Rereading Childhood Favorites

As an avid reader, I’ve been in love with books as long as I can remember. My reward for any good deed I did as a child was a trip to Hasting’s or Half Price Books where my parents would buy me a book (or two or three if I was convincing enough) of my choosing. Frequent visits to the public library were a staple in my summer life. The Scholastic Book Fair was one of the most exciting weeks of the school year, where I was given money and allowed to buy any book my heart desired. Anywhere I went, I carried a book, never wanting to waste a spare moment of time I could have been reading.

Needless to say, I amassed a long list of favorite books as a child, ones that I recommended frequently, sharing the joy they had brought me when I read them. By the time I got into chapter books early on in elementary school, I wasn’t a re-reader. Despite falling in love with different characters and series, I thought it more important to devour new titles rather than spend my time re-reading a book I’d already finished. However, as an adult, I fondly looked back on these childhood favorites and longed to read them again, in hopes of them taking me back to a simpler time, allowing me to experience the joy they once brought me.

Although what I’ve realized through this read down memory lane is that the good memories I have of reading these books as child don’t always translate into my adult reading life and preferences. Oftentimes these revisits leave me empty, wondering why I fell in love with the book in the first place, souring me on the title altogether. It’s a bit like your first love. You look back fondly on the relationship, reliving the highlights, romanticizing the person and wondering why you ever let them go. But when you see them again, you’re let down, doubting your memories and left wondering, What was I thinking?!

So, rather than slog through some of my childhood favorites just to come up short, I’d rather look back on them like an old love, savoring the memories and the good feelings they brought me. In my opinion, it’s better to maintain the illusion than shatter it.

13 thoughts on “Rereading Childhood Favorites

    1. aggiekesler Post author

      I’m in the middle of The Incredible Journey, and for the life of me I can’t remember what I loved about this book. Some favorites I’ve reread have been enjoyable, but they don’t elicit the same feeling as I remember they did. What is interesting is that I can reread favorite children’s books that I have found as an adult all day long, but ones from when I was a kid…not really. It’s strange.

      1. karpenglish

        Children’s books you found as an adult are more melded to your adult reading preferences, and probably also some unconscious biases toward (or away from) certain styles, so that makes sense to me.

  1. Jaana

    I remember that summer after uni graduation (undergrad), I re-read all the Nancy Drew books. I needed something easy and simple to read where I didn’t need to think or analyze. I don’t think I would read these books again or necessarily even recommend them to my students today. Times are changing.

  2. carwilc

    I can’t even tell you how many books I have reread, or even kept, knowing that I would reread them, and then I read it again, and think, “Why in the heck did I love this so, so, so much?” And then there are those books that I absolutely loved, but now they are dated, and kids won’t read them even if they are good books…. So disappointing.

  3. karpenglish

    I am with you on the remembering, rather than re-reading, technique! I’m not sure I could bear it if I discovered that my adult self hated all my child self favorites! I even avoided the much talked about production of Little Women on Masterpiece Theatre last fall, because the book meant SO MUCH to me when I was 7. I spent second grade reading and re-reading and re-reading the book, and I was just afraid that I would not like it anymore if I saw the miniseries. Of course, with a child around, some of those favorites from my childhood and my husband’s childhood inevitably make their way into our home. Sometimes they are accepted, and sometimes they are flatly rejected. It is quite traumatic!

  4. Elisabeth Ellington

    I have found that picture books tend to hold up much better for me than chapter books. Whenever I read a chapter book, I usually think, what in the world? Why did I love this? But when I reread picture books, it’s usually, Wow, this is amazing, and I had GREAT TASTE as a child.

  5. readingteachsu

    My childhood favorites would not be my picks or recommendations today, but still we look back on 5e experience of carrying a book around everywhere to finish. I still love to see a dog eared book under the arm, sticking out of a bag. There’s where readers are made.


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