“I see now that dismissing YA books because you’re not a young adult is a little like refusing to watch thrillers on the grounds that you’re not a policeman or a dangerous criminal, and as a consequence, I’ve discovered a previously ignored room at the back of the bookstore that’s filled with masterpieces I’ve never heard of.”—
Our very favorite children’s books left an irreversible impression on our childhoods and on our lives. Some of our most cherished storybook characters are so real and palpable in our memory that it feels as if we were introduced to them yesterday.
Let the countdown begin: 10 days until the next live Sensible Nonsense Project event here in Philadelphia! If you’re in town, come on by and enjoy the after-school-snack themed reception. But even if you’re not, you can tune in live via KWH-TV.
Meanwhile, you can prime yourself with this list of nine lessons from classic children’s books, or by browsing our bookshelf of past essays.
Randall Munroe of XKCD looks at the science of The Little Prince and comes to a few interesting conclusions on why we never see our young hero dunking a basketball on his home planet. (Spoiler alert: it’s not because he’s too busy tending his rose.)
“I don’t think there is such a thing as a bad book for children. … Well-meaning adults can easily destroy a child’s love of reading. Stop them reading what they enjoy or give them worthy-but-dull books that you like – the 21st-century equivalents of Victorian ‘improving’ literature – you’ll wind up with a generation convinced that reading is uncool and, worse, unpleasant.”—
Great stories never grow old! Chosen by childrens librarians at The New York Public Library, these 100 inspiring tales have thrilled generations of children and their parents and are still flying off our shelves. So use this list and your library card to discover new worlds of wonder …
There are a lot of reasons to love your local libraries; here are just 100 to get you started.
(Ed. Note: you can also use this as an inspiration list to submit an essay to The Sensible Nonsense Project!)
“The reason I love [my work] is, the connection between the reader and the book is the most profound in childhood. It is never the same again. You can love a book with all your heart as an adult; it can mean a great deal to you; you can read it over and over. But you don’t enter the world of the book and believe in it the way you did as a child.”—
Wendy Lamb of Wendy Lamb Books, Random House Children’s Books Group, at her visit to Kelly Writers House on Wednesday, September 18, 2013.
Moments in my childhood are framed by books: by library cards, by the smell of musty pages, by pages stolen in classrooms when I thought the teachers weren’t looking. I read in the car during late night trips to Canada to visit my grandparents. I read in high school on our deck, swinging on the chair. Sometimes I’d fall asleep. I read in Nova Scotia at the cabin. I read under the covers with a flashlight, hoping my mom wouldn’t see the light peeking under the door. I read while I brushed my teeth. I read while I ate my cereal. I walked and read. I woke up in the mornings and felt around on the bed for the book I’d dropped the night before. I read with Molly curled up beside my head. I read at 3 am with Isobel nursing. Books are the signposts of my memories. Or is it the other way around?
It is a great privilege to try and offer the same to my daughter. I show her the books I loved. I show her new books—ones I hope that she remembers someday and shows her own children. At night, she sits quietly on my lap, holding her blanket. I can hear the occasional sucking nose from her pacifier. Sometimes she wants to interact now. She’ll point at the books and name something. Or she’ll want to help flip the pages. But she’s watching, paying attention. She knows when I move from left to read on the page. My voice turns, so she turns her head. She knows when I say “the end!” that it means I’m done. She’ll peer over the side of the chair at the stack of books slung into a basket and wait for me to pull another. I’d love to say I do this for her, that I am hoping I instill a love of reading and I know this time is so important, but that’s not entirely true. I do it for me too. I feel like I am cutting a small part of my soul and offering it to her. Will she like it? Will this become a part of her, the way it is a part of me?
Will saying “rink-rinker-fink” thrill her the same way it does me?
Will this be her favorite too? Will she still remember sweet Fritz and his bravery when she grows up?
Will she remember how I whisper the last line of the book into her ear before setting it aside, turning out the light and rocking her asleep?
Should I tell her about the time I started reading her this and had to stop because I started crying?
Will she love this poem as much as I did? (I carried my blanket everywhere, of course.)
Will she laugh remembering the ridiculous sneeze noises I’d make trying to properly convey Robert’s ACHOOOOOOO?
Will she look at this book over and over again, wishing she had a dress just like the princess (and a dog just like her dog too)?
Books have made my life so rich, so magical. I don’t know what she might remember and what she might not, but I do hope she looks back at her childhood and remembers reading. I want her to sneak a flashlight under the covers and to check out more books from the library than she can possibly read in two weeks. I hope she tries to read at the table even when I say, “No reading at the table!” I want to tell her one day how when she was very small, I read to her in the middle of the night as she dozed back off to sleep in my arms.