Wednesday, April 13, 2011

50 children's books

If you're like me, you'd run the other way when someone comes to you and says that everyone "should" read this and "should" do that. That was my initial reaction to the list
by The Independent, of 50 books every child should read. But my curiosity got the better of me and I checked it out. (Thanks, Kelly Fineman at Writing and Ruminating, for pointing out the link.)

The article is about a list of 50 books compiled by prominent British children's authors and librarians in response to the their Education Secretary's suggestion that every 11-year old child should read a book a week to improve literacy.

I have read only a few on the list and wonder about the inclusion of some others. But
rather than to comment on their list, I thought I would come up with my own. I hope you'll indulge me as I share the books that have a special place in my children's reading journeys.

Susan Cooper: The Magician's Boy
This was the perfect book, in terms of the magical
quality of the story, the whimsical illustrations, and the length, for my daughter when she first learned how to read and we've worn out You Read To Me I'll Read To You (how I miss those cuddling sessions spent with this series of sweet, funny books.) She felt accomplished having finished reading a book on her own.

E. B. White: Charlotte's Web
We read this together at about the same time as she read The Magician's Boy. We would each read a page. Once again, she felt a sense of achievement after finishing it, especially after I told her this was a famous book.

Tony Abbott: The Secrets of Droon series

These are the books I credit for bringing my daughter from being someone who can read to someone who reads fluently.

Roald Dahl: Matilda
She first read this in first grade and has continued to read it once a year.

J. K. Rowling: Harry Potter
Rick Riordan: Percy Jackson
These books brought her the type of engagement and enjoyment that we bookworms thrive on.

Cressida Cowell: How To Train Your Dragon series
My son liked the Magic Tree House series when he first began to read but lost interest after about three books. I looked for many different alternatives, fiction and non-fiction, that would capture his attention enough to move him from able-to-read to able-to-read-fluently-and-for-enjoyment. These were the ones that did the magic. I knew he was hooked when I heard him chuckling to himself while reading. You can imagine my happiness when he ran to my room just to share a particularly good passage with me. Ah, thank you, Cressida Cowell.

Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black: Spiderwick Chronicles
At the library one day, I checked out all five books at one time, on a hunch. Sure enough, he finished the first book that night and the other four within the next few days. He devoured the Beyond Spiderwick books as well. When are you going to write more, Tony and Holly?

Bruce Coville: Jeremy Thatcher Dragon Hatcher
Like Spiderwick, this book combines magic and reality in a way that captured my son's imagination. (The entire Magic Shop series is fabulous.) The other reason he enjoyed this particular book is that he could relate to the character of Jeremy Thatcher.

Jeff Smith: The Bone series (graphic novels)
My son brought home a copy from the school library and
told me how funny they were. Again, the chuckling while reading. Priceless.

Tom Sniegoski: Bone novels
I saw the illustration on the cover and assumed this was another installment in the series of graphic novels. Turns out this is a novel written by another author, but with illustrations by Jeff Smith. My son didn't bat an eyelid when he found out this wasn't a graphic novel. In fact, he chose to read this over playing his beloved handheld video game!

There are a number of books that I love but my children don't (yet) such as C. S. Lewis's Narnia Chronicles, and those that I want them to be older before they read, such as Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games trilogy.

What about you? What are some of your favorite books for children? What are some of your own beloved books when you were young? Would love to hear your lists.

Note to self: The Hobbit! I bet both of them would love it if we read this together.


Bish Denham said...

I too wonder about some of the books on the list. Old Man and the Sea for 11 year olds? And I think the Lord of the Rings would be a hard one. But some of them seem spot on. Like The Secret Garden.

Anyway. For me (I was perhaps unusual) it was Call of the Wild.

Yat-Yee said...

Bish: The Old Man And The Sea was the first one that jumped out at me too. How old were you when you read Call of The Wild?

Mizmak said...

I like your selections.

Of the ones on the Independent site, I would wholeheartedly second the "Swallows and Amazons" books by Arthur Ransome - classic adventure stories full of heart and imagination. And everyone, young and old alike, should read Tove Jansson's Moomintroll books. They are fantastical, fun, atmospheric, and a sheer delight all round.