Taking a break from the intense!
The other night I was on the phone with a friend. We both tend to tease each other, and it’s all taken very lightly. However, as I was recounting my day, I mentioned that I tried to watch the film version of The Giver (my sister and I were cringing and yelling at the screen most of the time). He asked what that was. I responded with, “are you serious?” and he said he’s never heard of it. At this point I thought he was teasing me, but he insisted he didn’t know what I was talking about.
Slightly shocked, I began to ask him whether he had heard of various books, TV shows, and even computer games that defined my childhood/adolescence. Most of them he hadn’t heard about, much less experienced. So, with each, I gave him a description of what they were about. While also saying I couldn’t believe he didn’t know about these and adamantly insisting he read/watch/play these at least once in his life.
I’m going to talk about some of them, just to enjoy going back through some of my favorites. This is by no means a comprehensive list, and I’ll do my best to limit them to pre-high school. And who knows? Maybe you’ll find these interesting or nostalgic too.
Matilda by Roald Dahl: This could very well by my favorite book, ever. I think part of me felt a connection with Matilda, or maybe I hoped that I was kind of like her. I grew up reading and rereading this book, along with many other Roald Dahl books, as a kid. His imagination always blew me away. And I actually didn’t dislike the movie either, I thought they did a fairly good job with it. Other favorites (which means I read them at least five times as a kid) include The Witches, The BFG, The Twits, and George’s Marvellous Medicine.
Eragon/The Inheritance Series by Christopher Paolini: I really wanted to include this since it has a terrible reputation because of that AWFUL THING THEY CALLED A MOVIE ADAPTATION (I will never not be angry about what they did) while the books are actually really great! Well, the first couple anyway. There are a lot of magical elements and creatures along with major character development in many ways. Highly recommend. I remember sitting on the bus in the fifth-grade reading through the first book; very nostalgic for me.
Falling Up by Shel Silverstein: I mean, any and all of his books work. Falling Up is just the one I’ve read the most and have had on my bookshelf for as long as I can remember. The poems are incredibly endearing and the illustrations complete them in a way that I hadn’t realized was so pivotal until recently. Also, there’s The Giving Tree which I grew up knowing as one my dad’s favorites stories. The only thing was Silverstein’s large (and honestly a bit scary) face on the back but regardless, it was (is) a cherished book.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis: I grew up reading this series through at least a couple times. I remember for one of my birthdays (maybe tenth? Eleventh?) my parents bought me the collection. Being a pastor’s kid, I knew a lot of what the allusions were and was aware of the biblical references. My dad would tell me about his favorite characters and scenes which I liked to think about when I read those parts, and sometimes we would talk about it later.
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket: I’m so happy someone–Netflix–is finally doing these books justice! At least so far so good in my eyes. I don’t remember when I jumped in and started reading them as they came out, but I do remember being in major suspense for the last two books. As the books progressed the plot became increasingly complicated and intense which kept me engaged. Every now and then I’ll open one of the books just to read a little and remind myself what happened in that specific one. Before I know it, I’m rereading the entire series because I can’t put them down. And the illustrations and the end that gave clues for the next book..! Definitely one of my favorite series.
A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle: This book holds a special place in my heart. The following books were good, but for me nothing compares to the first one. There was something about the science fiction elements and vivid imagery that captured my imagination from beginning to end. I’ve reread it recently, devoured it, and am going through the rest of the series. It’s a lovely story and was likely formative of my love for science fiction/fantasy themed books.
Zoboomafoo: I cannot ever express how much I loved this show. I would seriously watch it if they still aired it on TV. They introduced so many different animals along with information about them; I wonder if I can trace my love for wildlife back to this show. Maybe it shaped how much I want to work with animals now..? The opening was always my favorite, with the lemur swinging around and the catchy music. I should see if I can re-watch this show somewhere…
Arthur: Man, it’s weird, I don’t remember the shows nearly as well as I remember the books. But Arthur was one of those shows I would be excited for when I turned on the television and it was on. The library card song is iconic. The opening is just as iconic. Every now and then I’ll think about it, it’ll get stuck in my head, and I’ll start singing it much to the annoyance of my siblings.
Wallace and Gromit: I’m not entirely sure which category they should fall under? Maybe short films? But I’m going to throw it in here because it fits best from the categories I’m including. My mom would show us these and they became a staple in mine and my siblings’ childhoods. Actually, because of Wallace and Gromit I tried to make my own stop motion videos (they weren’t very good).
Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo: I absolutely adored the Putt-Putt games, but I especially had a fondness for this specific one. Maybe it’s my love for animals (man how far back does this go)? I actually bought it on Steam through my brother’s account. Even though it took me less than an hour–probably less than half an hour–to get through it, I just completely enjoyed every second of it. There’s something satisfying about getting those baby animals back to their families, figuring out what needs to be done and found in each section that helps the other section, even painting Putt-Putt different colors. The other one that I loved almost as much was when he went to the moon.
Let’s Explore the Airport (Buzzy Bee): Yeah, I can’t count how many times I played this one. I actually found it on Steam too, been debating about buying it for awhile now. I should just do it. But yeah, I think my favorite part about this game was sorting the luggage. Even to this day I’ll think about this game whenever I go to the airport. I don’t think many people have heard of it or played it (that I’ve noticed), so maybe it’s just me that enjoyed it so much?
Freddi Fish (and the Case of the Missing Kelp Seeds): FREDDI FISH OMYGOD. My dad would always say, “Grandma Grouper!” when I brought this game up. I cannot ever fully express how much this game means to me, with the music and the characters and the plot; I’m going to find this game and play it and completely absorb the nostalgia that comes with it. I don’t even have much else to say about it because I’m overwhelmed by my love for it.
Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?: Okay, for awhile I actually couldn’t remember what game this was called because all I could recall was going around the globe and seeing different wonders of the world or well-known landmarks. Then I started looking it up and realized this was it. I want to play it again just to remember again more of the plot and I’m sure it will quickly jog my memory.
So that’s what I’ve got! This post took awhile to write, mostly because I had to figure out which things to choose for each category and really try and narrow down what I wanted to share. Believe me, there are plenty of other games, shows, books that I didn’t mention that have been very formative. Maybe in the future I’ll revisit this? Or do one for high school/college years.
Let me know if there’s anything you would add, or if you also have any memories of childhood medias as well!