26 February 2010

The One with the Book List

Often, when there are more than 45 minutes of free and uninterrupted time, my best friend Sarah and I usually call each other for lengthy discussions about really important issues. This usually happens when we are driving somewhere and are bored in the car and there’s nothing good on the radio.  


The other day, off the top of our heads, we just randomly started discussing current Caldecott and Newbery award winners, and the fact that we are ecstatic that Scholastic is reissuing parts of The Babysitters Club series.  


Yes. That’s right. We can talk for hours about nothing but books. The smell. The feel. The literary genius of a particular author (i.e. how J.K. Rowling so neatly wrapped up the Harry Potter series). How young adult fiction is so much more “adult” than it used to be. How The Giver and Number the Stars made us want to be better people but the sequels (to The Giver) were highly disappointing.


Yes. We’re that interesting.


(I’m blaming Sarah. She’s knee-deep in her Masters in Library Science program and constantly has books on the brain.)


After our conversation, my interest was intensified. Over the years, since my very first literary encounter with “Pat-the-Bunny,” I’ve read quite a few books - largely in part because of my librarian-turned-mom, mom. That meant books, not TV. No video games in the house to speak of. I remember buying a Gameboy with my hard-earned babysitting money and it “mysteriously” disappeared a week later.


Seriously. I still can’t find it to this day.


Then again, if books were so important, why was I always getting grounded from reading until I got my chores done?


Mom is sticking to her guns that if I ever have kids, I’ll be like, “Hold on kids, I’ll fix dinner/change your diaper/give you your flu medicine after I finish this chapter!”


She’s probably right.


I get absolutely lost in books. I’ve been known to not even realize someone is talking to me because I have my head in the middle of a story.


And I’m so fortunate to have married someone who gets that and is ok with it. Besides, he is the exact same way. Books…not so much. But if ESPN is on or he gets a text on his Blackjack? He’s out for the count.


Anyway, after talking with Sarah, I stumbled upon this really great website. Decades upon decades of the best-loved children’s books of all time.


So going through the list, I discovered not only that because of my mother I’m fairly well-read, but I really, really want to get out some of my favorite books again and re-read them, starting with the entire Little House on the Prairie series. I used to read On the Banks of Plum Creek and Farmer Boy over and over and over. I was even Laura for “Missouri History Day” in middle school once.


I didn’t realize how far back some of my favorite books go. Thanks to mom’s advice on what to check out from the Sullivan Public Library, I read books that were written back in the 1900’s. Here are some of my favorites:


The Beatrix Potter books (Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, Jemima Puddle-Duck – which was my favorite – Squirrel Nutkin and Tom Kitten)

The Nancy Drew series

Make Way for Ducklings

Curious George


Charlotte’s Web

Misty of Chincoteague


**I loved the Misty books with every ounce of my being. Misty of Chincoteague, Stormy,Misty’s Foal, etc. Those books are the sole reason I fell in love with horses and begged my dad for a pony every year from my 8th birthday until…well, last year.


The Giving Tree

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Where the Wild Things Are

The Yearling

The Outsiders

The Little House on the Prairie Series

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great


Freckle Juice

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret

A Wrinkle in Time

A Wind in the Door

A Swiftly Tilting Planet

Stuart Little

The Trumpet of the Swan

Rumble Fish

Where the Sidewalk Ends

Where the Red Fern Grows

Island of the Blue Dolphins

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Pigman

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

The Cay

Julie of the Wolves

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

How to Eat Fried Worms

The Cricket in Times Square

Corduroy (one of the reasons I slept with my arms around all my stuffed animals in case the house caught fire – I just knew they would come to life at night and I would have to save them.)

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe



Frog and Toad are Friends

The Velveteen Rabbit

The Magic Locket

The Silver Slippers

James and the Giant Peach

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Amelia Bedelia

The Indian in the Cupboard (excellent, excellent book! Again with things coming to life.)

The Polar Express

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie


Bridge to Terabithia (this book made me cry for days)

Sideways Stories from Wayside School

Sarah, Plain and Tall

The ENTIRE Babysitters Club Series, including the Super Summer books

The Mouse and the Motorcycle

The Ramona books – I loved anything by Beverly Cleary

Socks (also by Beverly Cleary. I felt so bad for the cat when the baby came home. No one paid attention to Socks anymore!)

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

The Sign of the Beaver (this was hands-down my absolute favorite book ever. I actually wore out my copy and pages fell out.)

The Chocolate War

The Giver

Number the Stars

The Devil’s Arithmetic (A very powerful and moving book. I still read it once a year and highly recommend it to kids and adults. That's why I'm highlighting this commentary. Read it.)


Blueberries for Sal

Summer of My German Soldier

The Secret Garden

The Black Stallion

Black Beauty

The Trumpeter of Krakow

The Pippi Longstocking series

Call of the Wild

White Fang

The Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books (a particular favorite of mine and my sister’s. Who wouldn’t want to live in an upside-down house with pirate treasure in the backyard?)

The Light in the Forest

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

Death Be Not Proud


Helen Keller: Story of My Life

Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Ok, I'm stopping now. Seriously, this list could go on and on and on. These are just books I remember reading when I was a young adult…the books I’ve read since then could fill seventeen million blogs.


And bookcases, of which I am in desperate need. The dogs are starting to build forts out of the stacks of books on the office floor.
Some of these books were just plain fun to read. Others, with deep and serious subject matter, helped shape me into the person I am today. There's nothing like sinking so deep into a book that you become part of it. You empathize with the characters. You hurt for them, you cheer for them. And when you emerge back into reality, the things you experienced stay with you for a little while.
What's the last book you've read that really made an impact and stuck with you? And don't say the Bible. That's a given. :)

1 comment:

RCW said...

Keep all these books in mind. When we eventually have kids I want you to help me build their library. Also, I'm still dreaming of a book-themed baby shower and nursery!