Monday, June 29, 2009

A Child's Garden of Books - for Adults

“Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again?”
Winnie the Pooh

I was talking with a mother who had just recently begun homeschooling her four children and we began to chat about children’s literature and the books she had read with her children this past year. She confessed that she had never really read much as a child, and was now discovering, in a wonderful and surprising way, the books she had never known. Her favorites this year were Calico Bush by Rachel Field, The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare and Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes. All three titles are rich in history, well written and award winners in their day.

I read a lot as a child, but somehow missed many children’s classics myself, and so when I became a student teacher I, too, discovered some wonderful titles I had missed. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Charlotte’s Web are two books I was introduced to as I read aloud to a classroom of 2nd and 3rd graders. I remember barely being able to control my laughter as I recited a tale about a rather rotund bear’s “stoutness exercises” in Winnie the Pooh, and held my breath with the rest of the class as we went with Meg and Calvin to explore a tesseract in A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.

“I do face the facts, Meg said. They’re a lot easier to face than people, I can tell you that.”
A Wrinkle in Time

This discussion about children’s books had taken place in the presence of a number of other women, and soon everyone was talking about their favorite children’s book – either one they had read while growing up or discovered and appreciated as an adult.

Some that were mentioned include: Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls (a strong portrait of a small southern boy and his coon dogs – also a real tear-jerker) and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg (about two young children who run away from home, and wind up living in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York!).

What children’s books were dear to you as a child? As an adult? What are you going to read or are you reading to your children? Meg


dianne grinnell said...

I've been reading children's books for about 25 years as I didn't read or wasn't read to too much as a child. I savor the wisdom and beauty of children's books whatever my history.
Cynthia Rylant is my favorite children's author. I give Dog Heaven and Cat Heaven to people when they lose their pets.They comfort in a tender way. When I was Young in the Mountains and When the Relatives let me see what's good about family. Another beautiful one is A Chair for my
Mother helping me see the value of an earned gift.
Another very special author , to me , is Sharon Creech who has such insights into human beings and writes about this with a light but wise way. I especially value Granny Torelli's Soup and Love that Dog ( which my middle school students loved! )

Finally, I will always treasure and re-read Where the Red Fern Grows.

I will gladly read to my grandchildren the above plus while they're young Berenstein Bears ( so much fun---- but so mamy practical helps. ) Corduroy (Freeman) , Love You Forver (Munsch) , Goodnight Moon (Brown) ,The Polar Express Van Allsburg), and books by Jan Brett, Rosemary Wells, and Patricia Polacco.


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