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When I Was Young in the Mountains

4.24  ·  Rating Details ·  5,328 Ratings  ·  229 Reviews
For twenty years, Cynthia Rylant's story of childhood in the Appalachian Mountains has been an enduring favorite. Growing up in the mountains is depicted with a spare, lyrical text and beautiful, tender illustrations by Diane Goode. The book was awarded a Caldecott Honor Medal.

To celebrate its twentieth anniversary, When I Was Young in the Mountains is being released with
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published March 30th 1982 by Dutton Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 1982)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Cindy Benabderrahman
Apr 19, 2009 Cindy Benabderrahman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: girls who had grandpas who were coal miners, people who love west virginia
This book is for everybody, but especially for women who remember being little girls waiting on their grandpas to come home from the coal mines, dirty as all get out, “covered with the black dust.” Rylant takes us back with her to her grandparents’ house in Appalachia, where we can smell her grandmother’s corn bread, taste the fried okra, feel the muddy water of the swimming hole. We meet the old couple who looked alike and ran the general store. Diane Goode’s illustration of the store adds so m ...more
Jan 13, 2009 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: only those with mountain ancestors
This book is like remembering where I've never been; it is a warm, gentle and dreamy book that calls my name in ways I can't explain. Maybe because just a few generations ago, my ancestors were young in the mountains? The coal-oil lamp, the enamel coffee pot, the fried okra and hot corn bread, the johnny-house, bathing in the wash tub in front of the old black stove, were all part of my own real childhood. Thank goodness the snake-y swimming hole was not. But my grandma killed snakes with her ho ...more
Sweetly poetic, engaging, with even some humour thrown in for good measure (eating too much okra can lead to digestion issues and nighttime visits to the "johnny-house"), When I was Young in the Mountains shows the joys (but also hints at some of the struggles) Cynthia Rylant and her grandparents experience in the Appalachian Mountains of her childhood. The joys of simple country style living, of community, of visits to the enticing, albeit muddy swimming hole are glowingly and nostalgically pre ...more
Feb 23, 2009 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bean-books, picture
I've always labored under the impression that little kids will only appreciate a book if has bold colors, a catchy rhyme, and perhaps a furry animal or two. Which is why I'm surprised each time my daughter pulls this one off the bookshelf and hands it to me to read to her. The story, illustrations, everything about this book is lullaby-gentle, and yet it mesmerizes her in a way unlike many of the other "busy" picture books I've read to her. Proof, I guess, that Cynthia Rylant is a true storytell ...more
N_maryellen Rosenblum
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 18, 2016 Dolly rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
We've read so many of Cynthia Rylant's books; we've finished her various series and now we are on the hunt for individual books that we haven't yet read.

This is a sweet tale about her youth in the Appalachian Mountains. The narrative is poetic, simple and speaks to an idyllic time.

It reminds me of the wonderful memories of my own childhood and I am sure that time has likely softened the harsh edges of reality and that she has chosen to highlight the warmest of her memories.

Some of the anecdot
Apr 04, 2016 Wilmarie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story was awarded the 1983 Caldecott Honor Medal for its beautiful illustrations. This story is told by a girl, maybe eight or ten years old, who lives with her brother, grandfather, and grandmother in the Mountains. She gives specific details about her day to day routines living in the Mountains. She talks about her grandfather who, since he worked in a coal mine, was dirty except for his lips who he used to kiss their heads. She talked about supper time and having to go to the bathroom ou ...more
Sep 06, 2016 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: caldecott
We don't have coal mines anywhere in the neighborhood, nor do any of the local churches do baptism by dunking (not to my knowledge anyway), but we do have a small cabin in the mountains where we live a 'simple' life. We have oil lamps, but we use the electric lights. We too have an outhouse, but now most of us have reached the age that we enjoy the solitary walk under the stars while listening for the sounds of the wildlife.

We swim in a cold lake (not a muddy pond) and we shop in a small local m
Larry Thompson
This is a very sweet children's book that caught my eye today while shelving books, so I sat down and read it instead.
Linda Lipko
This 1983 Caldecott Honor book tells a simple story of a time when seemingly small things made a large impact on a child's life.

As a young woman, Rylant lived in the Appalachian mountains. This story is a tribute to those special years.

Grandfather arrived home with a blackened face from the coal dust of the mines.

Grandmother made hot corn bread.

At night, grandmother took the little child to the bathroom outside in the woods.

The days were spent swimming in the swimming hole, visiting the count
Rylant truly captures the warmth and love of this family living in the mountains. I loved reading the ways in which life in the mountains is different from my own. The kids bathed in a swimming hole and would fetch water from a well, grandma made cocoa over an old black stove, grandpa sharpened pencils with his knife and their family did most everything together. I could relate to the joy that being in the mountains brought this family. It reminds me of spending time at my granny's cottage. Just ...more
Brittany Quigley
gives examples of things children can do and how they can help
Sep 11, 2016 Giselle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
The Children are “in the mountains”, where they have a have a warm house they come to and they do many fun things in this little town or city. These children do not want to go anywhere else because they never get bored where they are at. I would recommend this book for other that want to go through several heartwarming adventures of “living in the mountains”.
This story goes through various fun places and events of when the time the author was a child, these wonderful experiences is a part in wh
Arinn Wall
This book, rather than telling a narrative, depicts warm, reminiscent scenes of the author's childhood in the mountains. Some of the scenes include: sharing her grandmother's southern cooking around the dinner table, hugging her grandfather when he comes home dirty from the mines, and witnessing her brother's baptism in the creek. The illustrations and sensory language created vivid imagery of the author's childhood. This book is very family oriented and has a strong sense of place at her grandp ...more
This is another Rylant book that I love! I love the warm and caring relationship that she has with her grandparents, a relationship I also shared with my grandparents as a young girl. (I didn't live with them ...well we did for about 18 months but the rest of my childhood we lived only about two miles away and spent every afternoon there after school while our parents worked). We lived in the desert, in a city, and so many of the things she experienced would have been foreign to me as a child. B ...more
Mishaela Littlefield
When I Was Young in the Mountains is a collection of short stories and events that were inspired by Cynthia Rylant's childhood while growing up in Appalachia. In the book, she occupies a snug log cabin with her kid brother, kind-hearted grandma, and hard-working grandpa. To pass the time, she dives into snake-infested swimming holes, attends church in the local schoolhouse and regularly visits the wishing well to fill silver pails with crystal clear water. As Rylant recalls these childhood memor ...more
Apr 14, 2016 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I Was Young in the Mountains is a great book for children. It is an easy read with a lot of pictures that relate to the text. The reader gets to see an inside look of what it was like from the author's point of view, to grow up with her grandparents in the mountains. Children would enjoy seeing this different type of lifestyles and imagining what it would be like. I would recommend this book to any young reader because there are no complex words and it is interesting to read about.
This boo
Charissa MacDonald
This story is about a woman who retold the memories she had with her grandparents, who lived in the mountains. She reminisced about the dinners they had, the time she had to take a trip to the outhouse at midnight, and trekking through the woods. Because her grandparents lived in a small town, the girl remembered the store clerks and remembered going to church in the old school house. Out of all the places in the world, the woman remembered that the only place she wanted to be was in the mountai ...more
Eileen Goedert
Jun 13, 2014 Eileen Goedert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cynthia Rylant helps young urban readers feel a kinship to an America they might not otherwise know. The young female narrator is being raised with her brother by her grandparents; perhaps her parents are working in the city for a time. What is important to the story is that the girl feels her grandparents’ love and loves them in return. The reader enjoys lyrical descriptions and illustrations of gentle smiles, bare feet, nightly kisses, steaming corn bread and even a painful trip to the outhous ...more
Nikki Horne
When I was Young in the Mountains is a fun autobiography for younger children. It is not your typical autobiography though. It is not about anyone who was famous or anything of the sort, but about a young girl who lived with her grandparents in the mountains. It tell's a story of how her childhood was simple and fun. It tell's about her experience playing in swimming holes and with dead snakes and of the goodies that her grandma made her.

I think this is an example of a good autobiography for yo
Mar 02, 2016 Grace rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“When I was Young in the Mountains” is a fantastic historical fiction book for younger elementary grades K-2. You can use this book in upper grades or have it in your library for them to read. This book uses very descriptive language and has repetitive phrases. The main character in the book describes her life as a young child and what it was like to grow up in the mountains. When she first introduces the story, she describes what it is like when her grandfather gets home from the coal mine in ...more
Scott Volz
Less a story than a series of recollections on growing up in rural Appalachia, When I Was Young in the Mountains is a gentle celebration of grandparents, simple pleasures, and childhood. The illustrations are rich in earth-tones and have a folksy, rustic quality to them. Also, the book's title acts as a refrain of sorts, and the repetition and rhythm of the work should appeal to youngsters.

Overall, it's an enjoyable book that might be especially appropriate around nap time.
Wow. Cynthia Rylant's first book. She has written quite a few of them, too. I knew from the first page that this book was based on not just a life in the mountains, but a life in the beautiful Applachians (aka WV). The book is based on the author's memories of her time spent with her grandparents in the mountains. It's a reminder of the old, nice, slow, easy-going ways of some of the mountain folks. If only all of it could be that idealistic still.
I really enjoyed this book by Cynthia Rylant! This is an autobiography that could be used as a read aloud in third grade. This autobiography is a Caldecott Honor book. This is a book about when the author was a child growing up in the mountains with her grandparents. It includes memories the author has about family dinners and playing outdoors with her brother. At the end of the story, the author notes how content she was growing up right where she was, and this theme of "no place like home" can ...more
May 05, 2016 Beverly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picturebooks
Cynthia Rylant's fictional memoir is simple and sweet, recalling all the reasons she loved living in the Appalachian mountains as a child. Apparently, they also lived very simply, without a lot of modern conveniences. Diane Goode's illustrations are simple and sweet as well, and each illustration ably depicts what is in the text, as well as a few details that are not mentioned. The people's faces are very expressive as well.
Cynthia Rylant is a wonderful author. She tells about living in the mountains without modern conveniences - about going to the outhouse & other scary things like snakes in the swimming hole. My mom lived her childhood in the mountains too, not Appalachia, but the western Rockies. She has few pleasant memories of her younger life. I like this book because of it's realism.
Cara Byrne
Jan 25, 2015 Cara Byrne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This brief picture book captures a young girl's memories of growing up in the mountains likely during the early twentieth century with her grandparents and brother. Descriptions of okra, her grandfather' coal-stained face and the Crawford's country store breathe life into the story, depicting Appalachia as a place of challenges from the natural world (like snakes) and devoutly religious families that care for each other. The harmony of the prose and the pastel-hued illustrations make this book a ...more
Oct 27, 2008 Carolynne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Erin
Shelves: picture-books
This book won Caldecott Honors for its illustrations by Diane Goode (of dubious renown for her Betsy high school books), but it is the luminous text by Cynthia Rylant that is outstanding. A poetic, nostalgic view of what it was like for the author to live with her grandparents in a coal mining region in the mountains of West Virginia.
Jun 15, 2012 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rebecca by: Robin
Sweet, gentle, and wholesome. Could work as an introduction to the Little House books.

"When I was young in the mountains,
I never wanted to go to the ocean, and I never
wanted to go to the desert. I never wanted
to go anywhere else in the world, for I was
in the mountains. And that was always enough."
Feb 02, 2016 Kathryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book. It had a relaxing, fee-good feel to it. I liked the illustrations, they were simple and old fashioned. I really liked how they showed the baptism in this book, because that depicts real life, and what is was like for that girl when she went to the mountains, and I feel like sometimes these days people are afraid to incorporate reality in books, especially children's books.

I would read this to my class. I think the baptism part could actually be awesome because if some childre
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An author of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for children and young adults as well as an author and author/illustrator of picture books for children, Cynthia Rylant is recognized as a gifted writer who has contributed memorably to several genres of juvenile literature. A prolific author who often bases her works on her own background, especially on her childhood in the West Virginia mountains, she ...more
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