When I was a child, I read voraciously, as most of us probably did. What I didn't have was any kind of framework for putting these books into context, and except for Laura Ingalls Wilder, I didn't really pay much attention to the authors' names, much less know who they were. I knew the names of Kipling and Stevenson because of "Just-So Stories" and their poems, respectively, but the names didn't signify anything except entertainment.
Some of them were more important in the aggregate than as individual texts. There was a long series of juvenile biographies that I made a beeline for every time I went to the library. The ones on Elizabeth Blackwell and George Washington Carver made a special impression, but I ate them all up.
Two of my favorites were a couple of books of fairy tales, one with "The Little Mermaid" and "The Tinder-Box" and "The Little Match Girl" and "The Snow-Queen"; I think I knew about Hans Christian Andersen at that point. But I didn't pay any attention to the author of the other book, because I didn't know his name, though his stories"The Happy Prince" and "The Nightingale and the Rose" were ones I read over and over. Who'd ever heard of Oscar Wilde, anyway? Not me.
And my very favorite books of all for a while, which I picked out of a bargain bin somewhere because of their covers, had stories of Jason and the Golden Fleece, Cadmus and the dragon's teeth, and Proserpina, and Medusa. One was Tanglewood Tales
and the other was A Wonder Book.
It was years later before I figured out that Nathaniel Hawthorne had written them and a while longer before I figured out that he was also the person who wrote The Scarlet Letter.
When I read them, though, he was as anonymous to me as those series biographers. I was only interested in the stories and not the style, especially the stories of Cadmus and of Proserpina, for some reason. I know that for a long time experts in children's literature thought that the Hawthorne books were too preachy stylistically for children, but as a non-expert child, I didn't find them so.
So here is my question: I read a lot of other things, too, as did we all, and a lot of stuff I don't remember. Was there something in those stories, some literary quality that I didn't have any sense of perceiving at the time, that was making them memorable? Was it style?
What made a book memorable to you, and did it have an effect on how you developed as a reader?