I recently found myself tracking down first editions of my favorite children’s books on the Internet. I credit my imagination, my creativity, and my love for the brittle and musty page to the books I read as a young girl. I often buy new editions of my old favorites for friends’ children, knowing, of course, that classic children’s books might not affect contemporary kids as they affected me. But still, some titles are timeless classics which every child should know. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to discuss those children’s books that had the biggest impact on me. I hope to carry them all in the store sometime soon.

First (in no particular order) is The Boxcar Children, the first book in the series by Gertrude Chandler Warner. It’s the story of four orphaned children who take refuge in an old train car. The series included 19 books from 1924-1976, but my favorite was the first. My sister and I, along with the neighborhood girls, used to play a game we called “Orphan” in the backyard. It was based on The Boxcar Children, but it was so much more than that. The role-playing adventure got us outside, interacting with nature, imagining an unsafe world while still living inside the safe bubble of suburban Pittsburgh. Now when I look back, I realize it taught me empathy and resilience. I only read a few others in the series, but I reread The Boxcar Children over and over again.