Now, I don’t know about you guys but my love for reading began as a child. My parents taught me to read at a very young age. I don’t know whether this was brilliance on my part or persistance on their part, but I was reading, and fairly well, pretty young. And this was not something that was forced on me, in a completely unenjoyable manner. I LOVED to read. I soaked up books like a sponge.
I remember getting in trouble in first grade because I had more than five books written on my weekly reading list, and that’s because I had genuinely read them all. I was always a victim of skepticism from my teachers until they realized, “Oh, she really does read that much!”
I mean, I was reading for so long, and so much, I remember when reading was infinitely uncool. Reading is cool now. Everyone reads and I do believe that’s largely in part to the huge young adult literature explosion, but I’ve already dicussed that in previous blogs. But reading wasn’t cool when I was younger and I was teased a lot…which only caused me to read more! I loved escaping into different worlds and dicovering new things. Books are amazing.
And some of the books I’ll never ever forget are the books that I read as a child.
So this brings me to this week’s Top Ten…my favorite children’s books. I will warn you ahead of time: Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Chronicles of Narnia, etc…they are NOT on this list. Most would agree these ARE children’s books. I prefer to think of them as middle grade books…and also this is a list of strictly children’s books, books we think of reading as a child.
I know this book is incredibly before my time, being published in 1958, but it is a book I remember VERY well from my own childhood. There’s something so delightfully charming about this little bear, in his little getup and suitcase, talking about his voyage from Darkest Peru, and his love of marmalade. I remember wanting to try marmalade because Paddington loved it so much and to this day, I still find it horribly disgusting. But maybe that’s because I’m not a bear, and it just doesn’t seem to work for non bears ;) Anyway, this remains one of my favorite children’s books and I am constantly searching for an old copy of it, not a new one, but an old one from 1958. Paddington Bear…oh he’s so cute.
I remember this story because of my mom. I’m pretty sure my mom read this as a child, and therefore found the book and introduced it to her own children. This book is old as well, 1939, even older than Paddington Bear. I really like the illustrations in this book and I liked the way it was solved in the end. Poor Mary Anne and Mike are losing out their jobs to the newer, fancier shovels until one day they offer to dig the cellar for the new town hall in just one day! What an impossible goal! Well, they promise to do so and they do it! I love the pictures that shows Mary Anne digging that dirt up and beating all the odds. Then, oops, Mary Anne is stuck! They forgot to build a ramp to get her out and she’s stuck…until one clever little boy suggests that she stay there, and become the boiler for the new city hall, thus giving her a job for life! Its sweet and a lovely book.
This book, now that I’ve looked it up, is from 1968. Apparently I really, really like books from way before I was born. 1968…20 years before I was even born. But its another book that I remember very fondly and another one that I’ll never forget. One of things I think of when I think of this book is the movie…I vaguely remember watching it in kindergarten and for some reason Corduroy was riding a skateboard? I don’t know, silly memories, I suppose. Either way, another super cute story. Poor Corduroy is living in the department store, waiting for someone to buy him. He’s almost bought by a little girl but he’s missing a button on his little overalls and is therefore “broken”. Corduroy goes on an adventure into the department store, looking for his button. Eventually he’s brought back to his shelf…and the little girl comes back for him, buys him and fixes his button, and brings him home, where she has a little bear sized bed for him. I still can’t look at stuffed animals on a shelf without thinking of this book. I want to hug them all and tell them that someone will come to love them soon. Cheeeesy.
Yes, 1989! Finally, one from a year where I was actually alive…I was a year old. I LOOOOVE this book. What a fantastic way to teach children their ABCs. Its fun and original and repetitive, which is good for a teaching book for children that young. Children learn at that age when things are repeated to them, over and over again, and this book is perfect for that. The pictures are simple and bright and the tempo of the book is almost like a song or a chant, “chicka chicka boom boom, will there be enough room?” One of my favorite parts of this book, that I still remember from it, is the little letters with bandages and bruises from falling out of the tree. I am so giving this book to my children when I’m a mom.
I’m pretty sure there isn’t a kid out there that doesn’t completely love this book, or remember it from when they were a child. And apparently its a lot older than I thought as well, 1963! Wow, a lot of these books are kind of old…I mean, compared to when I read them. Anyway, you have Max, trouble maker Max, sent to his room without dinner because of all the trouble making he’s been causing. Then Max sails away, all the way to the land of the Wild Things, where he becomes king and spends days partying and eating and dancing and playing with them. Then, after he becomes homesick, he sails home where his dinner is waiting for him, still piping hot. Its a wonderful book and its such a beautiful representation of a child’s imagination. When children are left to their own devices, they have some of the most wonderful stories and ideas, their imaginations are so great. Sometimes I really wish I had the imagination I had when I was little. But then I remember that Maurice Sendak came up with these brilliant book and we all have a little bit of that imagination still in us.
I LOVE THIS BOOK. I love it, I love it, I love it. Written in 1964, and possibly the most brilliant story that Shel Silverstein has ever written. Another one of those children’s books that I’m sure every child remembers reading. The beautiful story of a tree and his boy, and how the tree gives up everything for the boy; his apples, his leaves, his branches, even his trunk, everything to help the boy have a good life as he grows older. In the end, the boy comes back to the tree, when the tree has nothing else, is nothing but a trunk, nothing left to give. But the old man just needs somewhere to rest for awhile and the tree and the boy sit together, friends. Its such a beautiful and touching story. Its a book that I’ll never forget. My best friend has a tattoo on her back, a scene of the boy and tree playing hide and seek, and for good reason. Its a lovely book and children love it, and I sitll continue to love it.
I adore Winnie the Pooh. I adore the books and I adore the Disney adaptation of it. Winnie the Pooh is a bear of little brain, with his friend Christopher Robin, and other stuffed animal friends, like Piglet, Eeyore and Tigger, have adventures in the 100 Acre Wood. These stories were written back in 1926 but they don’t get old in the slightest, they are timeless. They show a little bear, being absolutely silly and having fun adventures and playing childhood games, but they’re also stories of friendship and love and family and growing up. Some of my favorite quotes about love and friendship have come from these books, from the stories of A.A. Milne. And its very much the kind of precursor to what children know of Toy Story today. We all picture our toys as real, as coming to life. Christopher Robin, A.A. Milne’s son, got to see his own favorite toys come to life and have beautiful and fun stories. And now, nearly 100 years later, these stories are still read by children all over the world.
Another Shel Silverstein darling written in 1974. This book is simple enjoyment, cute and funny and silly and some downright ridiculous poems. I love these poems. I’m not a big poetry fan, sometimes I just have an issue reading things that just don’t tell me what they’re trying to say. Which isn’t to say that I don’t like poetry. I love me some Emily Dickinson because she was a serious badass. But I’d rather just not read poetry…except for these poems. I seriously never get tired of reading these. There’s one particular poem called “For Sale”, about someone trying very, VERY hard to sell their little sister. As an older sister to two sisters and three brothers, I can imagine many days where I wish I could stand out front with a sign, trying to sell my siblings. Its just super hilarious. Shel has a way of teaching rhyming and rhythm and even just the styles of poetry to children but without making it complicated. Its poetry with fun.
We will not speak of the terrible animated movie, and the fact that there’s a sequel coming to theaters as well. It doesn’t do justice to one of my absolute favorite children’s books of all time. Whew. Okay, got that out of the way. Written in 1978, it tells the story of a town where there is no need for grocery stores, or cooks or anything like that because food is delivered to the people via the weather. It snows pancakes and rains maple syrup. It pours orange juice and hails ice cream. The fog is pea soup and on and on. Its wonderful. Wouldn’t it be kind of cool to go outside, hold out your plate and have food rain down? Of course, it doesn’t really work that way, now does it? The elements have a mind of their own and soon the food that is raining down on the people is becoming a menace, and becoming dangerous. The people build little boats made out of large stale bread and sail away, in hopes that they can find a better civilization where you won’t get squished by a large pancake. I loved this book and I continue to love this book. The illustrations, the story, the whole imagination of it, its a great book.
Written in 1960, this is my favorite book for two reasons: one, because I used to know this book entirely my heart. I mean, seriously, by heart. I could recite this without even looking at the book. One time, my mom got my siblings and I together to recite it together right in front of a boy I liked…that wasn’t at all embarrassing in the slightest. But another reason I like it is because Dr. Seuss was a genius. His books are remembered because of their rhyme and their silliness and their ability to teach kids how to read. Dr. Seuss took all these words that were being in taught to children in such boring books and made it fun. He did what other authors had failed to do. He took a list of the simple words that were being used in these boring books (fox, box, house, mouse) and made it fun. He used the same technique of repetition, because repeating things does help to remember it, but he made it fun! And sometimes, when you really pay attention to some of the things that are being said amongst the nonsense, you get some pretty wise words.
So those are my favorite children’s books…apparently all from before I was born except for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom haha. Apparently there’s a reason these are some of my favorites, because no matter how old they are, they are lasting, and they hold on to children’s attentions today as they did twenty years ago, forty years ago, sixty years ago.
What are some of your favorite children’s books? As always, comment below!
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