Books we take with us

Just recently, my husband took a new job in a new part of the country. We are moving to Evanston, IL from Hanover, NH. It’s a big change. And can I brag about my son, a rising senior in high school? He is taking the news like an opportunity….”I trust you,” he said.

Now the hard part: packing.

Or should I say: packing and throwing. Because we really would like to start this new life with a lot less stuff.

And my husband reminded me: that includes BOOKS.

(He’s not wrong. I do have a lot of them.)

Yesterday, we began the process. ie: the negotiations.

Being the reasonable person I am (having fought for and saved the hand made dollhouse, the Thomas trains and a huge herd of plastic dinosaurs), I said, “Okay. I’ll donate a bunch of them to the library. Or a school.”

And here’s the irony: sharing books is as exciting as reading them. Going through my bookshelves reminded me of all the things I’ve learned by reading lots and lots and lots of books.

But some I can’t part with. I know I’ll want to read them again.

First box: my collection of middle grade novels that I still use to teach.

Second box is more important: the books that meant a lot to my kids as young readers.






(It works.)

I asked them to choose which middle grade novels to keep, the ones they still remember YEARS after reading them.

Here are their picks:

Rebecca’s first book: RIDING FREEDOM.






She loved this book–not because she loved horses–but because it was about a girl who risked everything. She ran away. Changed her identity. For what she wanted. “That book really inspired me,” she said. “It made me think that everything was possible.

ALSO ON HER LIST: Swear to Howdy, Harry Potter, esp 1 and 3, Esperanza Rising, and a whole stack of classics, most notably, Little Women. (She started a Pickwick club in middle school.)

Elliot’s first title: BUNNICULA.

I would bet he has read this book two thousand times. (In fact, I caught him reading it two weeks ago.) He has also listened to it on tape. When he was very small, I once found him, tears running down his face, listening to the author’s note, Howe’s tribute to his late wife, Deborah. For a long time, when I would catch Elliot looking blue, he’d say, “I’m just thinking about Debbie.” The irony that this person could create something enduring…and die…still makes him melancholy.

His list also includes a ton of history books, The Notorious Benedict Arnold, The Secret Lives of US Presidents, graphic novels, Captain Underpants, A stack of Garth Nix and Jonathan Stroud, and HP 1-3 and 5-7. (4 makes him sad.)

I chose books too, most notably the two stolen library books that I still have with me from childhood. (The statute of  limitations has run out, right?) The first is Judy Blume’s BLUBBER.

   Oh, that bathroom scene.





The other is Patricia Clapp’s JANE EMILY.

If you want a creepy story, it’s available at many libraries, minus one.

I’m proud to say: I’m down to six boxes from eighteen. 

Now time to look at the shoes.




Sarah Aronson writes books for kids and teens. She teaches online classes for Even though she’s leaving New England, she’ll be back in Montpelier for the tenth annual Novel Writing Retreat at Vermont College. 

Sarah Aronson