It Takes a Library: The Literary Characters That Raised Us

Prepare your heart to be warmed, and meet the literary characters that raised the Bookstr team!

Book Culture Bookish Lifestyle

While some readers find their passion for books later in life, many have been drawn to worlds of parchment and ink since their early childhoods. Books have always offered respite, support, inspiration, and comfort to those who need it most, and oftentimes, those are children. Book characters bring stories to life and can feel alive themselves. In this way, they can become friends, parental figures, and family to readers young and old.

The amazing team at Bookstr shared the characters that “raised them” for your perusal. Read on to hear about these readers’ heartwarming bonds with characters from their childhoods. This topic was inspired by a beautiful illustration made by the wonderfully talented Laura Trinder.

Illustration by Laura Trinder with a girl reading a book in a chair surrounded by book characters with the text, "It takes a library to raise a child."
IMAGE VIA LAURA TRINDER

Annabeth Chase, Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan

I know I’m definitely not the first or last to say this, but Annabeth was MY character when I was little. I was a ruthless, mean, and smart little girl, who was also fiercely protective of her friends. I was also blonde and a lot of people projected that “dumb blonde” stereotype on me, so it was really cool to have a character that was similar to me but got to go on really cool adventures and actually be known for being smart. I grew up while she was also growing up, and seeing her progress and save the world while also focusing on love and friendship and herself was so inspiring!

Elizabeth Beaver, Editorial

Cover of PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTNING THIEF
IMAGE VIA BOOKSHOP.ORG

Li, The Last Girl On Earth by Alexandra Blogier

When I was little, I hated reading for a class, influenced by peers who viewed reading negatively. However, I came across the book called The Last Girl On Earth. It was the first book that sparked my love for reading. The character Li resonated deeply with me–her ruthlessness, intelligence, and determination to protect her father from aliens parallels my own drive and personality. She didn’t have any similar features to me, but her perseverance as an outcast trying to fit in mirrored my own journey. Li’s story continues to inspire me, reminding me to embrace who I am.

Alysea O’Brien, Editorial

Cover of THE LAST GIRL ON EARTH
IMAGE VIA AMAZON

Rose, Rose Madder by Stephen King

Content Warning: This entry discusses topics that may be triggering to certain readers. Proceed with caution.

I know what you’re thinking: Stephen King for a CHILD?! Well, I’d been reading him since I was eight when times were good. Along the way, I fell into one of those childhoods with abusive molesting step-fathers, the kind of story we’ve all heard many times. During the remainder of my childhood, I had to keep my forbidden books under the floorboards in the laundry room. There was only enough room in that crevice for 3 or 4 books, most of which were rotated out from the library.

Rose Madder, though, always stuck around. Rose, the main protagonist, is a woman trapped in an incredibly abusive and graphic relationship with a cop (and later detective) – for 17 years. She experienced all the psychological stages we adults would expect. But one day she “wakes up” and has had enough. While he was at work, she grabbed his ATM card (no internet back then, guys!) off the mantelpiece and walked right out the door, with nothing but the clothes she was wearing and the purse that was empty except for her ID and the ATM card. On foot, she escapes to the bus depot and buys a ticket to somewhere halfway across the country, withdraws 250 dollars, and throws away the ATM card….

Cover of ROSE MADDER

From there, the rest of the story takes place, but that act from the beginning helped make me who I am today — might even be the reason I am alive today! On my 17th birthday, I did the very same thing. I walked right out the door, with nothing but the clothes I was wearing and a backpack that was empty except for my ID and one very important book.

Erin Dzielski, Editorial

Tinker Bell, Peter and Wendy by J. M. Barrie and Tales from Pixie Hollow by Kiki Thorpe, et al.

I’ve never actually read Peter Pan, or the Disney Fairies books, but I absolutely adore Tinker Bell. Anyone who grew up in the early 2000s knows she was everywhere — alongside Betty Boop accessories, and Lovely White, Pink Hana stationary — so it’s no wonder she’s become my whole identity as an adult. Growing up, I remember seeing the Tales from Pixie Hollow illustrations — that I now know were by Judith Holmes Clarke — and being taken by them. Then, when Tinker Bell was given a voice for the first time in her own movie, and it was none other than Katara from Avatar: The Last Airbender? It was a moment. 

So, why do I love Tinker Bell, other than because of Mae Whitman? She’s cute, she’s spunky, and she’s allowed to be moody. She’s not a cookie-cutter role model. Tinker Bell is hotheaded and clumsy, and it’s not always charming — which is exactly her charm. She’s flawed, and I think that’s lovely for young audiences to see. 

Gabriela Collazo, Editorial

 Photo of Tinker Bell
IMAGE VIA DISNEY

Hermione Granger, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Growing up, miss know-it-all is all I ever wanted to be. Reading about an eighteen-year-old as a thirteen-year-old, there were certain aspects of Hemione’s character that were beyond my comprehension. There is an element of maturity that Hermione acquired earlier than she should have. Given the circumstances, she was forced to choose between family and friends. This was an unimaginable choice, raising sympathy among readers for the character. 

Throughout the series, I feel Hermione’s character was the strongest in the final book (and movie) and that was a result of visible growth. I feel connected to her character more than anything as with every book, I grew in age with her. And in this journey, it is inevitable to not associate your childhood with a character like her. Hermione Granger, as a character, raised me to be a confident, young woman, and is someone I can relate to even now.

Vidhi Bhanushali, Editorial

IMAGE VIA WARNER BROS.

Lucy Pevensie, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

When I first read this book series, I related the most to Lucy.  I am also the youngest in my family and I often felt overlooked growing up.  Reading about a young girl who was kind and had a big heart who also found the wardrobe that would change her and her siblings’ lives forever, had a positive impact on me.  In the beginning, her siblings did not listen to her because they thought she made it up, but she proved them wrong and they learned to listen to her.  By going on these adventures with Lucy and her siblings, I learned more about myself and who I want to be.  Lucy helped raise me to be true to myself, kind, and helpful.  Lucy impacted me in a positive way because of how I got to learn along with her how to be a kind and loyal person.

Molly Ireland, Outreach

Photo of a young Lucy Pevensie
IMAGE VIA NETFLIX

Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and the Weasleys, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

When Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone released, I was the same age as Harry, Hermione, and Ron. When it concluded, I was a year out of high school and a newlywed for a month. This series got me through many rough patches throughout middle school and high school. It also brought me closer to unlikely friends as we obsessed over it. The adventures, life lessons, and journeys each character went through, no matter their significance to the story impacted me. They have continued to impact me into adulthood and raising four children. I’m still learning from these books and growing as a person, the perspective just changes a bit with age. 

Kristi Eskew, Editorial

Photo of Hermione, Harry, and Ron walking in front of Hogwarts in THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN
IMAGE VIA WARNER BROS.

The Cast of the Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

This one really made me travel back in time in my mind. And when I thought about it, there were so many characters I could choose from, but only one cast of characters truly helped make me who I am today and impacted me in such a big way. The cast of Harry Potter wasn’t one I knew I needed at the time. They came when I wasn’t even looking for anything. I was in the 6th or 7th grade, and there was controversy surrounding the first HP book, and at the time, I didn’t even know about this book. It wasn’t until I watched the first movie that my world changed, and I was hooked. I was even more confused about the book ending up on a banned list, and all I wanted to do was read it.

Luckily, I have the mom that I have, and she’s all about us reading and deciding these things for ourselves. Magic, dragons, witchcraft — she knew about it, and she BOUGHT the books for us! I read the first one, and I couldn’t stop there. The impact was instant. HP opened up a new world of fantasy for me. I’ve always loved fantasy books, but this series brought me out of my shell and into the magical world surrounded by true friendships, life lessons, and understanding good and evil in a way that explained the real world in which we live. I’m so grateful to have come across the HP series because they still impact me, my writing, and my thinking to this day.

Quiarah B/Vphan, Editoral

Photo of Hermione Granger, Harry Potter, and Ron Weasley
IMAGE VIA WARNER BROS.

Keladry, First Test by Tamora Pierce

Keladry is a young female heroine dubbed “Protector of the Small” in Pierce’s Tortallan world – a fantasy world crafted by Pierce in the 1950s. In the first book of the series, it’s made abundantly clear that Kel will not stand for injustices against those who cannot defend or better themselves. Honestly, all of Pierce’s heroines are strong-willed, fierce women in coming-of-age tales, and I loved them all (Trickster’s Choice and Terrier also feature favorite childhood heroines of mine). The ongoing advocacy for the impoverished and destitute in these novels opened my young eyes to the nuances of being human. 

Arianna Fuhrman, Editorial

Cover of FIRST TEST
IMAGE VIA BOOKSHOP.ORG

And because I can’t resist gushing about my favorite characters, here’s a bonus entry from your doting writer. If you take a moment to imagine a bookish little girl, that would be me. My father is an English teacher, and books were (and are) the binding force of our family. We haunted indie bookstores and visited public libraries every weekend, coming home with stacks almost taller than me which we would then read together each night. I was an anxious, quiet child with an untamable curiosity for the world around me, but mostly, for the worlds I dreamed up in my head.

So, plenty of characters had a hand in raising me. The wise sages that are Albus Dumbledore and Gandalf felt like grandfathers to me, ones I would return to on-page or on-screen in times when I needed comfort. Clever girl characters like Hermione Granger, Jo March, and Matilda Wormwood held up a mirror to me and told me it was okay to have my nose in a book and be headstrong and smarter than the boys at school. And there were myriad princesses and hobbits and fairies who inspired me to be my own hero, no matter how small or feminine I was.

Photo of the on-screen Matilda
IMAGE VIA NETLFIX

Here at Bookstr, we celebrate and find comfort in books, and we’ll proudly shout from rooftops characters are our friends and our family. Thank you to everyone on the team who shared some precious insight into their childhoods and imaginations. Which literary characters “raised you?”


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