What books made you cry when you read them? For my oldest son, I think the first book that made him cry was the story of Ivan, a gorilla kept in a cage at a mall. In this book, it was the death – and treatment after death – of Ivan’s one friend that brought my son to tears.
My oldest often has a little trouble expressing his emotions, especially when he’s upset. But when characters he loves die, he really feels this deeply. I remember when he was watching the old school Transformers and he got to the part when Optimus Prime died. My husband and I were outside doing yard work when we heard him screaming and crying. He rushed outside, tears streaming down his face, telling us Optimus was dead. It was a horrible, beautiful moment. When I was his age, I specifically remembering crying my eyeballs out thanks to two books about the death of animals, specifically dogs.
The first is Sasha, My Friend. This book is so old it’s no longer being printed so you’ll have to get your hands on a used copy. But it’s a wonderful book and I cried for good reasons.
The second book I can specifically remember crying while reading was A Dog Called Kitty. Both this story and Sasha, My Friend involve the main character building a friendship and then losing the friend. I know that’s kind of a spoiler, but I already told you these books made me cry, so you can’t be too surprised.
Right now I’m reading a biography of Barack Obama to my youngest who is in Kindergarten. It’s his choice of book, I didn’t tell him what to read. His older brothers devour chapter books so he wants to read them to and he picked this one. We just finished the part where Barack visits his father’s grave in Kenya and cries. I noticed my son wiping his eyes and looking away. He felt so deeply for Barack he couldn’t help himself from crying. I think this is quite possibly the first time my youngest cried during a book.
As you know, I’m writing books for children (and adults who like to read children’s books). Some of the best advice I received about telling a good story is to work hard to make readers burst into laughter as well as to tears.
Most of the adult books I read today explore the horrible things happening in the world, but I really believe the books that made you cry as a child explored the simplest emotions of love, friendship, loneliness and loss. I can’t think of a book for adults I’ve read that’s made me cry as hard as Sasha and Kitty tore my heart apart. But I do remember losing it during the movies District 9 and Hero. I’m not sure Hero counts though, because I was pregnant at the time and full of hormones.
I have a book planned out in which the main character, someone I hope readers will not like very much at the beginning then grow to love, dies. This sounds horrible, but I hope some readers will cry when as they read my (future) book. It’s not being mean, it’s a hope that I can someday write a character so real, so meaningful, so worth caring for and loving, that I touch readers in their heart.
What books made you cry, as a child or adult reader?