My Side of the MountainJean Craighead George
I cannot even remember when I made the transition from "being read to" to becoming an "independent reader"; books were such an integral part of my childhood. I was a classic bookworm, shy and quiet, and loved to enter the fantasy world of books. One book I particularly liked and re-read several times (including as an adult to my own children) was My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. I remember that I read this book the first time through in one weekend, an indulgence my parents tolerated on weekends because I would not stop to sleep until it was finished.
I grew up near the setting for the book, and we had woods right behind my home that I was allowed to wander in on my own (as long as I took the family dog, Rusty, along). The notion of living independently in the woods was absolutely fascinating to me. I knew the edible foods in the woods and there were some hollowed-out trees in "my woods" but none quite big enough to live in. I had acquired some Girl Scout knowledge of survivor lore and imagined I had the skills to do what the character, Sam Gribley, did. But, I loved my family, who tolerated and encouraged my passion for reading, my mom was a great cook and I didn't want to miss her meals, and I was very afraid of the dark, so I did not disappear into the woods for more than an afternoon at a time.