Of course one can't list (or remember!) them all, but here are a few favorite books from childhood:
Dorrie the Little Witch series by Patricia Coombs Before Hermione Granger arrived on the scene, there was Dorrie the Little Witch. Dorrie is a young girl witch whose hat is always on crooked and whose socks never match. These are picture books, although the stories are much longer than most picture books these days. I always loved the magic and mayhem in these stories, and it’s been extremely pleasing to me that my daughter enjoys them, too.
The Cloud Book by Tomie dePaola This book names and describes the different kinds of clouds. Identifying the clouds outside was very pleasing to me as a child, and I’ve recently purchased this book in hopes that my kids will like it, as well.
Harry and the Terrible Whatzit by Dick Gackenbach My siblings and I loved this book when we were young. Harry goes down to the cellar for a jar of pickles and discovers a monster living there. My own kids were afraid when I read them this book last year; I hope to try it again when they’re a bit older!
Space Case by Edward Marshall I recently rediscovered this in the library and experienced an unexpected surge of nostalgia. This picture book is about an alien who arrives on Earth on Halloween, and fits right in with the other kids out trick-or-treating. I loved it as a child, and all over again as a grown up.
The Chronicles of Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander There are five books in this excellent fantasy series about Taran, an Assistant Pig-Keeper who goes on a quest: The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer, and The High King. It has many quintessential fantasy elements, including a bard and a princess, witches and weapons, and battles, of course.
The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper This is the story of a boy named Will, who discovers on his 11th birthday that he is the last of the Sign-Seekers and must battle the evil that threatens to take over the world. Powerful stuff.
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl Like lots of children, I read many, many Roald Dahl books. James and the Giant Peach made a lasting impression, however. I think it was the sharks.
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George Oh, does wilderness survival get any better than this book? The hollow tree in which Sam, the runaway boy protagonist, lives always caught my imagination. What a satisfying story.
The Swing in the Summer House by Jane Langton This book made a distinct impression on me when I was young. The story is fantastical and creepy. Although the children know there’s one particular opening in the summer house they aren’t allowed through, Oliver, the mischief maker, ignores the KEEP OUT sign. When the other children try to find him, they jump off the swing in the summerhouse, and fly into magical, haunting, sometimes bizarre adventures.
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell This is the story of a girl named Karana, whose tribe suffers great losses when Russian fur traders attack. The chief of her people decides to take her tribe to the mainland, but Karana misses the boat. She survives at first with her brother and then on her own for years when she’s stranded on an island off the coast of California. This tale is gritty, as I recall; I think Karana witnesses an actual murder.
The Girl with the Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts Katie, the main character of this story, has silver eyes and can move things with her mind! This book captured my imagination when I was young. I see it’s been reprinted, so I guess I wasn’t alone!
Trixie Belden Mysteries by Julie Campbell Tatham and other authors I read an awful lot of Nancy Drew mysteries, but before I went to that shelf in the library, I always checked for Trixie Belden books first. This is a mystery series featuring the girl detective Trixie Belden and her gang of friends, set in a New York town called Sleepyside-on-Hudson. The other characters most memorable to me are Honey Wheeler and Di; I think one of them owned horses.