This week we are exploring Octavia E. Butler’s childhood and some great science fiction books for children, as we continue to celebrate her birthday and the first anniversary of the Octavia Lab.
Octavia Estelle Butler was born on June 22, 1947, in Pasadena, California. Her father passed away when she was a baby, and she was raised by her mother and grandmother. As a child, she had a difficult time connecting with other children and preferred the company of adults and books. She remembers beginning to tell herself stories when she was four years old.
In an interview, Butler said,
“I discovered the library back in kindergarten, I guess. We didn't have a library at the school, but we were not that far from the main city library in Pasadena. The teachers would have us join hands and walk down to the library together. There we would sit, and someone would tell us—or read us—a story. Someone would also talk to us about how to use the library. When I was six and was finally given books to read in school, I found them incredibly dull; they were Dick and Jane books. I asked my mother for a library card. I remember the surprised look on her face. She looked surprised and happy. She immediately took me to the library. She had been taking me home, but now she immediately took me to the library and got me a card. From then on the library was my second home.”
As a child, Octavia enjoyed fairy tales and books about horses. It wasn’t long before she was ready to move on from the children’s section to more advanced books. Unfortunately, children were not allowed in the adult section of the library at that time. However, children were allowed to browse the magazine section, which is where she discovered science fiction. By age 12, she was writing her own science fiction stories and not too long after she began submitting her work to magazines.
Octavia was inspired by the time she spent at the library as a child, and her love of reading and learning continued throughout her entire life. Below is a list of science fiction that will hopefully inspire children to dream of other worlds and ask what if?