What was your favorite book as a child?

  • Summer Hours Monday-Friday: 8:30am-6:00pm; Saturday-Sunday 1-5pm
  •   SSHEL North (Room 100) and SSHEL South (Room 101), Main Library
  • (217) 244-1864
  • sshel@library.illinois.edu


This exhibit was created during the 2010-11 academic year, and polled Librarians, Staff, and Graduate Assistants who were working in the Education and Social Sciences Library at that time.


The former Education and Social Science Library staff all grew up reading. We would like to share our love of reading with others through this virtual exhibit of our favorite childhood books. You can also see what the ESSL staff looked like when they were children. Look for these books and more childhood favorites in our School (S-) Collection of children's books!

The book cover images were either scanned or taken from the Online Library Catalog and I-Share catalogs. To find the location of these books, search the Online Library Catalog.


ESSL Staff Favorites



Bloomability book coveryoung Barratt

Bloomability by Sharon Creech, 1998.

13-year-old Dinnie Doone has lived all over the U.S., but she embarks on a new adventure when her uncle gets a job as the headmaster of an international boarding school in Switzerland and brings her with him. Dinnie learns to ski, speak Italian, and discovers that the world is full of "bloomabilities."





Little House on the Prairie book cover young Beth

Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

My favorite childhood book(s) was the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I was an early reader, and so from a very young age I enjoyed the “grown-up” feeling of reading chapter books about a little girl not so different from myself, who grew up in a very different time. Vignettes from those books (making maple syrup candy in the snow; playing catch with a pig’s bladder balloon; Ma accidentally slapping a bear) have remained fixed in my memory, although it has been many years since I last read the stories. Autobiographical memoirs are my favorite genre to this day, and I believe that the Little House books are the reason.





Green Eggs and Ham book cover young Cindy


Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss, 1960.

I read this book over and over when I was very small. I loved the rhyming in the book and the repetition of “I do not like them Sam I am” . I also identified with the stubbornness of the unnamed character, because I could be pretty stubborn as a child.





Gone-Away Lake book cover young Erin

Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright, 1957.

Gone-Away Lake is not only my favorite childhood book, but it has continued to be one of my favorite books as an adult as well. Every couple of years I reread it, and am always just as captivated as I was the first time I discovered it. The book centers around a girl named Portia who travels with her younger brother Foster to visit their aunt and uncle and their cousin Julian for the summer. Portia and Julian take a hike one day and discover a row of dilapidated and somewhat scary-looking old mansions. They soon find out that two of the mansions are still inhabited by an elderly brother and sister who were children when the community, formerly known as Gone-Away, was new and vibrant. As Portia and Julian spend more time with their new friends, they learn all about the colorful characters who used to live in the mansions. Their adventures at Gone-Away Lake bring to life the carefree days of being a child in the summertime.





The Little Ballerina book cover young Joyce

The Little Ballerina by Dorothy Grider, 1958.

I received this book from my Godparents when I was about 6 years old.  It was always special to me and still is!  I dreamed of becoming a ballerina just like many other girls.

(Not available at UIUC; locate through I-Share)




Tuck Everlasting book cover young Katelyn

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, 1985.

This book has always mesmerized me. There is something both realistic and magical about the opening scene with Winnie, a young girl not allowed outside her family’s fenced in yard. She sees a frog outside the fence and wants to join it. Her parents don’t let her, but she is soon drawn outside the fence by music coming from the forest, and escapes on an adventure with the mysterious Tuck family.





Ella Enchanted book cover young Lauren

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, 1997.

One of my favorite books is Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. I grew up reading fairy tales, and when I noticed this book on the shelf at my school’s book sale, I was immediately intrigued.  Ella is a strong, spunky, very relatable heroine.  Her good nature earns her many friends, and her positive attitude allows her to tackle a variety of challenges. I enjoy reading this book as much today as I did when I was thirteen.





Scuffy the Tugboat and His Adventures Down the River book cover young Lynda

Scuffy the Tugboat and His Adventures Down the River by Gertrude Crampton, 1946.

One of the bedtime stories my brother and I requested our parents read was the story of Scuffy the Tugboat and his Adventures Down the River by Gertrude Crampton. Approximately 30 years later, I watched my sons listen with avid interest as my parents shared the tiny tugboat's adventure with them. Just last Christmas, I had the joy of sharing this story with my grandson, Simon. This is a small Golden Book but the story has given my family hours of wonderful sharing time for both the reader and the listener.

(S.808.8 L721)




The Little Engine that Could book cover young Lynne

The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper, 1930.

It could be my small stature, or the fact that we traveled by train a great deal when I was young, but The Little Engine That Could was one of my very favorite books. Its story is simple - don't give up! Although I do not think I will ever come to the rescue of a superliner or pull toys over a mountain, the message is a good one. "I think I can, I think I can...."

(Q. SE. P661l)




Tikki Tikki Tembo book cover young Megean

Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel, 1968.

The name Tikki Tikki Tembo No Sa Rembo Cherry Berry Ruchi Pip Perry Pembo has long been ingrained in my memory.  Along with Dr. Seuss books, this story is where I discovered enjoyment in alliteration and rhyming-- and tongue-twisting my parents.  Somehow, as an eight year-old, correcting my parents on pronunciation felt really, really awesome.





An Old-fashioned Girl book cover young Nancy

Two of my childhood favorite books are Ukelele and Her New Doll, and An Old-Fashioned Girl.  The first book is part of the Little Golden Book series, and depicts an island child forsaking her well-loved old doll for a fashionable new doll given to her by a sea captain.  At the end, she realizes that her love for the old doll is much more important than having something new and sophisticated.  This values-laden story moved me right into similar reading as I got older.  Louisa May Alcott's An Old-Fashioned Girl once again depicts the importance of holding fast to your own values despite the temptations of material possessions.  I'm not sure if these books shaped my values, or simply confirmed them, but they definitely had an impact.  I try to look at things for their own worth, and not just at things with a shiny, new appearance.  I guess you really shouldn't judge a book by its cover!  Although, in the case of these two books they have colorful covers and are enjoyable reading.

Ukelele and Her New Doll, by Clara Louise Grant; pictures by Campbell Grant, 1951. (S.808.8 L721, v.102)
An Old-Fashioned Girl, by Louisa May Alcott, 1890. (813 AL19O)