Children’s Books

Part I: Juvenile Picture Books

I have two granddaughters, age two and three and a half.  I am delighted when the first thing the littlest one does when I arrive at their house is shout “book, book” and run and get one.  When they come to my house they start hauling books off the special bookcase by the front door that is just for their book collection.  We have trained them well.  Grandma always reads to them and their parents read bedtime stories.

I remember the day when my oldest granddaughter, who had just mastered sitting up, was on the floor surrounded by toys.  What she reached for first was the book: “That’s Not My Dinosaur.”  I think that was the first book I read to her.

I am hoping that the last category of books to become popular  as ebooks will be juvenile fiction, those large picture books we read to children.   In fact, I hope we never replace  these, even if we will be able to make ebooks do spectacular things like move and have sound effects, because then we will have lost the social connection of having grandparents and parents read stories and make silly sound effects and change their voices. Then it would be too easy to plunk the kid on the sofa and hand them the ebook because you’re too busy.

Very little can compare to the pleasure I experience reading to small children, which began for me in 1968 when I was a teacher in an experimental school, and continued when I became a parent and ran a group day care home.

My earliest experience in juvenile fiction was, of course, my own childhood.    Little Golden Books were first published in 1942 at 25 cents each with the aim of high quality and low price, which the middle class could afford, even during  World War II.  I was born in 1947 and many of the books I loved were published in the 30s, some in the 40s and 50s.  We had no tv until 1952.

I have noticed that my favorite books are given 4 and 5 star reviews and are still available today on Bookfinder.com.  Many have become classics.
Older Books
This is only a partial list:

  • Millions of Cats – Wanda Gag – 1928
  • Story of Ferdinand – Robert Lawson 1936
  • And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street – Dr. Seuss 1937
  • The King’s Stilts – Dr. Seuss 1939
  • Bartholomew Cubbins and the 500 Hats – Dr. Seuss 1938
  • Madeline – Ludwig Bemelmans 1939
  • The Little House – Virginia Lee Burton 1943
  • Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes – Dubose Heyward 1939
  • Horton Hatches the Egg – Dr. Seuss 1940
  • Curious George – Hans and Margret Rey 1941
  • The Horse Who Lived Upstairs – Phyllis McGinley 1944
  • Goodnight Moon – Margaret Wise Brown 1947
  • Lucky Mrs. Ticklefeather – Dorothy Kunhardt 1951 (who also did Pat the Bunny)
  • The Cats Who Stayed for Dinner – Phyllis Rowand 1951
  • Beady Bear – Don Freeman 1954

I was also exposed to many fairy tales and legends.

Some favorites from my daughter’s generation are in this picture:

IMG_0277

Some favorites from today:

IMG_0273

I cannot overemphasize the importance of reading to young children as a foundation for a lifelong love of reading stories.

Here are my suggestions:

  • Just before bedtime or naps is an ideal time to read as it is calming and settling, and so wonderful to be wrapped up in loving arms and have special attention. 
  • Give your child their very own bookshelf or box for books.  Try to instill respect for these books – clean hands, no crayons, ripping, etc.  For the very young the answer may be board books.  (That’s Not My Dragon)
  • With the cost of brand new juvenile books reaching sixteen dollars and up, the alternatives, in order of cost, are: garage sales, thrift stores, online, or used bookstores.  I would say the public library is cheapest, however our Fort Collins library just got rid of 100,000 books, so that may not be an alternative for long. 
  • A special treat is to read your children or grandchildren the very same books you loved at their age.
  • No kids?  Borrow some.  Or volunteer at a local school or day care.  You may need to have a background check, but the rewards will surely be worth it.    
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