Hi! I'm the newest member of the Scholastic OOM blogging team, working as a communications assistant.
I wouldn’t describe my love for reading as a means of escape. Although I’m well aware of the power books have to take you to exciting and magical places, I was always much more interested in books about people. With every new book I read, I was introduced to new characters and their very distinct personalities. What I soon learned was that everyone has their own story. We all face difficulties or challenges in our lives that ultimately shape who we are.
The books I loved told stories of love, sacrifice, and self-realization. They also taught lessons about being who you are and going after what you want, unapologetically. There are so many books that have left an impression on me and characters that I have fallen in love with, but here are a few of my favorites.
Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss: Okay, so this one is not so deep… but it was my favorite as a child and I think it said a lot about my determined personality. Even at an early age, I always loved a challenge. Dr. Suess’s Fox in Socks was my absolute favorite as a child; I could read it over and over again and never get bored – mostly because I could hardly get through the whole book without getting tongue tied, but I never quit trying to. Fox in Socks features only two characters, Mr. Fox and Mr. Knox, and tells their story entirely through tongue twisters, the rhymes starting easy at first and then quickly picking up speed as the pages turn. I picked this book up the other day while waiting in line and found myself laughing out loud at the fact that even so many years later; I STILL can’t get it through it perfectly.
Hard to believe? Try it out yourself –
“Through three cheese trees three free fleas flew. While these fleas flew, freezy breeze blew. Freezy breeze made these three trees freeze. Freezy trees made these trees' cheese freeze. That's what made these three free fleas sneeze.”
The Giving Tree byShel Silverstein: This book tells the story of selfless love, and giving without expecting anything in return. I loved The Giving Tree because it reminded me a lot of my mother. She gives selflessly, and she always has. The tree loved the little boy so much, and wanted nothing more than to make him happy – so when he asked, she gave all that she had. Despite the fact that she was soon left with nothing, the boy continued to ask and take. I feel like this book also taught a lesson about give and take – it made me realize that although it’s always nice to receive, you should also be aware of how much someone else might be giving up.
Also check out Where the Sidewalk Ends, a collection of funny and silly children’s poems by Silverstein.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: I first read The Great Gatsby my freshman year of high school and still love it to this day. The book introduces many different characters, all who of which are facing their own battles. Jay Gatsby, for example, is a young millionaire has everything he desires in life except for the one thing he really wants – Daisy’s love. The story behind the Great Gatsby holds so many themes – (love and betrayal, wealth, social class, the American dream), but not all of them are very apparent. Through his book, the characters, and their stories, Fitzgerald helped me to look beyond the surface and that wealth does not always guarantee happiness.
The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir: I think it’s important for young girls to know the story of Queen Elizabeth I, the greatest monarch to rule England and my absolute favorite historical figure. To me she represents strength, intelligence, independence and power. And despite the constant challenges she faced in a patriarchal society, she continued to defy expectation. Elizabeth was a fiery tempered, quick-witted queen with a legendary wardrobe (as Weir points out), who was also adored by her people. I’ve read dozens of pieces on Queen Elizabeth’s life, but Weir is an amazing writer. Her book goes into such specific detail that so many do not seem to touch, and it’s amazing to me how vivid the picture becomes. Her story helped me realize that women can do anything, despite what other people may believe.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: I’ll never forget how I was first introduced to this book – I hated it. My mother was insistent that I read it, but there was something about the 500+ page little red book (not even a cover!) that immediately lost my interest. And when I was grounded, she always gave me the one book I never wanted to read. Now that I think back at it, I’m so glad she did. Little Women told the story of four young sisters and the difficulties they faced living in impoverished New England during the Civil War. Meg, Jo, Amy, and Beth are all have their own passions and desires, but have to set them aside to help their mother while their father is away at war. It’s hard to find a perfect balance between caring for your family and staying true to yourself, and that’s what they struggle with the most; but once the dynamic changes by Meg, it’s easier for them to find their true happiness.
Which books most influenced your life?