The Influences Of Childhood Books

I came across an exercise recently in The Daily Writer which asked the following questions:

Think back to a favourite book from your childhood.
How did it affect you?
What did you learn?
Has it influenced your life?

I scoffed, I truly did! Yeah, like a book I read as a child could still be having an impact on me now? Ha ha ha, influenced my life? *mutter grumble* And then I wrote down in my notebook the 3 books that I loved the most in my childhood…

The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy M Boston

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Toms Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce


I had to go and reacquaint my self with these books. Gawd, I haven’t read them for 30+years! So I checked them out on Amazon and Wikipedia….and wow, it all came flooding back!

Ok, you may not be familiar with these so I’ll give you a brief outline of each…

Green Knowe is about a young boy, Tolly, going to live with his grandmother in a big old stately home (Green Knowe) where he meets the ghosts of children who lived there before.

Secret Garden, written in 1910, is about a little orphan girl, Mary who goes to live with her uncle in a big old manor house, where she finds a secret garden and a cousin who lives in the attic.

Midnight Garden is about a boy, Tom, who goes to live with his aunt in a big manor house built in the 1880’s and when the clock strikes 13 he discovers a beautiful garden and a little girl to play with.

There is a lot more to these stories but I don’t want to bore you…..check out the links if you want to know more πŸ™‚

Those who know me (in real life) will know the following about me:
1. I wasn’t brought up in a traditional family environment.
2. I’ve always had a fascination with big old houses and stately homes.
3. I love the whole idea of ghosts, I’m always watching documentaries or reading books about them. I love ghost story films especially!
4. I find myself drawn to anything Victorian or Edwardian. I can have a table full of items and always pick the Victorian or Edwardian one without even knowing it is, because I like it the most.
5. I LOVE walled gardens! The last couple of houses we’ve lived in have had them and it was one if the reasons I liked them enough to live there!

Spooky huh? I’m sorry I scoffed now! Lol.

As an adult I find myself drawn to books that are based on historical events, people and settings. A fictionalised account of something real, or someone that once lived. I really should try to write one! Lol. Or perhaps I should try my hand at a ghost story? This has given me lots to think about πŸ˜‰

Has a book from your childhood influenced your life?

50 thoughts on “The Influences Of Childhood Books

  1. The only one I’m familiar with of yours is The Secret Garden. I love that story. The book I most remember from childhood is Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. It’s the one book I can remember my mother reading aloud to me. I made sure to read it to my daughter as well.


  2. Okay, that is a little spooky. Then I started thinking about my childhood books. Same thing. And funny timing. You’ve got to read my post tomorrow – which I wrote a month ago. I’ve heard a lot about Secret Garden but have never read it. And buildings? I can usually get within about 10 years or so of the build date, especially one built before 1920. πŸ™‚


  3. secret garden wonderful book – coincidence I have been reading the books of my childhood this week in preparation for the A-Z in April where I intend to revist books I have read over the 60+ years of active reading I have indulged in – exploring influences on me, changes in style and language and recording of social life of the time -Secret Garden was certainly one of the influences in my childhood – the old houses and walled gardens not so much as I grew up in old Victorian houses , my grandmothers, from late Victorian/Edwardian era lived with us so all that was normal to me:) -I have made you green with envy now haven’t I:) Books all through our life leave a trace of something in our beings – stories, stories, stories, humans are hardwired for them:)


    • Oooooo, good choice for the A-Z challenge Alberta πŸ™‚

      You have! Although I was brought up in a Victorian house, and the house I live in now was built in 1891. I’ve thought several times about writing the story if this house, especially as the man who built it named it after his blind son….would probably make a good children’s story πŸ˜‰

      Oh definitely!!!! I didn’t really believe that until I did this exercise πŸ™‚



  4. Vikki, I would say ditto on The Secret Garden and other such types. My teen years were influenced by a book called Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt and naturally, Dame Agatha Christi. Childhood favorites were Pippi Longstocking and Nancy Drew. I loved the image of a stong little girl and a cunning young lady who could take care of themselves and others and want to fight against injustice. Did this translate into my adult writing? In every way possible … yes.

    About your love of ghost stories … I share that passion and have a book series which features real life ghosts stories and sightings and a young girl who finds out she has the power to travel through time to right the wrongs for those trapped in the “middle world.” With the help of a very appealing angel named Liam, she learns to help spirits get to their proper rhelm in the afterlife. I love, love ghosts stories. You really should consider using the influences you mentioned in your work. Millions of us love the Victorian and Edwardian eras and who doesn’t love a ghost story?

    I’ve done tons of research and your Tower of London and the QE ship is loaded with spirits that roam through our world, trapped in the middle world, those folks make great stories !!


    • Oh brilliant Florence! I can’t really see (yet!) how those books have influencing what I’ve already written, but, it’s definitely something I want to explore at a later date πŸ˜‰

      Ooooo, your book series sounds wonderful! Is it for children or adults?

      Yes, I will definitely try a ghost story, I promise! πŸ™‚

      I went past the Tower of London yesterday! I really should go back and visit πŸ™‚



  5. Reblogged this on Mandyevebarnett's Blog and commented:
    This brought up memories for me and I’m sure it will do the same for you! I read a great deal as a child and will have to look deeply into which books were the top for me. However, one does ring out – Stig of the Dump – I even re-read it last year! Now to discover the meanings for me…I’ll be back. Have fun with this exercise.


  6. I loved all of those, but now that you mention it, my childhood favourites were the Pirate Books (when I was beginning to read: Roderick the Red, Gregory the Green, Benjamin the Blue, remember those?), then Swallows and Amazons, Pippi Longstocking, the Moomins… and it occurs to me that they were all about going forth and having adventures. Hmmm. So perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised at the many moves and changes in my life, should I? Great thinking point, thanks for bringing it up!


  7. My favourite ever childhood book was The Growing Summer by Noel Streatfield. I’m pretty sure I’m turning into Great Aunt Dymphna and she is definitely behind some of the characters I’ve come up with! I still have my original copy and re-read it a few years ago. Can totally recommend it! I also loved The Secret Garden and Tom’s Midnight Garden – snap!


  8. You would love Kate Morton’s Secret Garden. Something Garden anyway.

    That explains a lot my fave was Little Red Riding Hood πŸ™‚


    • Awwwww πŸ™‚

      Hmmmmm, the first 2 are kind of about little people becoming hero’s aren’t they? But I don’t know how Pooh fits in with that? Perhaps he was just a hero to Christopher?

      Great books though Robin πŸ™‚



  9. The Black Stallion series by Walter Farley always captured my imagination. My love of animals was definitely given to me by both my mother and father, but these books gave me a way to put words to that feeling.


  10. I’m not sure how Roald Dalh’s “BFG” or “The Witches” influenced me, other than I’m ever so slightly suspicious of women with large / elongated nostril openings πŸ™‚


    • Ha ha ha, that’s funny Elliot!

      It reminded me of that film, what was it? A Company of Wolves, where the girl says her grandmother warned her not to marry a man who’s eyebrows meet in the middle lol

      I’m sure you learnt something πŸ˜‰



  11. This is a very interesting post.
    I liked the Tripod series by John Christopher. Loved anything by Edgar Rich Bouroughs. Childhood was a very long time ago for me I’m going to ponder this for a while.


    • Thanks for stopping by Jai πŸ™‚

      The Tripod Series? Wow, I’ve never heard of it… Will look it up.

      Ha ha ha, you and me both honey! Can’t believe I read those books over 30 years ago 😦

      Time flies doesn’t it πŸ™‚



  12. I remember you telling me you were thinking about maybe writing something in a historical time. Have you thought of anything?

    I loved “The Secret Garden,” also. Secret passages and ghosts make for great stories.


      • Research takes a lot of time. I’m lucky I did the vast majority of mine for Sons of the Edisto prior to the birth of my son and while I was earning my undergraduate degree.


  13. Well my list includes Stig of the Dump and Haiwatha as I have already said but also Wind in the Willows, Alice in Wonderland , Winne the Pooh (only for Tigger BTW!) and The Secret Garden. All of them have clear individuals who make a difference to someone else! I strive to help others and fight for the underdog…maybe they influenced that or just reinforced it. Not sure but extremely interesting all the same.


  14. Pingback: Toady…do childhood memories inspire? | Mandyevebarnett's Blog

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