Virgin's Guide to Burning Man

A Virgin's Guide to Burning Man can be found here.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What Were Your Favorite Childhood Books?

I probably would never be able to compile a comprehensive list of all my favorite childhood fairy tales, stories and books. Being an only child, I read A LOT, and developed early on a love for reading and the way books can whisk me away to foreign lands and the lives of others (even if they're fictional). How does one choose between the likes of Shel Silverstein, Judy Blume, and Madeleine L'Engle? How many times did I re-read Ray Bradbury's Farenheit 451 or The Halloween Tree? Or Beverly Cleary's Ramona books and David Sobol's Encyclopedia Brown? Not to mention classics like Where the Red Fern Grows, Anne of Green Gables, and Charlotte's Web. (This, of course, does not include books like Harry Potter which I read later as an adult.)

But one story that always stuck with me, that is the one I always think of first when I think of childhood favorites is Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Match Girl. (Read the short story here.) The story is about a little girl on Christmas who braves the freezing snowy cold to try to sell matches. At the edge of her means, she strikes a match to warm herself. In the glow of the match's light upon the wall, she sees warm, wonderous visions—until the match burns out. She lights match after match trying to catch the visions, until she sees one of her beloved grandmother. She watches this vision until the last match dies. As the flame goes out, so does her life.

I think what draws me so much to this story is the little match girl's ability to find beauty in tragedy. It has so much to it: the plight of the rich versus the poor, life and death, coldness and warmth. But this theme of transcendence is one that inspires me. There is comfort in knowing that even in the depths of despair, we as humans can find the strength to rise from the ashes and learn to fly. Out of our deepest sorrows come our greatest joys, and I hope I should always have the will to find grace.

What childhood favorites stick with you?


  1. All of the Little House on the Prairie books, The Boxcar Children series (there were the best!), and The Secret Garden. When I was really little I loved the Berenstain Bear books.

  2. I second the Berenstein Bears. They were my favorite. Other than that I love The Bear who slept through Christmas and The Polar Express. I seem to have a things for Bears and Christmas

  3. Yeah Berenstain Bears were pretty much awesome. When I got a little older, I read a lot of Sweet Valley High too. :)

  4. I was always a huge fan of Dr. Seuss and of the Redwall Series by Brain Jaques. The match girl story was way too sad for me! I only read it the once.

  5. I did cry every time I read it. But then looking at my list of favorites, maybe I have a thing for sad stories...


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