Considering that I've spent the past week and a half enmeshed, embroiled, and overwhelmed by all things educational, I thought a decent literary list was called for. You might've thought I would have wanted to stay away from anything reminiscent of school, but the fact is, I'm so immersed in it all that I've even been plagued by dreams of parent meetings and changing curriculums!
I once wrote about the books I cherished as a child,but I would now like to touch up on the ones that were so important to me during the later formative years, those tumultuous, angst-y, emotional times that began in...probably the fifth grade (I was always a rather dramatic child). The books on this list are a varied bunch, some slightly more mature but for the most part, all quite traditional and classic. I could read them each now, and I'd probably enjoy them just as much as I did when I was twelve. Of course, I heartily and passionately recommend them, for teaching, general entertainment, inspiration...they're timeless, wonderful, and exquisite in their own ways.
5. Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O'Dell. I was quite young when I read this book, but its images have always haunted me. Not necessarily in a bad way, of course. It's certainly a heroic tale, a young girl who fends for her own on a deserted island, fighting hunger, the elements, and loneliness. It's just that after learning the meanings of "Aleut" and "cormorant", and imagining how I might construct a home out of whale bones should I ever find myself on a deserted island, I had to deal with the terribly sad death's of Karana's brother and adopted dog.
4. A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. More than any other book, this particular one instilled a deep appreciation and love for what an author can do. There is a scene towards the end of the book, when poor riches-to-rags Sara Crewe goes to sleep in her bitterly cold, lofty garrett, dreaming wistfully of a hot meal and warm blankets, and awakens to the most marvelous discovery-almost everything she dreamed of has miraculously appeared.
"Do you wonder that she felt sure she had not come back to earth? This is what she saw. In the grate there was a glowing, blazing fire; on the hob was a little brass kettle hissing and boiling; spread upon the floor was a thick, warm crimson rug; before the fire a folding-chair, unfolded, and with cushions on it; by the chair a small folding-table, unfolded, covered with a white cloth, and upon it spread small covered dishes, a cup, a saucer, a tea-pot; on the bed were new warm coverings and a satin-covered down quilt; at the foot a curious wadded silk robe, a pair of quilted slippers, and some books. The room of her dream seemed changed into fairyland-and it was flooded with warm light, for a bright lamp stood on the table covered with a rosy shade."I've never forgotten the way I felt when I read those words, picturing it all in my head with such vivid detail. I always wished that someday I might sit in a room like that, with a roaring fire and quilted satin slippers. Just so wonderful.
3. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott. Probably one of the first books "forced" upon me by my mother, it didn't take long before I was utterly engrossed in the story of the March family. It's where I first heard of the Pickwick papers, or the words "don't let the sun go down on your anger." I felt sheepish as Meg dressed in her finest for the parties in town, sad when dear, sweet Beth became ill, and torn about the up and down relationship between Jo and Laurie. The book is simply one of the best.
2. My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George. You might find it a little strange that one of my most beloved and cherished books is about a 12-year old boy who heads to the Catskill Mountains to live on his own in the wild. I can't explain it, but I was utterly captivated by the story, and I have literally read the book HUNDREDS of times. Sam GribIey carved his home out of a hemlock tree, ground acorns into flour to make pancakes, built a fireplace with clay from the stream, trained a falcon...what a life! I wish I had my original copy, because the creases and torn edges truly lend character, but I'll settle for just having at least one in my personal library.
1. Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery. It's not the first time I've written about Anne, nor will it be the last. There is no other literary figure to whom I feel a closer connection, or has proved to be more influential in the development of my own mind and character. She is strong, full of imagination, intelligent, and passionate. I've aspired to be like her, and I can't wait to share all of her books with my own children.
I'm fading fast, and need to head to bed soon, so that I might actually be ready to USE one these books at school tomorrow!