Thursday, January 19, 2006

going forth into the book stacks

Okay, bad pun. But here is indeed a fourth section of those favorites, again in no particular order. Or no conscious order, perhaps.

My partner and I read to our children a lot. Indeed, I read to my children before they were born, and while they were tiny babies (in those days poetry mostly; lots of Yeats). In the process of finding things to read we discovered a number of books neither of us had discovered as children. Yes, there were the stacks of picture books (I can recite Goodnight Moon by heart even now, and also the Runaway Bunny), but more fun by far were the so called chapter books, to be read a chapter at a time (but often chapter after chapter into the early, early morning, if a book was particularly exciting).

In this group were all the Edward Eager books (these, actually, I had encountered as a child--at least one, my favorite, The Time Garden); the Green Knowe series by LM Boston (a mix of magic, gardens, an old house, ghosts--throw in a gorilla and a Chinese boy as well); Susan Cooper's five book Dark is Rising series (they have their base in Celtic mythology), and E. Nesbit's fantasies (Five Children and It, and more). And LeGuin (her Left Hand of Darkness is a private favorite, maybe more about it later) with the Earthsea Trilogy. We also read Lloyd Alexander's series based in Welsh myth with a lot of pleasure, and all the Narnia books, which were not my favorites, but the kids gobbled them up. Gabe hated Tolkein. We'd read the series to my eldest and began reading to our daughter and Gabe; Gabe is 4 years younger than she. He'd hide the books, after the Hobbit (he liked the Hobbit).

The nice thing about spacing your children at wide intervals is that you get to reread all the wonderful things over and over and over again.

My partner ventured off on his own book passions: reading Alice to our daughter when she was a bemused two year old (she laughs and claims any oddity in her soul dates from those days); reading Moby Dick to my eldest son--though he never got far in that. Eldest son loved Tintin and Asterix and comic books, and learned to read by reading masses and masses of comics. The Secret Garden (Burnett) was a favorite of all my family--how could we help it? A walled, neglected garden; a spoiled orphan, an invalid, a wise old gardener....And the illustrations (Tasha Tudor's, I think) were charming.

My eldest was particularly fond of books in which poor families kept it together and loved one another despite tragedy or difficulty: the first of the Boxcar Children series, the Little Peppers and How They Grew, the Laura Engel Wilder series.

Ah, and The Wheel on the School (DeJong). Children bring the storks back to their little village by changing the environment. (not as sticky as it sounds; it is funny and thrilling).

1 Comments:

At March 22, 2006 6:31 PM , Blogger marlyat2 said...

I do wish that I'd read the Green Knowe books when I was a child. I also have a very pretty copy of "The Sea Egg" that was given to me by one of my editors at FSG.

One of my very favorite books for children is Leon Garfield's marvelous book, Smith. If you haven't read it, you must. It has some knockout images and rends the heart. And I like Alan Garner and Joan Aiken and so on--Leon Garfield's contemporaries or thereabouts.

 

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