Reading to Kids
Over on the Pink Heart Society blog this weekend I wrote about the joy of reading to children. It's one of my favorite things to do -- and I miss having children around to read with on a regular basis.
I'm thinking, though, that with Skype becoming a regular part of my life these days, that the day isn't far off when I might get to read distant grandchildren a bedtime story via computer.
What will I read them? Several of our family favorites are over on the Pink Heart blog. But there really wasn't room there for everything. And there won't be here, either. But I promised to list a few more just in case anyone wants a good shopping list for kids' books this holiday season.
I'm leaving out the stuff on best seller lists now. You can all find those front and center at every bookstore you go into. The ones I'm talking about here might have been best sellers in their day -- or maybe there were just really good books to read and share. We loved them, anyway. I hope you do, too.
Frog and Toad were big hits at our house. All the books about Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel went through several paperback incarnations here because they got worn out from so many readings. Finally I went to hear Mr Lobel speak at a children's literature seminar and bought autographed copies of F&T -- one apiece for two of my children. He drew them each a Frog or a Toad inside with his inscription. What a Christmas treat that was.
I mentioned several Russell Hoban books on the Pink Heart. But I didn't mention How TOM Beat Captain NAJORK and his Hired Sportsmen. If you haven't read it, do. Tom is a terrific hero. Utterly competent in a completely do-it-my-own-way fashion. No wonder I love him -- he's the quintessential McAllister hero!
Hoban's The Little Brute Family and The Stone Doll of Sister Brute are fun reads, too.
We've worn out copies of Clyde and Wendy Watson's wonderful Father Fox's Pennyrhymes and John Burningham's Mr Gumpy's Outing. Both of them are a delight to read aloud, as is Wanda Gag's Millions of Cats which is older than I am, and the fabulous, rollicking A Roundabout Turn by Robert H Charles (the L Leslie Brooke illustrations are fantastic, too) which is older than my mother.
People who live where we live thoroughly enjoy curling up on cold winter nights and reading Virginia Burton's Katy and the Big Snow and Ezra Jack Keat's The Snowy Day. I suppose kids in warmer climes would like it for the novelty. We like it because we're warm when we read it and we know what it's like outside!
When we traveled we brought home kids' books from where we went. The favorite by far were the Ivor the Engine books that came home from Wales. We all become great fans of Ivor and his engine driver, Jones the Steam.
For older kids, you might track down the wonderful Ghost of Thomas Kempe by Penelope Lively, any of the many books of K M Peyton (I defy you to read Pennington's Last Term -- in UK, Pennington's Seventeenth Summer without cracking a smile). And if you have a horse-mad child on your list, Peyton can help there, too. Or you can go for the Black Stallion books or Misty of Chincoteague.
Want a little US history? Start them young with Jean Fritz's books. She's written quite a lot since we read And Then What Happened, Paul Revere? Now you can cover a lot more ground with Shh! We're Writing the Constitution and Why Don't You Get a Horse, Sam Adams? and others besides.
Move on to Newberry winner, Johnny Tremaine, and later classic My Brother Sam Is Dead. Or try to find books by Patricia Beatty (libraries may still have them -- and they definitely should) like How Many Miles to Sundown? and Who Comes to King's Mountain?
Want a little mystery, a little satire, a little sly humor? Try Buffalo Arthur or any of the other Arthur books by Alan Coren or try Sid Fleishman's McBroom stories.
Read Mark Twain's "The Literary Offenses of James Fennimore Cooper." To kids? Yes, to kids. My sixth grade teacher read it to our class and we were laughing so loud that the teacher next door had to come in and tell us to be quiet.
Want serious stuff? Read Katharine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia, Madeleine L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time, Gary Paulsen's Hachet. Immerse yourself and your listeners in Susan Cooper's Dark Is Rising series, the Narnia books of C S Lewis, or Philippa Pearce's Tom's Midnight Garden.
I could go on. And on. And on. I won't because the revisions still need to be finished.
But tell me some of your favorite books from your childhood. As I said on the Pink Heart, Gunnar is teaching Micah and Mitch how to pick winners (not always successfully as a lot of treats -- and a lot of slips of paper are getting eaten in the process), and they will be picking a winner on Monday from the commenters here and on the Pink Heart to get a copy of my new book, Antonides' Forbidden Wife. Be the first in your neighborhood . . .
Mitch and Micah, I fear, take bribes. So I'm not letting them read the comments.