Childrens Books

You might say this post has nothing to do with history. And you could be right. Or not.

Over the past few years, the number of people I know with infants and toddlers has increased drastically. Some of the babies I knew are now toddlers, or even Going To School, and all enthusiastic about reading. It has me thinking back to my favourite books to read, or listen to, both as a kid and as a teenager working in the picture book section of my local bookstore.

Awesome books for kids (and grownups), according to me:

  • The Do-Something Day, by Joe Lasker.  It has the repetition that toddlers like, without being too overwhelming for an adult. Also good because everyone, adult or child, has had a “do-something day” where no-one else seemed to cooperate.
  • Ox-cart Man, by Donald Hall, illustrations by Barbara Cooney. I liked this book anyway, but I can still remember hearing it on Reading Rainbow. Add in Barbara Cooney, who’s also given us such wonders as Miss Rumphius, Roxaboxen, and Eleanor,  and it’s a definite keeper.
  • A Visit to William Blake’s Inn, by Nancy Willard, illustrations by Alice and Martin Provensen. Wonderful, whimsical poems, and gorgeous illustrations. One of the first poems I ever memorized was from this book. I think I now know about a third of the poems by heart, and have a hardback copy because the original paperback, purchased by my dad as a gift for me in 1986, is in “well loved” condition.
  • Rootabaga Stories and Rootabaga Pigeons, by Carl Sandburg.  I didn’t actually read these until I was an adult. When I was a child, my family spent two weeks ever summer near Sandburg’s home, Connemara, which belongs to the National Parks Service. At the time, they sold audio cassettes with Carl Sandburg himself reading the stories. I listened to them every night as a kid, and when I read these stories now I still hear Sandburg’s intonation and rhythm, “softer than an eyewink, softer than a Nebraska baby’s thumb.”
  • Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown. Yes, Goodnight Moon is wonderful, but I like Runaway Bunny better. It comforts a child with the idea that Momma will always be there, no matter where you go. When I was a teenager, I was surprised to hear it echoed the ballad The Twa Magicians.
  • Pink and Say, by Patricia Polacco. This is one of the books I discovered as a teenager. It’s about two boys in the American Civil War, one black and one white. I cry every time I read it and I’m so very glad I found it.

I have so many more books, both on my shelves and that I know to be good, but I’m going to stop here. Feel free to add your favourites in the comments.

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2 comments

  1. Janice Dean · · Reply

    I volunteered for a couple summers in middle school at the library of the nearby elementary school. I took forever to shelve books because I read at least half of them before putting them away. I love children’s books! Where to start? I purchased a board book of “Each Peach Pear Plum” for me niece last year, but her parents didn’t seem enthused about reading through the tongue-twisting poems. This disappointed me greatly because I LOVED it when my parents read me rhyming, tongue-twisting books as a kid. Apparently my favorite was a copy with the full “Jack Sprat” poem that I asked my parents to read so many times per day that they could recite the entire thing upon request! Great post! Thanks!

  2. Thanks for alerting me to titles I didn’t yet know; I’ll get my hands on a copy to read with my nephews.

    I love Margaret Wise Brown’s books, including both Goodnight Moon and the Runaway Bunny. I have fond memories of my mom reading my the Runaway Bunny, and I’ve enjoyed reading it to my elder nephew.

    I don’t think I’ve yet read Pink and Say, which is remarkable, given that I LOVE Patricia Polacco, and have read/own most of her books. I’ll check it out.

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