By Alyssa Grimaldi
Self-isolating has not been easy for me, as I know it has not been for many people. While physically distancing from friends and unable to leave the same house for weeks on end, mental health can be negatively impacted. It is essential during these times to reach out to those you care about, and find ways to maintain contact. While me and my friends have been virtually watching movies together, reaching out and collaborating with people I love helps to provide me with a positive distraction from the melancholic and mundane. Therefore, I decided to make my blog post an interactive one in which I posed the same question to a variety of friends. Not only did this process provide me with a reason to contact some friends I have not spoken to in a while, but it brought back memories of our favorite literature from childhood. Discussing these texts together generated a warm shared nostalgia, and initiated a rediscovery of the captivation of reading these books as children.
May Bird and the Ever After
I’ll start off with my own pick. This book combined my love of the supernatural with my adoration of adventures and reading about adolescent girls with whom I identified. May Bird was super creative and traveled into the world of the undead with her badass hairless cat. Absolute goals for nine-year-old me.
The Name of This Book is Secret (two of my friends chose this one)
“This is the first book in a great and unconventional mystery fantasy series. It’s centered around an underground alchemy organization that recruits orphans and exploits them to help achieve immortality. The writing is really funny and intelligent, and the series introduced me to things like synesthesia and old Hermetic philosophy and a ton of other themes. The characters are quirky and likeable and the plot twists are actually clever, even from an adult POV.”
“Five books, each had something to do with the senses…It’s like a whole new world the author created, and the authors themselves use a pseudonym. I sent him a letter once and might read this series again now.”
The Uglies Series
“I loved the Uglies series by Scott Westerfield. Bit of a Hunger Games dystopian vibe about a surveillance state with mandatory plastic surgery. Sci-fi, mystery, romance, rebellion; severely underrated.”
The Ingo Series
“I loved the Ingo series because I wanted to be able to breathe underwater and totally believed that this book figured it out (I was VERY wrong) but it also had such a cool adventure in it. Mermaids are cool and I also wanted to be half mermaid.”
The Series of Unfortunate Events
“I learned some cool new words and phrases and got to see three smart kids (two of whom were girls!!) solve their own problems and be brave. It was sick as hell to see the girl as the inventor, too.”
The Magic Tree House Series
“I loooved the Magic Tree House series as a little kid! The books were very whimsical and fun, and all the different historical events/time periods/legends they captured really sparked an interest in reading and learning for me!”
“Uniquely juvenile in a way that never asked too much of me but absolutely introduced me to the idea of using my surroundings as inspiration for creativity (made a lot of my teachers into villains in my childhood comic books tbh).”
The Little Prince
“I like it because it deals with a lot of very important topics and has a lot of insight on matters like love, loss, and life in general that are written with children in mind so although they are very profound notions, they are written simply so everyone can understand them.”
The Little House on the Prairie Series
“I literally wanted to be a prairie girl like Laura. They made prairie life seem so wholesome and simple and I just wanted to experience that simplicity.”
The Adventures of TinTin
“I loved all of the wild adventures him and Captain Haddock went on. They’ve gone on every adventure you could think of. It was always full of the craziest events including them being kidnapped and looking to escape and for clues to find treasure.”
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
“It gave me an outlet to escape from bad mental health when I was a little munchkin and helped to foster my imagination!”
Hopefully this sampling of some of my friends’ favorite childhood books provided you with a distraction from the simultaneously too much and too little of our current situations. Maybe you cherished some of these texts as well, or are tempted to read some of them now. The nostalgia and particular magic derived from revisiting childhood stories may very well be an antidote to the isolation and loneliness of our present world.
Alyssa Grimaldi is the Long River Review social media coordinator and a poetry panel reader. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.