Re-reading Childhood Favourites

discussion

This post will be linked to the Discussion Challenge, hosted by very lovely people. Try to go over there and click through the other posts – I always find very interesting debates to participate in! :)

Today, I want to talk to you about your childhood favourites. What was your favourite book growing up? How many times did you read it as a child? And have you re-read it in recent years, as an adult reader?

My favourites, for example, include:

  • Matilda and The Witches by Roald Dahl (I even wrote an Author Addiction post about him)
  • The Brothers Lionheart and Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter by Astrid Lindgren
  • The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Momo by Michael Ende
  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

And there were many more, of course. I think I read the entire children’s section of our local library by the time I was 14 and then wandered over to the adult section where I found The Lord of the Rings and that was the beginning of my fantasy reading, but that’s a different story.

srcek

I re-read some of these already (Matilda, The Witches, The Brothers Lionheart, The Hobbit, The Secret Garden) and they were marvellous. I loved how they made me return to my childhood years but I also discovered new aspects that I simply missed as a kid. This is one of the wonders of children’s literature – the dual addressee “issue”, where the books are meant to be read both by children and adults (who often read these books out loud to their children).

But there are definitely some books that I’m afraid to read for fear of being disappointed with them now that I’m an adult reader. Most notably, I’ve had The Little White Horse on my shelf for three years or so and I still haven’t made myself read it. I’m not sure why; I think I’ll like it but I just have this perfect memory of the story and the characters that I don’t want to spoil.

Honestly, this disappointment happens much more often with movies (like Hot Shots or Men in Tights, both of which were horrible now that I watched them again). I also know that some books I read – like The Famous Five or the Sadler’s Wells series (this one was probably one of my very first binge reads! Ahh, the memories) – were actually pretty bad. I don’t want to re-read them because I know I’ll be rolling my eyes the entire time and I just have such good memories of reading them at night with my flashlight because my mom thought they weren’t “good” books and couldn’t understand why I kept reading them. She never banned me from any books, mind you, she’d never do that, but I just didn’t want to explain myself, so I read in secret. I think this little rebellion was a part of the charm, actually, the fact that I was doing something my parents weren’t happy with (see, I was a rebel even at a young, tender age). :)

srcek

I know I’ll be re-reading some of my favourite books with my kids. I’m really looking forward to that! We’ve already established a good reading routine with Kiddo, we read to him every single night before bed, but we’re at picture books at this point, of course. I can’t wait for him (them) to progress to longer stories that will keep us all up at night.

And I’ll probably read them books that I’m “afraid” to re-read now – and we’ll see if they love them as much as I did when I was a kid (though I’ll be leaving out some of the more horrible ones). Some of them have become classics now, even in Slovenian, like Dahl’s books. And we’ll discover new favourites from among newer literature, too. And they’ll hopefully discover some horrible books on their own and read them even though I’ll be giving them the evil eye all along. At least I hope they grow up to be readers…

srcek

Have you re-read any of your childhood favourites lately? 

Or are you content with the memories and prefer discovering new books?

If you have kids, do you read to them/with them?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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  • Greg Hill

    I go both ways. Some childhood favorites I’ve re- read (with mixed results) and some I won’t touch for fear of ruining the magic. :) I read The Sword of Shannara as a preteen and loved it, read it multiple times, but when I revisited it lately I just couldn’t. And weirdly enough I loved the Hobbit and LotR in my teens but didn’t re- read them much- but they still had a huge impact.

    I’ve found that most of the stuff I loved doesn’t hold up so well now, with a few notable exceptions, so I don’t re- read too many old favorites anymore. :)

    • Isn’t it weird when you start reading a book you used to love and just CAN’T go on? I think sometimes it’s best to just keep the memories and leave it at that.

      Will you be recommending your childhood faves to your kids? Because that’s a tricky one – you might have loved them as a child but now you know they’re not as good…

      • Greg Hill

        You know I’m not sure. I might recommend some- like the Hobbit and LotR say. But take the sword of Shannara again- even though I loved it I’m not sure I’d recommend it to my own kid. I don’t know why. :)

  • Heck, I don’t need kids. I read to my rabbits… (It’s not mad, I promise. It helps a new bunny get used to your voice, and in the case of the older bunny, I was practising my French by translating to her aloud. Means I can’t be lazy.)

    • Nah, it’s not just reading to kids, it’s re-reading old faves in general. :)

      And yeah, I get the reading out loud to animals; I think it’s basically the same with very young babies – they don’t understand anything yet but they’re comforted by the sound of your voice. I read to Kiddo from the very beginning and I just read whatever I had on my Kindle that day. :D It was only later, when he started paying attention to illustrations and such, that we switched to picture books (when he was six months old or something). And even then it took him a long while to start paying attention to words and actual stories.

  • Maraia

    I have this fear even with recent favorites, haha. I always worry that the magic will only hold the first time through.

    I read the Harry Potter books every year, and they’re still as wonderful as they were the first time. On the other hand, I re-read the Abhorsen trilogy last year and found it incredibly boring. That was a huge disappointment. Usually, though, I have enough nostalgia to still enjoy books that I loved growing up. :D

    I still need to read the two Astrid Lindgren books you recommended! I don’t think my library has them, unfortunately.

    • I like to leave the new favourites for a while before I re-read them. I thought I cut it pretty close when I re-read ADSOM right before AGOS was published; only a year had passed and I was really worried about it. But it went okay. :)

      And yeah, Harry Potter books are unusually well-suited to re-reading, I don’t know why that is.

      I can imagine it can be difficult getting translated books in the US, especially if they’re this old. I read Slovenian translations, of course, so I have no idea what the English translation is like…

      • Maraia

        Are you planning to re-read ADSOM and AGOS before ACOL? (I still think that acronym sounds like a sneeze, haha.)

        I bet I can find good German translations of them! :D

        OH, I keep forgetting to tell you that I made sure to have Viennetta ice cream while I was in Germany this summer. It was just as good as I remembered!

        • Umm no, I don’t think I’ll be rereading both ADSOM and AGOS before ACOL. I’ve read ADSOM twice now and if I re-read it again, I’ll start looking for things to dislike because I’ll know the plot and characters by heart. I *might* re-read AGOS but since I had some issues with it, I think I’ll just plunge straight into ACOL and see what happens. :)

          And YAY for Viennetta :D It’s a great ice cream and it’s surprisingly affordable (compared to my all-time fave which is Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, which is about 5 times more expensive here).

  • I had pretty awful taste growing up with a few exceptions. Like I could NEVER reread Sweet Valley High O.O And I doubt I’d enjoy The Babysitter’s Club now either LOL! My childhood favorite though was the Anne of Green Gables series though and I still love the stories now. I reread the first book a few years back and still loved it just as much. I don’t think good literature ever gets old or dated. The Little Prince and The Secret Garden are ones I read as a young teen but I still love both today too.

    • WOW, I’d never heard of Sweet Valley High before and I’m… intrigued? :D The Goodreads synopsis for the first one made me cringe but I’m morbidly curious at the same time. On the other hand, The Babysitter’s Club was really popular here as well, so I definitely agree with you. :) Why did we read all that?!

      I think the classics are “classic” for a reason, no? They hold up really well and if you’ve read them as a child, they make up for a big part of how you grew up as a reader.

  • When I was very little I loved fairytales. I never wanted to read anything else. But in 3rd and 4th grade I read nothing by R.L. Stine Fear Street books. I’m sure I wouldn’t love them now, though. I did read Matilda when I was in school though and loved it. And I’ve read it many times since then and still loved it.

    The Little White Horse has been on my TBR for years and I still haven’t read it.

    • I loved fairy tales as well, I still do – though these days I mostly read modern retellings.

      But yeah, I had a Stine era as well, though I have to say they were never my favourites. I read other similar stuff, it’s just so addictive!

  • All my childhood favorites that I’ve re-read are from my teenage years (I’m currently going through David Edding’s Belgariad which I’m still liking – Phew!) and not from earlier. Narnia and D’Auaire’s Greek Mythology is probably the only exception. I think most of what I read that I remember was pretty awful. Like The Sweet Valley High Books – I’m surprised I’m not brain damaged:0).

    • You know, another commenter mentioned Sweet Valley High and I have to say I’m kind of sorry I was never exposed to that, the series looks horribly interesting! :D I mean, if it was available here when I was a kid, I’m pretty sure I would have read them. I devoured every similar series, so it’s a safe bet.

      I think I only read Narnia as a teen, too, which is probably why I never liked it as much, I think I was just too old and had read too many really good fantasy books by then.

  • I love re-reading childhood favorites with my kids – it makes for a whole new experience. It’s fun to relive those old memories – but I agree that sometimes you know that books you loved aren’t really going to live up to what you imagined them to be when you were a kid.

    • Yeah, I can’t wait to share those experiences with them. For some of my favourites, I still remember specific situations when I read them, so it’ll be interesting to see how THEY react to the same stories.

      Do you discourage your kids from reading the books you know aren’t as good?

      • Nope. We still read them together. One of my earliest favorites was a book called The Girl with the Silver Eyes. I knew this was not going to be literary genius, but I still had fun reading it again with my kids!

  • I actually haven’t ventured into many of my children’s book since I’ve gotten older… unless you count Harry Potter, which I don’t because Harry Potter is not just a childhood favourite but a favourite of all time. I mean, I loved Roald Dahl when I was younger but I haven’t gone back to his books for some reason and maybe I should. I suppose Meg Cabot counts as a childhood favourite with her Princess Diaries books but even then I was a teen really. I’ve read some of her books since and still really enjoyed them. I think a lot of the books I enjoyed when I was younger I love now for nostalgia reasons and I would be nervous to read again because I have different tastes and thoughts on books.

    I think the one book which has successfully survived as a favourite from childhood to adult outside of HP was When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit and that book is a classic. For some reason I’ve never read the rest of the series either!

    I have to say, I think I’m a bit jealous that you get to reread childhood favourites with your kid(s) because it’s the perfect way to revisit them but also you get to find new children’s books. I think that would be really fun exploring the new books out. I would be reading copious amounts of Dr Seuss to them, I think. Have you read those books? They are just so fun to read aloud, although I suppose that’s only true of them in English, they probably don’t translate well so it depends what language you’re reading in.

    Actually, that’s a question, I know you’re reading picture books at the moment but will you be reading in English or Slovenian to kiddo, or both? Obviously, Slovenian is your first language so it would probably be smarter to stick with that but I know you’ve said before the publishing industry is quite small in your country so I’m not sure how many children’s books actually get published. Completely random question but just wondering, you know me it’s not one of my comments if I don’t write you a small essay, right?

    • I think I’ll have to buy some Dr Seuss books for my kids – they haven’t been translated for some reason.

      And we read both Slovenian and English picture books to Kiddo. We mostly read Slovenian ones, it makes sense for his vocabulary, but we switch things up with some English as well, I want him to get a feel of the language as soon as possible.

      Actually, children’s books are FANTASTIC in Slovenia, we have a very, very good tradition. And most of the translations are actually really good! For example, you may know Gruffalo by Julie Donaldson (and most of her books, really), they’re all rhymed and very good for reading out loud – and we have great translations done by a Slovenian chidren’s poet who’s also a great translator. We get some really good poetry translations in general – they’re mostly done by our best poets and are works of art in their own right. I fell in love with Shakespeare in Slovenian first and only later read him in English, for example. :)

      But not all books get translated – for example, I love Jon Klassen and his I Want My Hat Back (and other stuff, too), and I couldn’t get it in Slovenian, so I bought the English version.

      • I loved Dr Seuss as a kid (especially the Dr Seuss Sleep Book, I read it was a read every night kind of book for a good long while).

        And that’s pretty cool that he gets the best of both worlds although does make sense to try and stick with a main language for him, especially as he is learning his words and sentences. They do say learning languages is easiest when you’re younger though isn’t it?

        That is so cool that children’s books are so good! I mean, they are some of the most important books you read as you get older. I love that the effort has been put in with the Gruffalo translation because that’s a good children’s book (did you see the TV adaptation on the BBC, it was on TV a few Christmas’s ago and it was so cute). You are basically proving that translations done well are awesome.

        I do wonder how it’s decided which books get translated and which don’t. It must have something to do with demand and all that but it would be interesting to learn more about it.

  • As a kid, I re-read constantly. If I liked a book, I’d read it over and over and over. As an adult, the only time I re-read is when I’m teaching a book, or when I’m reading to my own children. When I was a kid I loved historical fiction (Little House books, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women) and fantasy (Narnia, Lloyd Alexander, E. Nesbit). My own kids really prefer realistic fiction. They will let me read them Harry Potter, but that’s not quite the same as I was an adult when they came out.

    • Yeah, I re-read A LOT when I was a kid, too. Somehow, returning to favourite novels was a huge comfort for me. I still re-read a lot compared to some people but I feel like I should do it even more – some books just deserve second readings.

      Oh, that’s interesting – your kids’ tastes being so different from yours. Eep, I hope my kids will like what I like! :D

  • I actually never re-read books as a kid. Until I was about 22 I had re-read maybe two books lol (not including picture books). I just didn’t understand the point of re-reading back then. But my favorite book as a kid was The Phantom Tollbooth, and when I tried to re-read it as an adult, I couldn’t get past the first few pages :-/ I did re-read the whole HP series as an adult though and loved those, and I had originally read those from the ages of like 8-17. And after that went so well, I decided to try some other books from when I was a kid or teen and had kind of mixed results. Another one of my favorites as a kid was Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen, and that one really was great as an adult. But I find that most of the books I enjoyed when I was younger just aren’t for me anymore.

    I think it might be a totally different experience to read your old favorites to your kids though. I feel like you’d probably kind of see it more through their eyes since they’d be more into it and excited about it, whereas if you were just reading it for yourself you might be more critical. (Not you personally, the general you.)

    • Yeah, that’s a good point – reading to children has a different purpose than reading for yourself. So the experience will definitely be different! I’m looking forward to it.

      I just had another commenter say that her kids like different genres than her – that’s a sobering thought. Maybe my kids won’t even like fantasy! THE HORROR! :D