I have been talking in LibraryThing with many, many people I could never have met anywhere else, and meanwhile or course thinking more consciously about books. Of course anyone who knows me knows that I always seem to be thinking about books, but at the moment it's quite overt.
In order to divert myself from book aquisition (right now it's spinning and weaving books; what are you buying, hm?), I'm turning my thoughts to what I read as a child. One of the great things about parenthood for me has been introducing my children to books I knew and treasured myself at their ages. Yes, today they have Harry Potter and The Quiltmaker's Journey and many other worthwhile reads which hadn't yet been written during my childhood, but I can't tell you the joy I have felt when they've read (or listened to) and loved Heidi, Charlotte's Web, The Secret Garden, The Velveteen Rabbit, and The Hobbit. It doesn't bother me that none of them get the least bit excited about The Happy Hollisters, Malory Towers or Cherry Ames; I guess those really are once and for all dated.
The one book which I read, and read, and read as a girl, though, was A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I had multiple copies which I kept in my room. I don't know when I discovered it, but once I had devoured it once I returned to it regularly. I never stopped crying when Sara fed Anne; I never got over the cruelty of the rich girls; I never felt much sympathy for Lottie; I always felt for Ermengarde. Oddly, Sara Crewe herself seemed less a human figure to me than some of the secondary characters; she was too perfect, rather like Mary Ingalls always seemed in the Little House books. The rat and the monkey always amused me quite a lot, though.
While The Secret Garden is a beautiful story hidden within a children's tale, A Little Princess is more a pre-adolescent's paradise story; a tale of a child who is important not because of who she is, but what she is inside and what she can do. Her riches at the end have more to do with what she has accomplished as a person than what the diamond mines her father has left her will offer. Every adolescent girl sympathizes with Sara because every adolescent girl (boy too I imagine, but I think it's more prevalent among girls) feels underappreciated, undervalued, and holds a child's self-absorbtion within a persona expected to express an adult's selflessness.
Of course, it would be nice to wake up one morning and find you own diamond mines, wouldn't it?
So what are your favorite childhood book memories, or childhood books? Which ones did you treasure as opposed to the books you now as an adult value?