Friday, September 6, 2013

Family Favorites Friday: Children's Books

I have asked each of my children to tell us about five of their favorite books from childhood.  Today's Family Favorites Friday is from Hannah, who also happens to be having a birthday today.  Even in her late twenties, I think she would still be happy with a pile of books and a box. 

Books have been some of my best friends for as long as I can remember. I have far too many favorites to fit a list of five, but these are the ones I remember reading over and over between the ages of 1 to 10 or so.




1.  Barn Dance by Bill Martin Jr., John Archambault, and Ted Rand
My parents read this to me so many times that we all had it memorized. I could recite the book to myself at the age of two, turning pages at the appropriate places, which, I am told, caused visitors to wonder if I could actually read.

Full moon shinin’, shinin’ big and bright
Pushin’ back the shadows, holdin’ back the night
Not a thing stirrin’, quiet as could be
Just the whisper of the leaves on the cottonwood tree

Ol’ houn’ dog, whinin’ in his sleep,
Dreamin’ after rabbits in a game of hide an’ seek,
Over in the farmhouse, all the lights were out,
Farmer and his wife and kids, not a one about -

All except the skinny kid, with questions in his head
Much too full of wonderment to spend the night in bed
He was up about and listenin’ when the night owl said::
Come a little closer
Come a little closer
Listen to the night, there’s magic in the air…

Being full of wonderment, obviously the skinny kid sneaks out to explore, and has an adventure full of catchy rhymes, fiddling, and talking farm animals. All a toddler needs to keep herself entertained for hours.

2. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
I checked this book out of the church library dozens of times, starting not long after I learned to read. (I didn’t own a copy until a couple years ago. I guess there is no point if you can return it to the library and immediately check it back out, a process I repeated many times.)

Wilbur the pig befriends Charlotte, the spider who builds her web in a corner of his barn, and together they devise a plan to prevent Wilbur from becoming bacon. There are also human characters, but the talking animals are the important ones. Talking animals were a vital component of my formative literary experiences.

3. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
I wanted to be Peter Pan as a child. I would have settled for one of the Lost Boys, but absolutely not Wendy - playing “mother” for nine little boys didn’t sound any better than growing up. Growing up seemed unnecessary if only one could find Neverland, where you could fly, live in a tree, and fill your days with improbable but gratifying adventures.

I was going to explain everything the Disney movie gets wrong, but that would require its own essay. Just read the book. I guess watch the movie if you want; I loved that as a kid, too. And it’s never too early to teach your children that the book is always better than the movie.

4. The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss
I read this book every summer during our library’s reading program, but resisted the temptation to check it out any other time of year. I refused to read any translation (the original is German) other than the one found within a green library-bound cover with a faded picture on the front, but if you don’t frequent the same library I did I’m sure any version will do.

The titular family is shipwrecked on an island, but not the desert type; in fact, their island conveniently supports all the flora and fauna a family could want to live comfortably far from civilization. The family builds a treehouse and thrives on the island for several years. Absent the real thing, it was the best summer island getaway.

5. All the other books. I couldn’t choose among the 20+ in competition for the final spot.

What would be on your top 5 list of favorites? 

Go ahead and share.  It's nice to share. 


Amanda’s Books and More
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