The books I’ll never outgrow

I’m currently re-reading a book that I read a long time ago.  When I say “a long time ago,” I’m not kidding.  The book is Henry Reed, Inc., and as far as I can guestimate, I was about eleven when I first read it.

I happened to be walking through the kids’ section of the local library when the book caught my eye.  In a wave of nostalgia, I decided to check it out and take it home.  So here I am, now, reading once again about young Henry Reed visiting his aunt and uncle in Grovers Corners, New Jersey.

Girl_ReadingThis is not at all unusual for me.  I actually love skulking around the kids’ section and finding books that I’ve read before.  There’s a slight embarrassment factor — it’s not like I can pretend that the books are for my own kiddoes, who are years away from chapter stories — but the awkwardness is not enough to keep me from revisiting the stories that, once upon a time, enthralled me.

Why do I do it?  Nostalgia, I guess.  Plus there are times when I don’t want to read a book that is too heavy or grim or “angsty.”  I want something light and enjoyable that whisks me back to a time when I was more innocent and carefree: the days before income tax and mortgages, the days when I could spend an entire summer afternoon rapturously  lost between the covers of a book.

I’ve got some favorites, too.  These are the books that I don’t have to go to the library to get, because I have my own cherished, yellowed,  fragile copies:

1) The Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. My favorites of the series are the high school books (Heaven to Betsy is the first).  They make me want to live in a small Minnesota town at the turn of the century.  To tell the truth, I actually have large sections of the books memorized.

2) Noel Streatfeild’s “Shoes” books (Ballet Shoes, Dancing Shoes, etc.) Their British settings appealed to me, the budding young Anglophile that I was.  I loved their emphasis on the ballet and theater.  And I adored the fact that many of them  had a girl character that you just loved to hate: a Nellie Olson, if you will.

Which leads me to …

3) The Little House books. Sigh.  Children’s literature doesn’t get much better than that.

4) Unless, of course, it’s Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books.

Do you have a favorite kid’s book? –one that you’ve re-read as an adult ?  Tell me I’m not the only one.

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