When I was making this list it became apparent that the books that I am most thankful for are the books that have influenced me to become the person that I am. I think that we forget sometimes the power of literature. That books are playing the long game. There are ideas that we come across as children or young people that can permeate our consciousness and become part of us. I am thankful to all the authors whose work has shown me a different view of the world, a new way of looking at things, and the ability to ever so briefly walk in another person’s shoes.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix*
by J.K. Rowling
I have only recently come to appreciate this book. A manual for resistance.
Helen Keller’s Teacher
By Margaret Davidson
My mother bought this from a bookmobile when she was in the fourth grade. Somehow, she kept a hold of it until I was born. I read it in the second grade and it pretty much set the course for my life. It was the reason I first wanted to be a special education teacher. Being 7 at the time I didn’t really understand that the reality of teaching special education isn’t really reflected in this book. Books do change lives.
The Secret Garden
by Francis Hodgson Burnett
Different books are read in different ways by different people at different times. We all know that. I still read this book as an affirmation of introversion. It speaks to me.
By Barbara Cooney
Another book that I have unconsciously patterned my life after. Or at least hope to pattern my life after. Step one: Go to faraway places. Check. Step two: Come home to live by the sea. Eventually. Step three: Do something to make the world more beautiful. Still figuring that out. Also, the illustrations are stunning.
by Robin McKinley
I came across this book as a library page in the seventh grade and I have read it at least once a year ever since. I think that for everyone there is a book that while imperfect speaks to them in a way that is different from other books. This is that book for me.
North of Beautiful
by Justina Chen
There is a lot of talk of mirror texts in literature. Books that reflect back on you your own experiences and life. This book was actually uncomfortable to read because it spoke about a life that was so life mine. It is also a reminder of why we need books that show more than one kind of life.
To Kill a Mockingbird
By Harper Lee
This was one my list last week but I DO NOT CARE. I remember reading it the first time as a school assignment and then reading it over and over again that school year.
By Alex Haley
I read this book when I was in third grade. So much of it went over my head (as subsequent rereads have shown me) but I got the gist. It still breaks my heart that Kunta Kinte never got back home even though logically I know that that is what the reality was.
Are You My Mother?
By P.D. Eastman
I think that this is the first book that I remember my mother reading aloud to me. I know that she read aloud to me every day from birth (no exaggeration) but this is my earliest memory of it. To this say I still hear it in her voice. I am thankful that my mother too the time and was able to read to me. For years and years and years. I know what a gift that is.
We Should all be Feminists
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Her “Danger of a single story” TedTalk was more of a watershed moment for me but I am still immensely grateful for this book and the fact that someone else was able to put the things I was feeling into words.
This might not be a list of books to go out and read right now because they are SO GOOD. Sharing them all at once like this is almost like looking at the literary watermarks of who I am. And I am pretty grateful for that. What about you? Are the books that make you grateful the books that make you you?
*Yes, one of the Harry Potter books or the whole series is the answer to every Top Ten Tuesday Prompt. That is just the way that it is.