"My Bookprint": The stories (and characters) that shape us

by Amanda Livingston, Corporate Communications Intern

Something I have always believed in is the books you read as a kid are instrumental in shaping who you are as an adult. Books and their stories help us learn. They teach us who to be and who not to be, help us ask important questions, show us worlds we might not be able to experience, and, of course, entertain us. 

The books I read and enjoyed when I was younger were ones I could relate to and ones that resonated with me—they had strong female protagonists who faced adversity and who grew into themselves despite the odds.

When I was younger (and even now), the books I liked the best had three-dimensional characters who learned about their place in the world while thinking outside of the box. They were different—they were smart, funny, sensitive, diligent, and real. Reading these characters’ stories as a young girl I learned more about myself and what type of person I aspired to be.

It is difficult to pick just a few books that have impacted me the most, but here are four:

The School Story by Andrew Clements

I read The School Story in the 2nd grade. It was the book that made me want to go into children’s book publishing and, essentially, it was the book that changed my life. A girl named Natalie writes a book about a school story and, with the help of her best friend Zee and using a secret identity, publishes a book unbeknownst to her mother – the editor. When I read this book as a 7-year-old, I knew that I wanted to be the person who helped make stories into books that people could read. I wanted to be a part of that process in whatever way I could.

The Wild Girls by Pat Murphy

This novel is about a girl named Joan who reluctantly makes the move from Connecticut to California with her parents. Joan finds a friend in a girl named Sarah who goes by the nickname “Fox” everywhere else except school. They write stories together in the woods and partake in a summer writing workshop taught by an established author. I appreciated how both characters sought the truth at whatever cost and chose to write and create their own stories in order to make the most out of their imperfect living situations. This book helped me explore the value in both storytelling and truth-telling. The novel also helped me explore the importance of female friendships.

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

A young girl embraces the notion to not care about what anyone else thinks, which is very hard to do as a kid. She wears long peasant dresses to school. She cheers for both teams at basketball games. She always asks questions no matter how uncomfortable the situation. Most importantly, she’s extremely empathetic. Stargirl meets a boy named Leo who just wants to fit in, and despite the fact that she is so different, her genuine nature dazzles him. Stargirl is a character whose characteristics I have always tried to emulate—a kind, open-minded, loving, and curious person.

Amelia’s Notebooks by Marissa Moss

Last but not least, we have Amelia’s Notebooks—a series of illustrated diaries told from the point of view of a middle school student.  In the book series, Amelia writes about her struggles with her family, making friends, school and growing up. I loved Amelia and her notebooks. She was extremely clever and smart – and always very funny. Amelia taught me that even if a situation isn’t perfect, you can – and should – make the most out of it. If anything, at least you’ll have a good story if something doesn’t work out as you had planned

Happy reading!