I’ve mentioned many times on this blog that I grew up in a house of readers, always surrounded by books. I’m so thankful for that upbringing because I’ve loved books as far back as I can remember.
Recently, I decided to re-read a few of my favorite children’s books and wanted to provide some brief reviews and talk about why these books are so important to me.
The first book that always comes to mind when I reminisce on the books that I loved growing up is J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.
The Hobbit is a sort of prelude to Tolkien’s adult fantasy trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, and far more suitable to children who might not be interested in the intricacies of the deep folklore and language that Tolkien created for his other novels.
I was introduced to this book early on because my mother had a gorgeous green leather edition of it in a slipcase that I would frequently take down from our living room’s bookshelf and read through over and over again. I’d spend afternoons poring over the pages and maps contained within the story. Hell, at one point I even managed to learn to read the runes on the maps. I was obsessed with this story early on, and am so thankful that my mother loved this book too. She died back in 2010, and every time I re-read this book it makes me feel closer to her.
An author that I frequently think about (and whose work I still love) is Shel Silverstein. Not too long ago I shared a review of Silverstein’s adult book, Different Dances, but I grew up reading his collections of children-appropriate poems, such as Where the Sidewalk Ends and Falling Up.
When I re-read both of these books a few weeks ago, I was surprised to discover that I still enjoyed them, despite now being in my early thirties.
As with The Hobbit, Silverstein’s children’s books are definitely some that I’ll be sharing with any future children I have. The poems are perfect for kids that like to have fun with words and memorize witty little poems that they can recite back to friends and parents at (in)appropriate times.
Silverstein’s drawings, on every page of his books, are fun and simple and drew me in when I was a child.
While Where the Sidewalk Ends is definitely one of his most well-known classics, my favorite has always been The Giving Tree.
If you’re not familiar with that story, it’s about the relationship and friendship between a little boy and his tree. The tree loves the boy dearly, and willingly gives up anything it has in order to protect him. Whether this is in the form of shade, limbs to play on, apples to eat, and so on, there’s no sacrifice too big for the tree. By the end of the story, you’re left with a message of sacrificing everything for love and learning how to appreciate others.
It would be absolutely impossible to have a list of children’s books without having several Dr. Seuss titles on it.
Almost everyone I know, including people much younger than me, had at least one Dr. Seuss story that stuck with them. His books are so perfect and timeless that they’re going to be around for many decades to come, helping children learn to read while, at times, teaching them important lessons.
When I was young, my favorite Dr. Seuss story was One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. I had the entire book memorized by first grade and could recite it back perfectly.
As an adult, the book that I’ve come to appreciate the most is The Lorax. It’s not a surprise that this book has stuck in my mind for so long. I grew up reading books like The Lorax and watching movies such as Ferngully. It’s obvious that becoming an environmentalist started very young for me.
The Lorax is the kind of book that teaches both children and adults important lessons about conservationism and consumerism.
The most aesthetically beautiful book I remember from my childhood is Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.
This book is truly iconic and will be for many years to come. The story is a very simple one, about a boy’s imagination, but it’s the artwork done by author Maurice Sendak that really makes this book special.
Each spread in the book is colorful and perfect enough to hang on your wall as an art print. The images, as an adult, evoke memories of playing as a young child and the fun that could be had with the power of your own imagination.
Two of the first chapter books I remember reading were both by Frances Hodgson Burnett. A Little Princess and The Secret Garden are both wonderful stories for children, and I loved them so much when I was a little girl.
I recently purchased these stunning Barnes & Noble editions so that I could re-read them as an adult, which I plan to do around the holidays.
Out of the two books, The Secret Garden was always my favorite, primarily because I’m attracted to flowers and gardens.
I remember also watching movie adaptations of these stories when I was little, but I don’t actually remember much about them at this point.
So there you have it – a few of my favorite children’s books. Sometime in the near future, I’ll do another post about my favorite books as a pre-teen and teenager because I have so many more books that I could talk about. All of these books I’ll be sharing with my future children and grandchildren to hopefully show them the same wonderful stories that I had growing up.