Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Books Kids Love

Because books have played such a large role in my life, I've tried, like most parents, to instill in my children a love of the printed word. Although I've tried to limit television, video games (I still limit them to non-violent variety) I try to walk the line between keeping them from participating in the broader cultural conversation---even if it is about Joe Jonas and Taylor Swift--and having them become vapid Gossip Girl types. So there is a good bit of reading that's gone on, and over the years we've established some favorites.

First are Eric Carle's wonderful stories, best read in board books. Even ten years later, I can recite the narrative of the The Very Hungry Caterpillar word for word. It's one of the few that gets better rather than more tedious with repetition.

For those in the five to eight year-old set, my son suggested My Little Sister Ate One Hare, by Bill Grossman. It, too, has repetition, but with some off-kilter humor that generates belly laughs. And an ending that they will find hysterical.

Around the same age, try George and Martha, The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends. These are clever and charming stories, written nearly forty years ago, but with wisdom for parents and grandparents as well. There are some things we all need to be reminded of. Our favorite quote: "But Martha did not say 'I told you so.' Because that's not what friends are for." There are other quotes from some of the funnier stories that have become inside jokes in our family.

Finally, for those who have burned through all of Harry Potter, we like The Mysterious Benedict Society and its sequel novels. Trenton Lee Stewart is a graduate of the esteemed Iowa Writers' Workshop, and he combines a healthy skepticism of authority with some memorable characters with remarkable abilities in a story of children as spooks. None of it is predictable or stereotypical.

All can be purchase online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com

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