Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Best Children's Books

I always read (past tense) to my children, who are now adults. Will and I were even finishing up the Wizard of Oz series when he was 12 or so. And I always expected my children to read. The two kids had their own library card from since they were about 5. In the years of reading bedtime stories to them, several favorites rose to the top of the “read again” list. Which got me thinking about our absolute favorites. The books listed here aren't necessarily the “best” children's books, because, really what does “best” mean anyway? That's the beauty of books—if one doesn't resonate, there's another one waiting on the bookshelf. But these are the books my kids asked me to read over and over.

When I remarried, and “inherited” a young reader, I was pleased that I had these, and hundreds of other, books that my youngest step-daughter could discover. And once my two biological children set up their own households, I will be equally pleased to help them populate their personal libraries with the iconic books of their childhoods.

So here, in no particular order, are the Top 10 Books in the childhoods of @Georgia Keene and @William Keene.

1. Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown. Such a simply told, soft, bedtime story. Besides, anyone who can romanticize “a bowl full of mush” is an all right writer in my book.
2. Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak. A naughty boy is sent to his room without his supper, and summons up a wild imaginarium of all sorts of creatures, creatures he can command, until his dinner shows up after all. Let the wild rumpus begin!
3. Stellaluna, by Janell Cannon. A baby bat gets lost and lands in a nest of birds, until she finds her way back home. The illustrations of how each species adapts the other's habits—baby birds hanging upside-down from the outside of the nest—are priceless. A wonderful story of maternal love.
4. The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and just about any other story written by Beatrix Potter. Young Peter is so handsome in his blue-velvet vest, yet he can be oh, so naughty.
5. Strega Nona, by Tomie DePaola. A truly wonderful story of what happens when you don't follow the rules. Big Anthony gets his fill of pasta, that's for sure!
6. The Amelia Bedelia series, by Peggy Parish. So well-meaning in her manner, but Amelia Bedelia takes every request literally, with results that make any 6-year-old giggle.
7. Similarly, Bernard Wiseman's Morris the Moose, another silly character, wonderfully drawn, who just can't figure out why, when he has one head, his buddy Boris the Bear asks to check a fever on his forehead.
8. Curious George by Margret and H.A. Rey. These books are rather politically incorrect by today's standards, but what child can't relate to wanting to test out every item he or she was told not to. George just can't help himself!
9. Frog and Toad, by Arnold Lobel. Like the Morris the Moose books, these stories of best friends were written especially for first readers. And their adventures are pretty special too.
10. And, finally, anything by Dr. Seuss. Who can resist The Cat in the Hat; Green Eggs and Ham; One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish or If I Ran the Zoo? There is such depth to the poetry of Seuss, and children always respond to the lyrical nature of the writing. And you gotta love Thing 1 and Thing 2!

1 comment:

  1. I LOVED the Frog and Toad series! One of my faves: The Story of Ferdinand, a book about a young bull who did not want to fight but instead wanted to sit in the shade of a cork tree and smell the flowers. I still have my very tattered (well-loved) copy!