I don't remember being aware of authors as such when I was a kid. The only one whose name made an impression on me was C.S. Lewis, partly because it's such an excellent name, partly because I was so desperate to find something that moved me like the Chronicles of Narnia that I tried to find all his other books and ended up reading The Screwtape Letters. It didn't exactly work out.
The other author whose name I knew was Judy Blume, because…because she's Judy Blume, that's why! She was just spoken of, is all. We talked about Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, we talked about Forever (yes, and page 56? Or 156? I'm looking at you, people who were 13 in 1978).
But other than those two? I knew the books, not the authors.
And so the other day I was taken aback when we were unpacking all our books (hallelujah!) and this happened:
Me to Chestnut: Oh, look at this! You would love Blubber. It's upsetting but excellent.
Chestnut (sternly): No thank you.
Me: But you'd really like it! It's just the kind of stuff you like to read about, and it's Judy Blume! You would love Judy Blume.
Chestnut (still more sternly): No! I've read Judy Blume. I read all the Fudge books.
Me: Oh, those are great, but I really think you'd like this, it's all about—
Chestnut (with great dignity): I already have a favorite author. My favorite author is Pam Munoz Ryan.
I was…struck. Who has a favorite author when they're 9? It was the seriousness of it all that killed me. And she does, indeed, love the work of Pam Munoz Ryan.
And it just seemed clear: the independent and interior world that my children have built with their reading is established, and it's just a foreshadowing, really, of the actual private world they will create for themselves as they get older. At least I think it is. It's sort of like how girls' feet grow full size first, and then the rest of them catches up. First you determine your own independent literary taste, then your own life.
I'm glad she has a favorite author. And I respect that it's someone whose work she discovered outside our house, a writer who is quite wonderful in her own way, even if it's not Judy Blume.
13 thoughts on “Who’s Your Favorite Author?”
I remember reading “Henrietta’s House” by Elizabeth Goudge as a child, and instantly “recognizing” her as my favourite author. I still return to her children’s books, and some of her fiction for adults, as comfort reading when I need it.
Good for Chestnut, but I still like Judy Blume. Even though I turned 13 in 1977.
Oh, my 10-year old daughter has had “favorite authors” for years now. In first grade, she wrote to Mary Pope Osbourne. She also ADORES JK Rowling and Rick Riordan. (she’s written to JK as well – quite a correspondent, that one!)
I was actually just emailing a friend about how much I enjoy the writer Kate Atkinson. So I suppose my Maggie comes by it naturally…
Great post. My favourite authors were Tolkien and C.S. Lewis too. I guess picking a favourite author is a way of defining who you see yourself, at least when you’re older. At 9, I guess it’s more about being able to choose someone that belongs only to you, and whom you don’t have to share with anyone else. To discover what I considered to be great literature was very much a private pleasure when I was that age, as I remember it now.
I think those favorite authors are so important! They say something about who you are as a person (not sure what, though…).
My favorite author when I was a kid was Lloyd Alexander. I loved him so much that I did my 5th grade author study on him in tandem with a friend, and we called him on the phone to interview him for our paper. He talked with us for at least a half an hour and then sent us each a letter complete with drawings of cats! He also gave us a sneak preview of his newest book, which was going to be published in a few months – it was The Beggar Queen. I vividly remember his wife answering the phone, and when we asked for Mr. Alexander, saying “hang on a minute” and then yelling “LLOYYYYYYYYD!” It was almost 30 years ago and I can remember the conversation as if it happened today. What a wonderful man. And he still happens to be one of my favorite authors.
The book I read the most (say, maybe 20 times) around age 11 was the Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare … I had a serious Alexander Dumas phase around the same time … then in high school I read everything by Ayn Rand – yikes! but those were the first novels I ever read that had philosophical musings … and lo and behold, I majored in Philosophy in college.
I too, enjoyed Judy Blume as a kid. But know as and adult and a teacher, I think she is dated for our children of today. My older boy loves Anthony Horowitz and my younger one eats up anything by written by James Patterson (YA books).
I think Judy Blume still speaks to kids, but she doesn’t feel so particularly theirs as much, is all.
That is awesome, Kiera!
This was a post that was very enlightening for me as a parent of younger children. Even now quite a few small events that have made me realize they’re beginning to create their own personalities and worlds; simultaneously I need to take a step back and relinquish control. Bittersweet, but also exciting. Reading about times like these is like seeing our future path lit up ahead for a few moments.
Back in our world, my very active 4-year-old son for the first time spent 5 or 10 daytime minutes quietly reading through a book on his own. I am not sure whether he was actually reading words or not, it’s still unclear. But oh boy that was a sweet few minutes; to see him engaging with a book, and also to get some total peace and quiet 😉
Hey Elizabeth- MY favorite adult author for years has been Elizabeth Goudge. Sweet, sentimental, good stories. I reread her stuff for comfort. I even visited Wells (where she lived) and named my daughter after her. Well her and my favorite children’s author, Elizabeth Enright. Again, with the good, decent people in engaging stories. Still like them both a lot.
Hands down, LM Montgomery… I still turn to The Blue Castle and Jane of Lantern Hill when I need a comfort read. I was also pretty devoted to the works of Louisa May Alcott.
I go away for a few days, and then I feel all crappy and full of dread checking in on the blog, and there I find such thoughtful and amazing comments it wipes out all feelings except a sense of phenomenal luckiness to be able to witness these conversations. Thank you!
My favorite writer is Carol Denise Mitchell for her book What Happened to Suzy. I found the book on Readersfavorite.com and ordered it from Amazon.com Kindle. It was the most powerful book on Child Abuse I ever read. I was surprised that the author had lived to tell her story. One of the most memorable scenes was when the writer’s mother imitated her to show her how ugly she really was. Great writer, great book and winner of the 2011 book award.