I just saw this blog post about Nancy Drew's 80th anniversary in print! Wow, that really makes me feel nostalgic for my childhood reading. (Not that I read it 80 years ago or anything, LOL). I loved the Nancy Drew books when I was a kid, mostly for the characters and the historical details like Nancy's little roadster and her chic clothes (the mysteries were pretty easy to figure out...). My parents would buy me a copy of a Nancy book when we went on road trips, and would get mad when I read it in the first hour and then demanded another! Good times. :)
When I was very small, some of my favorite books were the Eloise stories. I wanted to live in a hotel and wreak havoc among the guests! I also had a great fondness for "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" (the book was totally different from the creepy movie--I still have nightmares about that child chaser!), though my mother hated it because it was very long to read aloud. I remember a book about princesses with massively long hair and a Sesame Street scratch-and-sniff with a very stinky Oscar the Grouch page.
Later I found the Noel Stretfeild "Shoe" books--Ballet Shoes, Skating Shoes, Theater Shoes, etc and dove into their very English world. It gave me a real love both for English history and culture and the world of the performing arts. (I recently came across a not-too-bad adaptation of Ballet Shoes on Netflix, starring Emma Watson and Emilia Fox. If your kid also loves these books you might want to check this out!). There were also the usual books beloved by bookish girls--Anne of Green Gables, Little Women (though I was appalled at their prissy attitude toward fun things like clothes and parties!), Little House on the Prairie, etc. I was also crazy about the Betsy-Tacy books (I've been seeing these around a lot lately!)
A little later, I discovered Barbara Cartland novels and devoured every copy I could find! (And there were a lot of them). They gave me a real gift in introducing me to a wide variety of historical settings--Regency ballrooms, Lily Langtry's theater, India during the Mutiny, an Elizabethan pirate ship, a gypsy camp--and sending me to the library to check out non-fiction books to learn more. However, they did me a real disservice in my high school dating life when I found out there were NO sardonic dukes among the boys there. Not one.
I also found the "Sunfire" YA historical romances. (I bypassed "Sweet Valley High" entirely, thankfully!). These were American-set books, but they also featured a wide variety of settings and character types--Revolutionary Philadelphia, the Mayflower, Gilded Age New York, 1812 New Orleans, wagon trains, the Triangle factory fire, the Titanic. Each featured a girl (whose name was the title) who had to discover herself and choose between 2 suitors. They were a wonderful gateway to "adult" historical romance!
What were your favorite books growing up???