Summer is in full swing, which means everywhere I look, I see friends getting engaged, planning weddings, or having babies. Happily unmarried and childless myself, all of these huge milestones of the people around did get me thinking about my own future. Instead of thinking about when I want to get hitched or how old I want to be when (or if) I become a mother, I couldn't help but focus on one thing: the books from childhood I'm saving for my daughter. What can I say, when you're a bibliophile, books are always on the brain, even when you think of babies.
Growing up, I was a huge reader. From the picture books I enjoyed with my parents at bedtime and the early readers I was proud to get through on my own, to my first chapter books in middle school and the young adult novels I stayed up late into the night reading, I could always be found with my nose in one paperback or another. Since as long as I can remember, books have played a huge role in shaping my life. I can still remember the stories that made me fall in love with reading as a kid, the chapter books that helped me figure out who I was growing up, the teen novels that got me through the toughest times and hardest decisions, and the characters that have stayed with all along the way. Without the books of my childhood, I can say with all certainty, I wouldn't be the adult I am today.
That's why, whenever I think about having children of my own, I wonder not only what kinds of kids they'll be, but what kind of readers they'll be. If I'm lucky enough to have a bookish child like me, here are nine of the books from my childhood I want to pass on to her. Full of inspiration, empowerment, and quality story telling, I hope these books will make my future daughter fall in love with reading just as much as I did. I can just picture the mother-daughter book club now.
'Chrysanthemum' by Kevin Hawkes
There are a million picture books from my childhood I would love to share with any future children I have, but as a young '90s girl with a strange name — in other words, a name that wasn't Ashley, Britney, or Jessica — Kevin Hawkes's Chrysanthemum holds a special place in my heart. A sweet and thoughtful book about an imaginative young mouse whose long name gets her teased by classmates, this classic picture book will hopefully always send the same timeless message: love yourself and your uniqueness, and others will, too.
'Matilda' by Roald Dahl
Speaking of classic children's books, Roald Dahl's Matilda may be well-known to millions of young readers around the world, but this 1988 middle grade novel will always be something special to me, and hopefully someday, my daughter. A magical story about love, family, reading, learning, and growing up, it's the kind of children's book that keeps hearts young years after reading it, and what better gift to give your kid than a piece of their youth they can always carry with them?
'The Outsiders' by S.E. Hinton
The first book to keep me up reading all night until its heartbreaking conclusion, The Outsiders made me fall in love with not only reading, but writing. The classic story of love, loyalty, and family enthralled me in a way that proved reading could be just as, if not more, entertaining than Nickelodeon cartoons. Ponyboy's affinity for reading instilled in me a similar affection for bookish things, and his drive to write his story down stayed with me through childhood and well into my professional adult life. Since first reading it, S.E. Hinton, a female author who found success at an early age despite being a woman in a male-dominated field, has stood as an inspiration for my own writing and continued fight for women's equality. I can only hope to pass along the same kind of empowerment to my future daughter.
'The Face on the Milk Carton' by Caroline B. Cooney
While a book about a possible kidnapped child might not be the kind of story you want to share with your own child, The Face on the Milk Carton is one I'm saving for my future daughter, just so I can share the wonder of mystery with her. This Caroline B. Cooney's classic was one of the first "young adult" books I read that I didn't feel like talked down to me in any way, and it is one of the earliest reads that got me hooked to mysteries and thrillers. The first in a fascinating coming-of-age series, The Face on the Milk Carton will hopefully inspire in my kid the same kind of insatiable, rapid page-turning it inspired in me.
'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' by J.K. Rolwing
Every child, and I mean every child, should get a chance to read the most magical, wonderful, enchanting series of all times: Harry Potter. One of my all-time favorite reads and the book that got me through my childhood, adolescence, teen years, and now, adulthood, I can't wait to watch my own daughters face light up the first time she meets my hero: Hermione Granger.
'Ella Enchanted' by Gail Carson Levine
Speaking of badass YA heroines from the '90s, the titular character from Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted certainly makes the list of young fictional girls I can't wait to introduce my own daughter to. A smart, funny, and brave woman who isn't afraid to fight for what she wants, Ella, who I adored as a child, is exactly the kind of role model I want for my own children.
'Dealing with Dragons' by Patricia C. Wrede
I will just keep the theme of incredibly inspiring young women going with Princess Cimorene, a vivacious girl who refuses to accept her lot in life and instead seeks out knowledge, wonder, and adventure at every turn. Dealing with Dragons challenges the typical stereotype of what female protagonists should be in books, and instead sends a clear message: girls can be and do whatever they want. All they have to do is take the chance.
'Speak' by Laurie Halse Anderson
While this book may seem a little out of place in a roundup of inspiring, empowering, and sentimental reads for girls, Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak changed my young adult life is such significant ways, I hope to pass it on to a daughter who it can do the same for. A powerful, gut-wrenching story about trauma, loss, and recovery, Speak will be a book I not only pass on to by daughter, but reread with her.