So at the Tucson Festival of Books, in at least a couple panels, discussions arose about what books influenced the authors. It was fun to hear what books children's book authors Grace Lin and Candace Fleming used to love. Grace Lin cited the Anne of Green Gables series on two separate occasions; she said she wished the books went on longer because Anne was so real. Candace Fleming loved "The Witch of Blackbird Pond" and "Island of the Blue Dolphins," but her favorite was "Misty of Chincoteague"--she even got a signed first edition with Misty's hoofprint (!) in it. She also reminisced about the old Scholastic Book Club days, when they used to have real quality books you could order. I think I remember those days. Now I feel old, but I DO remember most of the books they mentioned. (Then Louis Sachar went and had a grown-up answer that he didn't really enjoy reading until high school, when he got into J.D. Salinger and Kurt Vonnegut. Oh well. I liked "Wayside School" when I was a kid anyway.)
What about me? Three that influenced me:
The Little House Series: I think I've always been interested in other cultures/technology levels, and that series has it all over. Also a very light touch on the romance (I hated the very thought of romantic threads in books when I was a little girl!). I've read them a ridiculous number of times; I'm the type that likes to reread books. I'm pretty sure if I went back and read them with a more critical eye they might not be quite as good as I remembered. But then again, I re-read "The Long Winter" (my least favorite as a child, unless you count "The First Four Years") fairly recently, and it held up pretty well, I thought. Though, it's my understanding that kids today aren't at all interested in pioneers anymore. I've even heard it argued that due to the prevalence of electronics, they can't even find that world interesting anymore. I think that's sad.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Honestly, I think it would be a pretty unusual Christian fantasy writer who doesn't at least kind of like them, and I REALLY like them, still. I was fairly young, sleeping in a cousin's bedroom (I think) at my aunt and uncle's house, when I discovered "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." I stayed up late reading and was absolutely enchanted with the whole idea, though I'm not sure I picked up on the Christian allegory just then. I checked out all the rest of the books from the library and read them multiple times before we finally bought a boxed set for the family. I actually read "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" more critically before the movie came out, and it wasn't quite as good as I remembered...I think I found a typo or something, though given how many printings the book has had, that could've been the publisher's fault. If I recall correctly, I think the others have held up pretty well, though. I'm sure they gave me a push toward writing about other worlds.
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH: I think I actually read this one AFTER the cartoon Rescue Rangers came out, though I imagine I've always been interested in tiny parallel societies and the like. Anyway, it's a fascinating exciting story AND has little mice behaving like people. I adored it, even though the ending was bittersweet. (The movie adds a lot of magic that I didn't care for; I thought their world was interesting enough.)
Robert C. O'Brien also wrote "Z for Zachariah," which I believe is a YA novel, but awfully dark--in some ways even darker than "Hunger Games," I'd say (maybe not moreso than the sequels, which I haven't read). Not a bad book, but I'm really glad I didn't read it until I was an adult!