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Books that keep on keepin' on

HereComeTheBearsLowRes It's probably normal.  People are drawn to what is familiar, right?  I have found that with kids books, characters and shows, I head first to the ones I grew up with.  Not that they're any better or worse than the newer ones coming out today.  It's just that they're familiar.  Big bird?  An old friend.  Brother and Sister Bear?  Like my own siblings.  Madeline?  Babar?  Ramona & Beezus?  Heidi?  More old, beloved friends.

Somehow it makes me feel all warm inside, that me and my kids were both pals with the same fuzzy make-believe characters.  When my Mom visited recently three generations of us enjoyed Sesame Street Live - and all had our own memories of and connections to the characters.  There's just something sort of cool about my son laughing at Cookie Monster singing "C is for Cookie" as heartily as I did (er, do).

I do manage to branch out (Arthur and Annie & Jack are also very popular in our house these days), but wonder what old faithfuls you find resurfacing at your house?  Do you tend to stick with them, or are you eager to leave all that old stuff in the dust?  Got an old fave that your kids love, too?  Or a beloved character that your kids - or you - want nothing to do with?

Given that our society has thankfully progressed in a bundle of ways since the 1970s when I was under 10, it only makes sense that children's lit has progressed, too, and that I should be embracing the new over the old since it's likely to be a little less sexist/racist/whatever.  Or not?


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Totally going with the old stuff, here. I figure they'll find a lot of the new stuff on their own, just like I did.

In fact, I just seized what may be an all-too-brief window of opportunity and read my 9yo son both The Secret Garden and A Little Princess. He loved them.

All the Frog & Toad books (and really, all Lobel books) that I read as a kid we got for my stepson when he was a little one (he is now almost 14). We now read them to my 2.5 year old daughter and she loves them.

Same with Little Bear books and Maurice Sendak books.

We have a good mix going around here. Goodnight Moon and Blueberries for Sal sit cover to cover with Bear Feels Scared and Dooby Dooby Moo. I have a really good time at Powell's finding books that I have never seen outside my childhood home (Rain Makes Applesauce, Squawk to the Moon Little Goose, The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes) but I also really enjoy sifting through the glut of contemporary kids' lit and finding new gems. I have been a kids' book junkie since long before I had a kid; it's nice to have a justification for a good habit.

I have to say, though, that there is something pretty amazing about watching my father-in-law sharing his childhood edition of Time of Wonder with my daughter. Some things just do endure.

My kids love a lot of the books I read as a kid, and it does warm my heart to see it happen. We sometimes have to talk about the sexist/racist stuff (like in Laura Ingalls or Mrs. Piggle Wiggle), but there's a lot there to love, too.

Some oldies that my kids love: Little Bear, Frances (as in A Birthday for Frances), Laura Ingalls, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.

Some new ones I've come to love because of my kids--Three Samurai Cats, Gary Soto's Chato books, and Rosemary Wells's Max books.

Beatrix Potter, E.B. White, Roald Dahl. Ahh.
Right now we're reading "From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler." Loved it then. Love it now. And coming up? A Wrinkle in Time, Johnny Tremain, Blue Willow, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables. . .can't wait.

I've found that the Little House books offer a great opportunity to put the racism in a historical context and open a discussion about how attitudes have (or haven't) changed. I'm actually looking forward to similar discussions around Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.

Oh--and the "All-of-a-Kind Family" series!

We've been doing a pretty good mix of old and new. We went through the Ramona series and The Tale of Depereaux, followed by the Spiderwick series and are currently on book five of Harry Potter. I actually appreciate the older books' less pc inclusion of issues that current kids books at best gloss over, like smoking and prejudices. When my daughter had questions about what the teenagers were doing outside the Starbucks, I had Ramona and her Father to use for reference when explaining what smoking is, how it hurts you and how it is very hard to stop doing once you start. Thank you Beverly Cleary!

We just finished reading The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, a chapter a night and the boys loved it. I was just as entranced because although I grew up watching the movie I had never actually read the book. Their dad read them Treasure Island when they were really in a pirate phase. I grew up reading all the Little House Books and then I started looking at them again and I realized how much racism there was but I agree it is a platform for some healthy discussions with my sons. Both the boys now are into Star Wars, I will read something like that but I always squeeze in some old classics between.

i'm with melissa--we love arnold lobel...frog & toad, but all the others, too. owl at home, small pig, mouse tales--they are all great. our 2.5 year old loves them. and you can get them as part of the "i can read" series so they are like $3 or $4 each.

arnold lobel!

I am surprising myself and enjoying the newer books. Anything by Mo Willems is on my favorites list...from Edwina the Dinosaur who Didn't Know She was Extinct to the Elephant and Piggy series...I just love reading them aloud.

Lobel lover here too.

I've been branching out from my old favorites a bit lately, though I continue to look forward to introducing more and more. I've basically been grabbing whatever series' I can find that are simple and fun to read. Mostly first reader type books. I've really enjoyed being able sit down with my son over the course of these multiple stories because they really give us a chance to fall in love with the characters, more so than the one-of type books do.

From this, one of the 'new' books that we've really developed an appreciation for is the Mr. Putter and Tabby series. Also, by the same author, the Harry and Mudge series. We also go on author binges, hunting down all the books of one author even if they're not part of a series. Jan Brett is one that we've really enjoyed following, with such a variety of fun and beautiful books that range from very simple too deeply complex (for a kid).

Yay books!

Winnie the Pooh never gets old because they are Brilliant! Anything Provenson (the color kittens anyone?)Sidenote, Alice Provenson was my dear friends land lady in upstate New York at the real Maple Hill Farm! She was a wonderful woman with a broad brimmed garden hat and cats galore. What a way to indulge childhood hero worship but to ride my friend's horse as he swam through the real pond I read about so often as a little girl.
We love the blurb Sesame Street books with Oscar the Grouch or Grover pleading for us not to turn the page!!!! Runaway Bunny and so many old golden books, creepy Thumbelina. Delicious indulgence. Good readings all.

Oh and scary Bedtime for Frances! Veronica Cordoroy and The Little Raccoon No Trouble at All But cheers for Dinosaur Roar! and those wacky hippos (We recently went to see Big Little Things and when the hippos were revealed lounging on the bed my little guy yelled out "Hippos go Berserk!"

This is timely because I've been reading Charlotte's Web aloud to our 4.5 year old (her dad read it to her last year but I'm doing #2) and omigosh that is SUCH a lovely book. I remember the story well from childhood, but the prose--is so, so sweet and simple and lyrical. I'm loving reading it aloud...am more likely to give in to the "please just one more chapter?" than with other books (like Rainbow fairies! She loves those but they are *so* badly written!).

Pack rats that they are, my parents saved all my childhood books and gave them to my daughter when she was born. So far (she's 3) she's loved my old Paddington books, Frog & Toad, Little Bear, Mouse Stories, The Cat at Night by Dahlov Ipcar (stunning!), and tons of the old little golden books (Frisker the Dog, Shy Little Kitten, Peppermint, etc.). And for some reason she loves What Do You Do, Dear, but not What Do You Say, Dear.

We're always on the lookout for more contemporary books, and while we've found lots of good ones, she hasn't fallen in love with one particular contemporary author or series yet.

My guy loves Roald Dahl - he'll read one over a few nights, then as soon as he's done, turn around and read it again. Especially The BFG, James and the Giant Peach, and George's Marvelous Medicine. I love Roald Dahl too and the way the bad guys are SO bad - I think it's cathartic somehow when they get defeated.

We recently finished The Trumpet of the Swan (with 4 year old) and it was just what I'd been looking for in comments on an earlier post. It's wonderful! Now, thanks to suggestions from UM, reading the B is for Betsy books rapidly. It seems like we'll next read another series by the same author. We are so much happier with these than the Junie B Jones style, ugh. Personally, I'm reading the Read Aloud Handbook as suggested and wow, I love it and love the suggestions I'm finding there. Thanks urbanmamas once again!

What a great post! As a family living in a country where none of are "native" (Sweden), we are exploring the traditional Swedish children's stories that are a bit "new" to me. Pippi Longstocking is still the princess of the Swedish characters...and she enthralled both of my children (ages 3.5 and 2) from day 1. She is a wonderful contrast to the Disney princesses which my daughters also are very fond of (not story book I know, at least in the Disney representation...).

From the classics: Madeline, Beatrix Potter stories, and The Snowy Day and Louie by Ezra Jack Keats, and the Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Looking so forward to Beverly Cleary and Roald Dahl in a couple of years...

From the newer: Maisy, most all of Sandra Boynton and Leslie Patricelli. We also love Olivia. Looking forward to Harry Potter.

What a great topic...I will have to go find some Frog and Toad!

And how could I forget! I looked for this book almost every trip to the library as a child...

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Ella the Elegant Elephant series by Carmela and Steve D'amico.

I second Mo Willams! He's brilliant and it doesn't hurt his credentials that he was a writer on Sesame Street too! I love every last book of his and am eagerly awaiting the next Elephant and Piggie book. My daughter resists reading on her own, but loves those wonderfully silly early readers! I just love that he found a way to make repetition fun, instead of painful.

We love much of what has been mentioned here, and I'm happy for the suggestions too--always looking for new things to check out from the library or pick up used. We also love Dr. Seuss--those books are so fun for me to read and silly to listen to.

This is a plug, but if you are in the market for more contemporary titles, I sell Barefoot Books and as a mama, cannot recommend them enough. The books are wonderfully written, beautifully illustrated, and tend to have themes that are quite a bit more global and truly celebrate diversity, which we really appreciate. My son probably knows more about the Silk Road, The Galapagos Islands and Africa than the average American adult because of these books. Take a look at my website and send me an email offline if you're interested in a list of age appropriate titles. www.MyBarefootBooks.com/LeahNoreng

Yeah books, I love topics like this one!

Our guy loves really realistic artwork in his picture books - Graeme Green (Animalia and The Water Hole) are popular, we also love the rhythm of the season series by Lynn Plourde (Wild Child is our fave. "If you give..." by Numeroff are sweet books and of course: Magic School Bus! (I prefer the originals rather than the ones based on the PBS series, but he loves them all.) And don't forget for your wiggle worms that can't sit through longer chapter books - graphic novels are a Great way to engage them in more complicated stories... I'm personally looking forward to reading him the Moomin books by Tove Jansson - I didn't find them until I was a teenager.

There is so much to be said for the history in older books. They evoke memories that come through in each reading that is just as valuable to kids as the storyline itself. I have wonderful memories of Millions of Cats, the Little House series, Nancy Drew, Bread and Jam for Frances...the list goes on and on. It is good for our kids to know that we were young once and that a relationship with a book can remain for a lifetime. That being said, I work in the children's department at our local library and am delighted at all the new work by authors and illustrators that cross my path each day. A new book In the spirit of Harold and the Purple Crayon is The Pencil by Allan Ahlberg. It is the stand-alone sequel to The Runaway Dinner and is hilarious, fun and beloved by my four-year-old son. Other more contemporary reads are The Seven Silly Eaters, Farmer Brown Shears His Sheep, A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever, Wabi Sabi, and on and on. He also loves the Berenstain Bears, Spiderman, Henry and Mudge and all the silly but fun books that won't top any awards list any time soon. But each one is special to him and keeps him up past his bedtime "reading" by flashlight. I'm sure this will translate into great memories for all of us.

My husband and his mom talk all the time on how he and sister loved these books called Ant and Bee growing up. I would love to read these stories to my children but I cannot find them anymore. These books were written by Angela Banner and are apparently now out of print. Has anyone every heard of these?

Funny that you posted this at about the same time as i was writing about it on my mama blog. I am so stoked to have found Ramona Quimby again, not only because she lived in Portland, but because she is soooo like my five year old it is hilarious! It's our first foray into books that don't have pictures on every page, and she loves it. Of course, these type of books are also supplemented with books (can't remember titles right now) that herald mother earth, recycling, body confidence, etc..
Here's the original post, if anyone is interested.


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