It’s Friday again and we’re taking this topic back even farther. I’ve talked about books that stuck with me from middle and high school. Now it’s time for elementary school. A couple of these were assigned reading, but many weren’t. My only stipulation is that I can’t include Harry Potter for obvious reasons. So, let’s sift through my pre-adolescent reading for the ones that have never left me.
- The Fighting Ground by Avi: I had to read this book for the Revolutionary War unit we had for sixth grade Language Arts (simultaneously with Social Studies). It follows Jonathan, a thirteen-year-old boy who believes he is ready to fight in the war. During his first battle, he is captured by Hessian soldiers (German mercenaries hired by the British). The book takes place over a twenty-four hour period and culminates in Jonathan escaping the Hessians and saving a little boy. This book really only sticks with me because it was the first book I read where somebody literally pisses their pants with fear. My twelve-year-old brain was like, “How embarrassing!” He’s literally about to die, Little Rainey. That’s not the issue right now. Also this was the book we were reading when my best friend at the time got moved to a lower-level Language Arts class. So, it wasn’t so much that it was impactful, but that I have weird memories associated with it.
- Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor: This was another assigned reading in my sixth grade glass. The main reason it sticks with me is because this was the first assigned reading I decided to continue on with outside of class. This book is the first in— I believe— a trilogy. I liked the first book so much, I immediately got the next books from the library. The story follows a boy named Marty who finds a beagle named Shiloh behind his house. It turns out Shiloh belongs to an abusive man named Judd who wants his dog back. In order to protect Shiloh, Marty runs away with him. This book was one of the heaviest I’d ever read up until that point. Animal cruelty and alcoholism were not topics I had explored before. It really helped to ease me into reading difficult topics.
- The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis: I have a confession to make: this is the only book out of The Chronicles of Narnia that I’ve read. It was assigned reading in the fifth grade. I’m not surprised it stuck with me, since I’ve always been a sucker for fantastical worlds. I also remember we had to draw a “comic strip” of a scene from the book. I chose the scene where Lucy first meets Mr. Tumnus. I’ve never been artistically inclined, so it wasn’t very good. I’ve thought about reading the entire series as an adult, but I don’t know if I ever will. Maybe I’ll just watch the movies. Or at least Prince Caspian.
- Cindy Ellen: A Wild Western Cinderella by Susan Lowell: This one is a picture book I read in the third grade. Technically, it was below my reading level, but I was obsessed with it. Obviously, it’s a Western “Cinderella” retelling. Instead of a ball, however, it’s a rodeo. We got to take home a book at the end of the year and I really wanted this one, but sadly it was off-limits.
- Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson: This book was assigned reading in —I think— fifth grade. It follows Matilda, a young girl trying to survive during the yellow fever epidemic. There was some graphic, gruesome stuff in here. Honestly, that’s probably why it stuck with me. It was gross and scary. Matilda survives, but I don’t think he mom does. If I remember correctly, Matilda helps to nurse other people back to health after she recovers. Truthfully, knowing how much this book stuck with me has made me want to read some of Anderson’s other work someday.
What books did you read in elementary school that stuck with you? Let me know in the comments!