When Anna asked me if I would write a list of my top ten children’s books I was ecstatic. A kid at heart, I love reading children’s stories just as much as adult novels. The library is one of my favorite places to visit. Not only do I stock up on adult books, I check out what’s new in the children’s room, seeking out inspiration on new writing material and for just pure enjoyment. Here are some of my favorites growing up in no particular order.
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
If you are a New Englander who grew up with a family big on blueberry picking like I did, this is the book to read. As a child, I loved the simple illustrations and pretended I was Sal on her blueberry adventure. Rereading it as an adult takes me back to those times, thankfully minus the bears.
The Remarkable Riderless Runaway Tricycle by Bruce McMillan
I was always one who preferred illustrations to photographs but when I picked up this book I was mesmerized by the black and white photos that went along with the story. A red tricycle rolls back by itself to it’s owner after his parents throw it out. It gave me the chills and was both creepy and awesome at the same time. McMillan is from Maine and as a bonus you can even spot George Bush’s house in one of the photos.
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg
Allsburg gives you a series of black and white illustrations that are both unusual and captivating along with a title and a caption. This allows children to use their imagination to finish the rest of the story. In the introduction of the book Allsburg gives you the back story of these illustrations and it’s just as fascinating as the book itself.
Strega Nona by Tomie de Paola (series)
Reading this as a child I used to imagine the town I lived in filling with spaghetti from Strega Nona‘s magic pasta pot. Before Strega Nona leaves she warns Anthony not to touch her pasta pot. Of course he doesn’t listen and encounters a spaghetti disaster. It’s a great book on the consequences of disobedience.
Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry Allard and illustrated by James Marshall (series)
What child hasn’t had a mean substitute teacher? When Miss Viola Swamp takes over Miss Nelson’s class after her students continuously misbehave they realize how much they miss their teacher and desperately want her back. It’s a fun read with a surprising twist at the end. It’s also perfect for when the school year is about to begin.
Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish and illustrated by Fritz Siebel (series)
Amelia Bedelia is hired by the Rogers as a housekeeper but lacks common sense. As she follows the instructions left for her I would laugh out loud as to how precise she follows those directions. The more she messed up, the more I loved her character. Amelia Bedelia just celebrated it’s fiftieth anniversary.
George and Martha by James Marshall (series)
Covering important yet simple topics for children to understand, lovable hippos, George and Martha show us what true friendship is all about. I was drawn to this series because there are five stories within each book, my favorite being the last when George gets a gold tooth.
Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel (series)
Just like George and Martha, five different stories tell the adventures of best friends, this time between Frog and Toad. I read all of the Frog and Toad books over and over not only because the stories were humorous, but because through thick and thin Frog and Toad were always there for each other.
Once Upon Another: The Tortoise and the Hare/The Lion and the Mouse By Suse MacDonald and illustrated by Bill Oakes
Two classic fables are combined into one book. Once you are done with one story you turn the book upside down, using the same illustrations for the next story. Abstract pictures of colored shapes and textures allow children to use their imagination as the shapes take on different characters and settings in each story.
One by Kathryn Otoshi
Although I didn’t grow up with this book, I couldn’t leave it out. A year ago I happened to notice it on my mother’s kitchen table. Out of curiosity I picked it up and read it three times in a row because I liked it so much. Otoshi uses her immense creativity to write an inventive way to talk about bullying using colors and numbers. It definitely sets itself apart from other books out there on bullying.
When selecting a children’s book C.S Lewis said it best. “No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.” Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it!
Stephanie Workman is the author of Lucy’s Amazing Friend, a picture book about eight-year-old Lucy who befriends Daniel, a boy living with autism. To find out more about the author visit www.stephanieworkman15.com.