Thursday, November 29, 2007

Top 7 children's books

Heather asked me to list my top seven children's books. I'm a bit intimidated by this project because my experience with children's book is as a child, not a parent. My list is also limited to picture books. Cataloging my favorite children's chapter books would require another blog...or two...or five.

1. The Clown of God :: Award-winning Catholic author and illustrator Tomie dePaola tells the story of a little beggar from Sorrento, Italy who learns to juggle. His art takes him from small villages to the palaces of kings, and, ultimately, to perform for the King of Kings. This is my all-time favorite picture book. I first read it when I was nine and cried. Now I own it, re-read it periodically (with tears), and remember to offer all my gifts back to Him.

2. The Tale of Three Trees :: This traditional folktale tells the story of three trees who believe they will amount to nothing. God unfolds a special plan for each one of them as readers turn each beautifully illustrated page.

3. St. George and the Dragon :: The sumptuous illustrations are reason enough to read this book, but the epic story of the knight who saves the princess by fighting a dragon for three days is likewise compelling. No wonder it won the Caldecott.

4. Santa, Are You For Real? :: In this book, a little boy learns about the life of Saint Nicholas and the true meaning of Christmas and gift-giving. I'm skeptical about the illustrations in the new edition sold on In my parent's copy, the main character wears bell-bottoms and the sisters who receive Nicholas' gifts all part their flowing hair like flower-children. If you can find their version, buy it.

5. Little Bear :: The Little Bear series follows the adventures of a cuddly protagonist. They were the first chapter books of my reading career. I poured over them with my mom, loving each word as it slid or crashed out of my mouth. My favorite story is the mermaid's tale. I thought she was immensely pretty and understood why Little Bear fell in love with her.

6. Olivia :: Who doesn't love the little pig in red? She's an amalgamation of all the adorable traits of the small children I've babysat over the years. The book, which is the first in a collection, is especially amusing to me now because she visits several famous NYC destinations, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Of course, she processes these experiences with the hilarity and honesty of a pre-schooler!

7(a). Noah's Ark :: This is another Caldecott winner with detailed illustrations and scant text because the pictures do such a phenomenal job of conveying the epic call God gave Noah in building, filling, and floating in the ark. Identifying all the animals kept me amused for hours.

7(b). The Illustrated Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales :: Mom picked-up this weighty volume for me at a neighbor's garage sale. Some of the stories are downright nightmarish, but they convey strong moral messages and feature princesses, my profession of choice during grade school. Arthur Rackham's illustrations are fittingly goulish and graceful.

I can't think about books without commending my mom for teaching me how to read and how to love it. At least once a week, she drove my sisters and me to the library, and we were always able to get out of preparing dinner as long as we had our noses in books. Needless to say, I read every afternoon and studiously-so around 4:30 PM. To her, I attribute the countless, colorful adventures of the imagination that marked my childhood. Thank you, Mom. You still get my vote for the best Reepacheep voice!


Ornery's Wife said...

I am sad to say I never read any of those. My favorite picture children's book is the Cajun Night Before Christmas. HI-larry-us. Not real intellectual, but then, neither am I! :-)

Simple Joys said...

Such sweet memories! I love my girls and books - what a joy to bring them together! Thank you!,

Mrs. Miller said...

I've never read the Cajun Night Before Christmas, Aunt Tracy. I'll add it to my library list! Speaking of hilarious books, Keith introduced me to A Christmas Story last year. He read it out loud to my mom, sister, and me over chai tea in the kitchen. It was so funny I had a hard time keeping the tea in my mouth for all the laughter!