The first term of the summer semester begins tomorrow. Yikes! After both classes that I was registered in for the first term got cancelled, I had to scramble to find other options. I ended up registering in LLED 441 (Children’s Literature), as well as an online WISE course in Digital Storytelling through Syracuse University. In the end, I think I am actually more excited about these courses than I was about my original ones!
This evening as I was reading through the syllabus for LLED 441, I read something that brought a very strange mixture of emotions to my heart.
“Please bring -2-3 favourite children’s books- anything from picturebooks to YA novels…”
I find it very difficult to pick favourite things. Why say that peanut butter is my favourite food when I like chocolate just as much, and might prefer one over the other on particular days? And, as far as music goes, my tastes change regularly. As in, multiple times a day! Basically, I think that the idea of picking a favourite simply limits you to maintaining a special relationship with a single particular thing. Personally, I’m happier to have a little flex room.
In a situation such as this, where I’ve been asked to choose 2-3 favourite books, I find myself wondering whether the question should really be broken down further: couldn’t I have a favourite picturebook, a favourite middle-grade novel, a favourite reader, a favourite YA novel, a favourite non-fiction book, a favourite book of poetry, and on and on? How can I possibly choose just 2-3??
Despite my aversion to favourites, I do have a book that I will acknowledge as having the most impact on me growing up, but I still kind of hesitate to call it my “favourite” book- I think I’d feel better referring to it as “A middle-grade, Canadian book that I love very, very much that had a significant impact on me as a child.” In case you’re wondering, it’s Awake and Dreaming by Kit Pearson (I know, I know, typical BC female born sometime in the late 80’s/early 90’s, but you can’t control these things).
So, getting on with my conundrum of having to choose 2-3 favourite children’s or YA books, I had to come up with some sort of system. Leaving behind the more recently published books that I have discovered and enjoyed throughout my university life, I revisited my childhood bookshelf. Knowing that middle-grade books have a special place in my heart, I (painfully) bypassed my picturebooks and YA novels. Being a notorious re-reader as a child, I scoped out the most well worn books.
I returned from my search holding (count them) three books!!! Success! In the end, I am actually one book over the limit, because the 3 books don’t include Awake and Dreaming. That (signed) book endured so much love that it disappeared at some point and I had to get a replacement copy and as a result, it is not nearly as well worn.
And so, I hesitantly present to you my four “favourite” middle –grade books (from my childhood that I own copies of):
- Awake and Dreaming by Kit Pearson
- Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- Stand in the Wind by Jean Little
- Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt*
*This one is probably leaning more towards YA than middle-grade, but I read it in grade five or six. It mostly makes the list because I may have “forgotten” to return it to my grade five/six classroom library. As I was in the same split-grade classroom for two years, there is a good chance that I had more than a year to right this wrong but I failed to do so! Only true love for a book can inspire that kind of deviance in me. And, now that I’ve admitted this online, if my grade five teacher is out there reading this, I will gladly return the book to you (and hopefully clear my guilty conscience)!