When I was a kid I didn't read very many books at all. I was poor and lived in the middle of nowhere. The local library was 5kms away and, with 1 car and a whack of kids in tow, my mom didn't get a chance to take us there very often. The few book shelves we had at home were lined with Reader's Digest Condensed Books and several "A-B" volumes of encyclopedias that were free sample give-aways at the grocery store. It wasn't until I was in Grade 11 that an inspiring English teacher really showed me what it meant to get lost in a book. I haven't quite found my way out yet.
Back then, the not-yet grown-up me devoured Dickens, Bradbury, Huxley, Tolkien, Salinger and John Fowles. A few years later I found myself in the second year of an undergraduate degree. I registered for what I hoped would be an easy elective for an English major: Children's Literature. That class and its instructor, Stan Dragland, changed my life. First off, the course was not at all easy. The reading load was heavy and we were required to submit weekly written assignments in addition to weighty term papers. Over the course of the year my writing improved, my critical thinking skills sharpened and, for the first time in my life, I learned that children's literature is rich, diverse, and complex. Heaven forbid anyone call it a lesser literature in my presence. Ursula Le Guin, Alan Garner, E.B. White, T.H. White, Natalie Babbitt, Lewis Carroll, Patricia MacLachlan, Louise Fitzhugh and L.M. Montgomery were all on that syllabus. There's nothing diminutive about them.
Since taking that life-changing class, I have read, literally, thousands of children's and young adult books. I do, however, have a shame-faced confession to make.
I've never read The Wizard of Oz.
I've never read Pippi Longstocking.
Nor have I read Little House on the Prairie.
In fact, I've not read any Baum, Lindgren, or Wilder whatsoever. There are others too--gaping holes in my knowledge of the genre that has given me my livelihood. And so this year, I vow to read at least one work by the following:
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Would any of you like to suggest the best individual titles from any one of those authors to get me started? Alternatively, would you like to confess your dirty, secret lapses in reading? C'mon, you can do it. That's why the comment section is there.