Friday, September 4, 2009


If the purpose of a writer is to create original written material, it would seem to follow that originality is important.  In high school I fretted seriously about whether or not my stories were original.  Whenever I decided one passed muster, I might tell someone about it, and then some helpful (ex-)boyfriend would happily exclaim that the story sounded just like such-and-such book he had just read.  Considering this an essential failing of my talent, I gave up.  Despite the fact that I was accepted to an Ivy League school largely on the strength of my creative writing (I still have the note from the admissions director saying so), I eventually got my degree without taking a single english class.

Speaking of english classes, my friend Ted was recently telling me about the field of Comp Rhet, a closed system of academics one-upping each other in originality - "endlessly spewing into the ideasphere," is how I think he put it.  Contrast this with the world of children's literature.  My five favorite children's books/series are all about orphans entering a strange and dangerous new world, and becoming the hero of that world.  That is just the beginning of their similarities; it just occurred to me that they all mention tapestries.

It's extremely liberating to finally stop worrying about originality.  Case in point, I know there are probably five hundred blogs exactly like this one, but that's okay.  The purpose of this blog is not to be original, it is to help keep me motivated to write.  The purpose of my stories is not to be original either, they are intended to entertain.

So what are your top five most beloved children's books/series?  What is the empirical plot that turns you on over and over again?


  1. As a child my most memorable book was titled "Summer at Buckhorn" - read in elementary school in about the 4th or 5th grade. Three young city children spent some weeks visiting cousins on a farm. They were completely out of their element and had many simple but unusual adventures. As a city child it seemed it must be most wonderful to be out in the open air surrounded by acres of pastures and fields rather than a concrete noisy city.
    Another was, of course, "The Secret Garden" and also "My Friend Flicka."
    Each of these three books took me to unfamiliar places that were exotic in my small world. Yet I could always relate to the main characters as children like myself - just in a different setting.
    Now as an adult I devour books with an historical setting that is fiction based on true events. These authors take a piece of history and develop characters to interact with factual historical figures. Again, I am taken to unfamiliar places and can imagine myself as one of the main characters. I am drawn to that which I can relate as possible rather than fantasy. Although I do love Harry Potter!

  2. I've discovered that when I go back and read books that I loved as a kid, I find them childish. Go figure. But, as it ruins my memories, I don't do that any more. So, based on my memories of those books I haven't spoiled for myself, my favorites are (in no particular order):
    1) Bridge to Terabithia
    2) Myth, Inc series
    3) Bruno and Boots series
    4) Hardy Boys series
    5) Dr Doolittle