Childhood, Favorite Things, Life, Universe

Is Your Favorite Childhood Book the Key to Who You Are?

I was grabbing some glasses out of our dining room cabinet one day when I noticed this book tucked into the corner:

Miss Suzy was probably my favorite childhood story book. I felt like I was a child again as I flipped through the pages. It’s a bit jarring when my two worlds merge like that. Books have a way of doing that to me. Music does this as well. It immediately transports me back with the first page, or the first note of a song.

My most most recent library book (of course, out of order) was discovered via my friend Rita’s blog a few weeks ago. I followed a link in her post, and the author provided a book titled Your Life as Story by Tristine Rainer. Since borrowing that book, I’ve been taking notes like a giddy high school student.

In her book, Tristine tells a story about going out to dinner with a group of friends, and while they are waiting for their table, one of the friends suggests playing a fun game to pass the time, saying, “It’s said that your favorite fairy tale or children’s story turns out to be the key to who you are.”

I’ll play along.

Photo by Lina Kivaka on

Miss Suzy by Miriam Young, illustrated by Arnold Lobel

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad, Day by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Ray Cruz

Cranberry Thanksgiving written and illustrated by Wende and Harry Devlin

Among the many books I read as a child, the aforementioned children’s books are my favorites. So, do those books hold the secret to who I am?

Let’s go over the main ideas of each book.

See? Cozy.

Miss Suzy– It’s about a squirrel who gets thrown out of her cozy tree house by mean squirrels and befriends toy soldiers. She ultimately returns to her treehouse, and all is right with the world. According to Google, the book’s main theme is friendship, loyalty, and bravery.

That was not my childhood takeaway. The quaint treehouse was my favorite part. When she was kicked out and forced to live in a dollhouse, she cleaned it up and made it cozy. My little girl self thought that was bad ass. I enjoy a good renovation project and that, my friends, is one key to who I am now.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day– Bad days happen, and sometimes problems cannot be solved. As a child, it felt good to know I wasn’t the only one having days like this.

Even as an adult, it’s important to keep this in mind. We have terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. Or even weeks. Or sometimes months. And it’s okay to be angry, sad, and unhappy. I don’t always want someone to turn my frown upside down.

Cranberry Thanksgiving– The main theme of this book is not to make assumptions about people based on appearances. But here’s what made me fall in love with this book: the pumpkin pie shared at Thanksgiving dinner. Nothing more profound than that. I do enjoy a slice of pie, so perhaps there is some truth to all of this?

So do I believe there is something to the claim that your favorite childhood book holds the key to who you are? I’m still undecided.

As I discovered while writing this post, the author may have intended one message, but the readers interpretation may be quite different.

What were some of your favorite childhood books?

Do they hold the key to who you are?

53 thoughts on “Is Your Favorite Childhood Book the Key to Who You Are?”

  1. Yurtle the turtle. A tree grows in Brooklyn. Judy Blume. The outsiders. Mostly about people who feel belittled, or out of step with everyone else. So yes….they say a lot about me

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YERTLE! Oh, I loved him!

      I’ve never read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Someone recommended it in the TBR post comment section, so it’s on my list, and I do intend to read it FINALLY.

      Judy Blume books were also favorites of mine too. And yes, I do enjoy stories about people who feel belittled, underdogs, or out of place. You and I have a lot in common. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As a child I loved Winnie the Pooh. From him I learned how to have a good time and let things unfold in their own time. I also loved Lucille by Arnold Lobel. This story taught me to never try to be someone I wasn’t. I liked Nancy Drew and Harriet the Spy, but those were when I was older.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A few of my favorites were Crosspatch; a lion cub that no one liked because he was always cross. He was just the cutest and totally misunderstood. I wrote a whole blog post about this when I found my sister’s favorite childhood storybook but in looking at the post I didn’t even think to say WHY I liked them so much!

    I used to argue so much as a new teacher that we can’t keep asking kids to have the same takeaways from books that we do. We need to ask more open ended questions and just listen to kid’s answers. So many of the questions we ask kids to help them develop reading skills are based on the author’s (or even the school/ administrators) intended message but as someone who reads lots of books over and over again the message that speaks to the reader is not always the same one! I have read some books again as a parent with a totally different takeaway then I had when I was in high school.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Crosspatch is a book I’ve never heard of!

      I completely agree with you. Especially as someone who struggled with reading comprehension as a child, which is why I never liked reading. I wish there were more educators like you in the world. 🙂


    1. I didn’t appreciate Beverly Cleary until I had my own children and read her books to them.
      I’m familiar with Walter the Lazy Mouse, but I’m not sure if I’ve read the book. But it’s been a long time, so my memory isn’t as sharp as it once was.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My favorite book was Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories. How the leopard got his spots, how the rhinoceros got his skin etc. There was a message in all of them…. but my love of the book is more likely rooted in how many times my late father read it to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I cannot remember the name of my favorite book as a child, but I remember that it was about a house that was going to be moved so that they could put a new road in or something. The house itself was very cute. I loved that little house. It was perfectly symmetrical. I still am drawn to symmetry. I felt so sad that they were going to move this house. Maybe it says that I cheer for the underdog? I am an underdog? I was destined to like HGTV? I do remember checking the SAME book out each week in kindergarten and the librarian asking me if I wanted something else, so maybe it also means I’m boring? 😉 I remember coming across it when my kids were little and having it click that THIS WAS MY FAVORITE BOOK.

    When I was older I loved the Happy Hollingers (similar to Bobbsy Twins) and Little House on the Prairie. I also hated reading, but now I love it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Look at you little Miss Name-that-book. Well isn’t that the perfect name for that book? Makes sense. I found that book so comforting. I should add a copy to my daycare.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I wasn’t a ferocious reader as a kid. I did enjoy the Dr. Seuss series when I was really little, moved onto books like Charlottes Webb and then Judy Blume. I can’t say that any of them speak to who I am. Well, I might have the personality of a Dr. Seuss character….you know, one of the odd ones. (kidding, but not really)

    There is one book that I loved so much and I still have it somewhere; I can’t tell you the name of it, but in it is a bunch of mice (I think they’re mice) and they each have their own treehouse home and each of them is decorated differently. THAT spoke to me then and it still does now as I love decorating. I really need to find this book and check that it is mice. *sigh* Kari, I’m getting old and losing my memory.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I, too, identify with Dr. Seuss characters. Not at ALL kidding.

      I looked for your book online but couldn’t find it. That sounds very familiar to me. Because you and I are close in age, that is something I may have read as a child.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Suz, I’m wondering if you are thinking of the Brambly Hedge books by Jill Barklem? I came to these books only recently and regret that I didn’t know about them growing up. You can get absolutely lost in the wonderful illustrations, and the stories are so sweet and gentle (with occasional very mild peril).

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Lisa-thanks for the heads up. I took a peek and I’m not sure if that’s what I’m remembering. I’m gonna dive in deeper when I get a minute. I do love the illustrations from this author though.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I loved Little House on the Prairie books and Nancy Drew mysteries. As I got a bit older, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was my favorite, as were the Judy Blume books. I could really identify with the coming of age stories.

    BTW, I know we still need to get together, but this is a really rough week: I have THREE, yes three wakes/memorial services to go to! And then next week is Thanksgiving. Hopefully, after that?


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Another series I didn’t appreciate until I had children was the Little House on the Prairie books. That was my attention issues as a child, I now recognize. I read the entire series to Anna when she was little, and it was fun since I was discovering it alongside her.

      Judy Blume was wonderful, wasn’t she? They’re making Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret into a movie.

      Oh, friend, that’s a tough week! We have family in town all of next week anyway, so let’s make a plan for after Thanksgiving. It’ll give us both something to look forward to.

      I’m sending you a virtual hug. I hope you can feel it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh, man: I love this topic and reading the comments. So many favorite books to remember. If we’re talking picture books, I loved the Frances books–especially Bread and Jam for Frances. Frances was a girl (er, badger?) after my own heart. Her house was cozy, her parents were kind and accepted Frances as she was, and Frances had a mind of her own. I also loved Amelia Bedelia because I thought the wordplay was hilarious. Like you, I think I loved any book where the world was cozy and old-fashioned.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And to think, your blog post inspired all of it. 🙂

      Frances! I loved her books as well! It’s really cool that the author has the same surname as my husband.

      Oh, Amelia Bedelia! How could I have forgotten her? She was so adorable and made you feel like making mistakes was perfectly acceptable. She reminded me a lot of Curious George, another book series I adored.

      Cozy and old-fashioned is the best.


  9. This is fun! When I was a very young child, my favourite books were The Monster At The End of the Book with Grover from Sesame Street, and Busy Busy World by Richard Scarry. I don’t know what that says about me. Later I loved The Bobbsey Twins, and then A Little Princess, followed by Little Women. That’s me until probably age ten, at which point I really got into Sweet Valley High. Are you a Jessica or an Elizabeth was the big question of my fifth grade class.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My daughter’s both loved The Monster at The End of The Book! I also enjoyed Richard Scarry books. They were our generation’s Where’s Waldo? books. There was always so much to look at and discover. Do you remember Lowly Worm? He was always my favorite.

      My youngest daughter is homeschooled and has started reading Little Women. We have a flexible honor system in school, and the bulk of it is done online. I can see her progress and she’s usually a very trustworthy person, but she doesn’t like to read, just like I didn’t when I was younger. The other day I asked whether she started her reading assignment. She said she had, so I asked what it was about. “Women who are short?”

      Just like her mom. I love it.


    1. I didn’t even mention it, but I never read Little Women. There are so many classics that I’ve yet to read. I’m adding it to my TBR list. My youngest LOVES Anne of Green Gables, so I feel like she may enjoy Little Women.


    2. Ella and I watched the 1994 version of Little Women yesterday. At the end, we were both in tears. The most important takeaway for me was that there were feminists so long ago and how hard they must’ve suffered against patriarchy at the time. Also, Jo writing the story of her life. Ella and I both decided it was one of our all-time favorite movies.


  10. I have too many favorites, especially now that my favorites also include my kids’ favorites so I have no idea if mine describe me. I will say that Jesse’s two favorites include Ferdinand and The Little Red Hen and out of all the children’s books, I can’t imagine more perfect ones for him.

    As for favorite books describing people, I remember telling someone once to stay away from any man who loved Charles Bukowski. I have yet to met an emotionally stable man who was a fan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you regarding our children’s favorites that have become ours. Goodnight Gorilla is a book with few words that lets the illustrations tell the story, and both of my daughters fell in love with it. I also fell in love with it alongside them. We’d go through each page, attempting to figure out what it was trying to tell us. Aren’t children’s books magical in that way?

      I’d never heard of Charles Bukowski until someone shared a quote of his on Instagram last year. After reading your comment, I went to Goodreads to look for some of his work, which led me into a rabbit hole I wish I hadn’t gone down.


      1. I was introduced to him in college by the kind of guy I think most of us dated in college and I love his poetry. I have a great many of his books, BUT men who like him (or at least TALK) about liking him) are a certain kind of trouble. I can’t imagine the rabbit hole you went down!

        Goodnight Gorilla is SUCH a good one!!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I wish I could remember the name of one childhood book I borrowed over and over again from the library. It was from the A section, which indicated the first initial of the author’s last name. An old book (even then) about a young girl who rode her pony through a pass in the Rockies to find a secret, magical valley. Other than that, I loved all books involving quests and adventures, and horses. Well, I do live in a mountainous terrain now AND on the west coast…but I don’t own a horse, nor shall I ever. But I do love me a quest and having adventures!
    So there is that. Thanks, Kari. Great post.


    Liked by 1 person

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