Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.
This week’s theme is books I wish I’d read as a child. I’m going to expand child to 18, since YA was just kinda becoming a genre that could stand on its own, since Twilight was published when I was in high school, and there are so many YA books being published now that I wished teenage me had been able to read.
I read a lot as a kid. Books were quite literally what saved me, and the fact that the elementary school library was my safe space is one of the reasons I became a librarian. But while I read a lot of fantastic things (thank you, my school librarian <3), these are the ones that I wished were around back then or that I had read, because these are the ones that could have helped me find words for the emotions and things I was experiencing, or open me up to life outside of rural Oregon.
Elementary and middle school me had a real problem with making friends. It was a really small school (there were—at the high end—13 kids in my class…the whole class) and there were the popular girls, the unpopular girls, and…socially awkward me. Anywho, it was rough, I survived, but I wish these had been around because holy shit I needed these.
Middle Grade Novels
Well I’ve made my childhood look really dark and horrible, haven’t I? There were lots of parts that were great—I grew up on a huge ranch, we were pretty well off, my grandmother is awesome, and I had a lot of older women in my life who shaped me into the woman I am today. But there were things I didn’t realize that were bad until long afterwards, and I’d kinda wished that I had had books that showed me that what I was experiencing weren’t… normal.
These books are just awesome, all around, and while there were a lot of incredible middle grade books published in the 90s, the late 2010s really leveled up the standards for fantastic middle grade fiction.
I had to throw in Fangirl, because where the fuck was this book when I was in college??? Seriously, so many things about myself would have been answered/put into words. Samesies with Eliza and her Monsters, although that one would have done well in high school, where I was one kid who wrote among a bunch of jocks and people who didn’t understand? Thank you internet for always pointing me to people who are like me.
And Starfish. I don’t know if I would have been ready to read that one as a teen? I read it last year and it was so painful (and I’m in my 30s). But it’s helped me reach out to my youngest sister and actually form a relationship with her, and talking about our mother and our different experiences with her has been really cathartic in ways.
Anywho, this was a post that hit a little deeper than I was anticipating, and um, I probably should have gone for lighthearted books instead of the books that socially awkward and weird child/teen me wished that I had had to help me grow/understand my world.
I’m not trying to turn this in a pity-seeking post—things are a lot better now, and for all of the shit I experienced, I was an incredibly privileged child with a lot of advantages that many of my peers lacked.