More NPR staffers respond to intern Nicole’s survey about their favorite books from when they were kids that still speak to them as grown-ups:
Code Switch’s Karen Grigsby Bates wrote in about The Big Jump by Benjamin Elkin:
[A] fairy tale in which a king bets a little boy he cannot jump the 500 or so steps to his throne. The little boy accepts the challenge — then proceeds to reach the throne by jumping up several steps. The king at first is affronted, but when reminded he didn’t specify HOW the distance be conquered, just THAT it be conquered, he agreed and paid up. Moral to me: difficult, seemingly impossible tasks can be achieved in small steps. Or jumps.
Arts correspondent Mandalit Del Barco says:
L. Frank Baum’s “Oz” books! I still have the entire series, which I’ll pass on to my daughter. The series got me dreaming about adventure travel, whimsical fantasy, and going over the rainbow, but also taught me “there’s no place like home.”
Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird had a lasting impact on Carline Watson, head of NPR’s brand new Identity and Culture unit:
I read it aged around 12 or 13 and was so outraged by the injustice suffered by Tom Robinson and his family. I read it from time to time and it reminds me of how little and yet how much has changed.
Arts editor Deborah George says Phillis Garrard’s Jenny’s Secret Island is a great read for a 10-year-old girl:
I came across this obscure book one day in the library when I was about 10. It was written in 1943. It’s about a young girl whose parents are both poets, nice but absentminded and they let her alone a lot of the time. One day she gets fed up with school and just walks out of the classroom…she finds a boat and paddles out to a tiny island where she makes camp. Won’t tell you the ending.
I wanted to BE Jenny (especially the walking out of school part). She was fierce but self-possessed.
Arts producer Mallory Yu wrote in with The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster:
It taught me … how much joy and playfulness and discovery the English language could bring. Also: “So many things are possible, just as long as you don’t know they’re impossible.” And “you often learn more by being wrong for the right reasons than you do by being right for the wrong reasons.”
And finally, Five Children and It by E. Nesbit taught team member Lidia Jean Kott how to wake up without an alarm clock. Here are the steps — which actually work, according to Lidia Jean — laid out in the story:
You get into bed at night … and lie down quite flat on your little back with your hands straight down by your sides. Then you say ‘I must wake up at five’ (or six, or seven, or eight, or nine, or whatever the time is that you want), and as you say it you push your chin down on to your chest and then bang your head back on the pillow. And you do this as many times as there are ones in the time you want to wake up at. (It is quite an easy sum.)