The first time I ever read Jane Austen, I was in eighth grade. The book was Pride and Prejudice, and I utterly loved it.

It’s recently occurred to me that this was by no means my first encounter reading a book set a ways in the past…and this might have had something to do with my ability to understand (for the most part) and enjoy Austen.

I began reading the Oz books when I was in first grade.

When I was eight, I (and the rest of my friends) all started reading the Little House books.

Then, when I was nine or ten, I started on Louisa May Alcott.

Elementary school also introduced me to Caddie Woodlawn, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Anne of Green Gables, The Happy Orpheline (and Luvvy and the Girls), Half Magic, and Ballet Shoes.

By junior high, I had encountered The Story of Treasure Seekers and Cheaper By the Dozen.

And I wonder if that made all the difference?

Would I lack my current interest in history (and historical fiction) if I hadn’t read so many of these books when I was young?

What do you think?

What books set in earlier times (whether written then or now) did you read when you were a kid? Do you think they inspired a love of historical fiction in you?

All answers welcome!

Cara King, who wouldn’t mind hanging out in Oz for a while