I am not a huge re-reader of books. There are very few books that I have read over and over again, mostly because there are so many new books that I want to read that I don’t have the time to go back to them. Over the past few months I found myself going back to some of my old favourites however, partly because I wasn’t getting as many books from the library and partly because I needed something reassuring to read when everything was falling apart around me.
Some of the classics that I love that I know are on a lot of other people’s lists are Narnia and Harry Potter. I started a re-read of Narnia back in March when my husband started listening to the audiobooks and actually never got fully through them, so that is something that I need to go back and finish. My husband and I were just talking about the midnight release of the seventh Harry Potter the other day (which I was allowed to go to, but he wasn’t). These are books full of memories of my parents reading them to me, and talking about them with everyone at school.
I love going back to a world that you know so well. There are no big surprises and everything is familiar. I find it so easy to get in the heads of the characters and while they may still do the things that annoy me about them, they also do the things that I love.
I also helped to clean out my parents house during this time and part of that included taking home a box of books with my name on them. Now opening this box was like stepping back into late elementary/middle school including some of my all time favourite books.
Over the past few weeks I have been making my way through Ella Enchanted and The Two Princesses of Bamarre. I got caught up back in the world of the City of Ember and now sitting on my nightstand is Stargirl.
It has been so great to go back to these books and read them again. Some I read, enjoyed, but am now passing on to the thrift store, but others I am so excited to keep and save for my hopeful future children. I can’t wait for them to read these books or to read them to them and get to experience my favourite books with them.
But then there are other books that I am a bit more unsure about. These are books that I did really love, but now I know that there are harmful stereotypes or portrayals in them. I haven’t gotten to reading them yet, but this is where I am more conflicted. Now I am very glad to live in a world with more Own Voices books and books that are more accepting and those are the books that I want to fill my home with, but there is that little tug on my heart for these books. As I do read these books I am going to make a conscious effort to mark where these portrayals are happening and how to go about them with future children if I do feel like these are important discussions to have.
Not all of my childhood books are books that I think my children should read. Just like I think there are movies that I don’t think they will watch until we can have cultural discussions about depictions that are in them.
There is joy in re-reading old childhood favourite books, but there is also a sadness. Books that haven’t stood the test of time are ones that I won’t keep, but when I do find those ones that I still love and care for, I get so excited to pass them on one day.
Let me know, what were some of your favourite books as a child/pre-teen?