Thursday, January 17, 2008

Kid's Books That Have Made A Difference To Me

Due to overwhelming demand from my blog readers...OK, one person and she is my daughter...but I'm sure the rest of you would make a comment demanding this information if you only had time to make a comment. Anyway, after the post about books that have made a difference to me, she asked for one about kid's book that have made a difference to me.

Since I am an elementary school library media specialist, I spend a lot of time with kids and books. And love it. Interspersed with my piles of books for grown-ups are the kids books that I am busily reading so I can keep ahead of their reading and be ready when they ask me for a book just like Harry Potter. Only not so long. Or so hard. Do I have one that is about 100 pages long?

Like the grown-up books I read, there are the good ones and the bad ones and a whole big bunch of mediocre ones. There seems to be even more mediocre kids books than grown-up books. But we won't worry about those. Let's talk about my favorites.

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (the whole series), by C.S. Lewis

These are my favorite kids books. My absolute favorite. I have read them dozens of times, read them to my children and have read them to my students. You would think these would be a childhood favorite, but in reality, I didn't know about them or read them until I took a children's literature class in college. I loved them so much that I chose to talk about them to my college class as part of an assignment and got embarrassingly choked up as I told about them. They are that good. Since the movie came out, they have become more popular with my students and I love that. The whole idea of another world existing so close to our own is so magical and fabulous, it gives me goosebumps.

Gone-Away Lake (and Return to Gone-Away), by Elizabeth Enright

I just checked Amazon to make sure these were still in print and, thankfully, they are. These are books that I read when I was young and I adore them. Gone-Away lake is a place, actually a swamp, where there used to be a lake and vacationers had beautiful, huge, summer homes which have fallen into disrepair. The place is discovered by a group of kids and they take it over, creating clubhouses in the old homes and making friends with an old couple who still live there. Although it is not fantasy, it seems fantastic that they create their own world and the adults in their lives allow them that freedom.

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle (and the others in the series)

Perhaps you can tell from the name I chose for my blog identity that this is one of my very favorites. The story of the kids who must travel though space and time to rescue their father, exhibiting courage and their love for each other, is timeless and very special.

Lad, A Dog, by Albert Payson Terhune (and others by him)

I also checked on this one to make sure it was still in print since it, too, is very old and was a childhood favorite. I loved all the books by Terhune and the world he created in the Limberlost with his beloved, beautiful dogs was so real to me, I wanted to live there.

Big Red, by Jim Kjelgaard (and others by him)

Until I started making this list, I had forgotten how much I loved dog stories when I was a kid. For years after reading all of Kjelgaard's books, I desperately wanted an Irish Setter.

Seven Day Magic, Edward Eager (and others by him)

I love stories about the possibility of magic actually happening. In this one, some kids check out a library book and find out it has magic powers and can take them wherever they want. The Magic Treehouse books author copped the same idea, but this one is a hundred times better. I also loved Half Magic. They got half of what they wished for. Think about it. It created some real problems.

The Borrowers, by Mary Norton (and others in the series)

I love the whole idea that little, tiny people are living in your house and borrowing whatever they need in order to survive. A postage stamp can be a picture on the wall for them. How cool is that?

Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen

Next to fantasy books, my favorite genre is survival stories. In this one, a young boy is stranded in the wilderness after a small plane crashes and he must survive alone with only his wits and a small hatchet. Readers loved this book so much that Gary Paulsen wrote several sequels and even an alternate ending one.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo

This is probably the newest book on my list and I'm not sure what that says about a hip librarian, except that some of the older books are better than a whole lot of the new ones coming out. This story about Edward, a china rabbit, and his journey back to the one who loves him best is one of the best books I have read in a long time.

I could go on and on for page after page after page. The fantasy books by Susan Cooper. The humorous family adventures of Beverly Cleary. The Black Stallion books. The Indian in the Cupboard books. So many. So many, many wonderful books.

It will take a lifetime to read and reread them all. And to read them aloud to my grandson. And isn't that just so marvelous?

If you want to order any of these books, please click on the Amazon link up on the right. I will get a few pennies if you order through that link.


Lucy's Mom said...

You love books the way I love dogs. It's really wonderful.