In today’s Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme created by the lovely girls over at The Broke and The Bookish, I want to share with you the books (and authors) that had the biggest impact in me as an eight to twelve year-old bookworm. You can see a specimen of the species Childus Bookwormus aged five in her natural habitat below, she had been interrupted while feeding on her daily dose of fiction.
I’d like to take this opportunity and own up to my privilege. I grew up in a family that had enough money and other means to support my love of books and was actively interested in cultivating this habit in me. I am thankful for it every single day.
I also want to thank the authors who wrote these books — even though they will never read this — for having created such lively characters and an alternative world where I could fall back into whenever I so desired. I couldn’t be the reader I am today if it hadn’t been for these works of fiction.
Okay, brace yourselves for a lot of Roald Dahl…
1. Matilda by Roald Dahl
Matilda is a young and bright school girl, intelligent and wise beyond her years, even though her parents seem to think of her as a nuisance. At school she is terrorized by the principal, Miss Trunchbull, and can only find comfort under the wing of her teacher. As Matilda experiences distressing events she realizes that she’s special and capable of a skill no one else is — telekinesis.
I love this book to bits and pieces for two main reasons: a) Matilda — she’s one of the best female characters I’ve ever read about. She’s smart and not afraid to show it, curious and has a very defined sense of right and wrong from a young age. b) Books and reading — they are portrayed in such a positive light in this novel. They are presented as friends and companions, with the amazing ability to teach you incredible things. Just read a quote from Matilda down below.
“The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.”
2. The BFG by Roald Dahl
This book follows a young orphan girl named Sophie who is taken from her bedroom through the window by the BFG, the Big Friendly Giant whose job is to blow dreams into people’s minds. The two share some time together and go on an enormous adventure trying to stop the mean giants from terrorizing and killing innocent children.
I remember laughing so much when I read this one. It has silly made up words, farts and burps — you can’t be surprised. This holds an extra-special place in my heart because it was the first book my fourth-grade teacher borrowed me, which was a great honor at the time. Although when I read it during the summer of 2016 I didn’t like it nearly as much, it still deserves a spot on the list.
3. The Witches by Roald Dahl
I promise this is my last Roald Dahl, but he was one of the most important writers for young Rita.
“Real witches don’t ride around on broomsticks. They don’t even wear black cloaks and hats. They are vile, cunning, detestable creatures who disguise themselves as nice, ordinary ladies. […] She might even be your lovely school-teacher who is reading these words to you at this very moment. Look carefully at that teacher. Perhaps she is smiling at the absurdity of such a suggestion. Don’t let that put you off. It could be part of cleverness.”
This book is fantastic. It’s exciting, funny and scary all at the same time, you can probably guess how scared I was while listening to my fourth-grade teacher read this book to me, right? During recess she’d read it and those were the most exciting minutes of my day.
4. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
Violet, Klaus and Sunny are siblings who lose their parents and house in a mysterious fire, leaving them alone in the world with a large fortune awaiting fourteen-year-old Violet when she becomes of age. The problem is, the despicable Count Olaf knows this and will stop at nothing to get it. The children go through a series of unfortunate events as they try to escape from him.
Although I’ll admit I only read the first seven (out of thirteen books) because there weren’t any more translated to Portuguese at the time, I loved them. I remember loving the author’s voice and being really excited to find out what happened next. Actually, funny story time: When I was ten, my best friend and I decided to write the sixth book in the series after having read the fifth one (the last one that had been translated into Portuguese) during our lunch breaks. It was amazing.
5. Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
I mean, come on. Why would you think this one wouldn’t have made the cut?
The day before leaving for my vacation in Spain with my mother, cousin and brother I went to the library to check out something to read. I had never heard about Harry Potter at the time, it was 2009 and I was ten, so when I saw it in display I was interested automatically. At first I wanted to check out the longest one — Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix — so that it would take me a while to finish it, however at the last second I chose the smallest one — Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Can you imagine how different everything would have turned out if I hadn’t changed my mind???
6. Geronimo Stilton by Elisabetta Dami
These books follow a mouse called Geronimo Stilton who works at a big city’s newspaper as an editor. He’s kind of an introvert and more book oriented, however his sister Tea Stilton is much more outgoing and leads him to fun adventures.
When I say I devoured these, I’m not joking or exaggerating. I usually read them in a day, cover to cover. I remember them being incredibly fun, always entertaining and with a great moral behind the whole story. Because it had a lot of pictures and different fonts I was hooked to them from book one. I couldn’t recommend it more.
7. The Wonderful Adventures of Nils by Selma Lagerlöf
A young boy named Nils departs from Sweden on the back of a geese. During this trip through the skies he learns a lot about geography and folklore.
That might seem incredibly dull, I know it did when I heard about it for the first time, but as soon as I started reading it I couldn’t stop. I loved learning about Sweden and other Scandinavian countries as well as their stories and culture, it truly satisfied the curious creature inside me.
8. Uma Aventura by Isabel Alçada and Ana Maria Magalhães
Because I’m Portuguese I had to, of course, include some Portuguese works and that spot goes to Uma Aventura (or, as you would call them in English One Adventure). This series followed five friends and two dogs: the twin girls Teresa and Luísa, the boys Pedro, Chico and João and, finally, their adorable dogs, Caracol and Faial. They get into really exciting shenanigans while fighting crime and solving mysteries.
I read all fifty-eight books that were out and re-read my favorites. These books really shaped me as a reader and taught me so many things about being brave and facing adversities. The group of five friends felt to me as real-life friends on whom I could count on.
Okay, I didn’t include ten books in this post. Regardless, were you a book-lover as a child? Which were your favorite books?