This week, I was reading an article called 10 Childhood Classics I didn’t Read Until I Was an Adult. As I looked at her list, filled with so many great books, I was inspired to make my own list, to tell you the ten best books I’ve read aloud to my children that I missed out on as a child.
The Birchbark House--This book wasn’t written until 1999, when I was 20 years old, so I couldn’t read this one as a child. However, this is quite probably one of the best children’s books I have ever read, so I have to give this one a mention. Imagine the Little House on the Prairie novels, only these are written from a Native American point of view. This book, and its sequels are beautifully written, and as an adult, this is one of my favorite series for children.
My Father’s Dragon–I had never encountered this book until I was looking for a book to interest my seven year old boy about five years ago. I had never even heard of its existence. This is a sweet, completely nonsensical story of a boy who runs away from home to rescue a trapped dragon. It, and the two sequels are wonderful, engaging reads for children. The magical appeal of the book to children is charming for a parent to watch.
George Washington and Benjamin Franklin–I had never read a D’Aulaire history book as a child. The illustrations are beautiful, and we find the prose of the books themselves very engaging. Although I singled out these two books, I have found every book I have read by them to be equally beautiful and engaging.
James Herriot’s Treasury for Children–I had never heard of James Herriot until I started homeschooling and this was recommended as a wonderful book for children. Yet these stories for children were published at picture books during my childhood years. They are everything that is warm and magical without being Disney and anthropomorphized animals. They spurred a love for me in James Herriot’s work that has led to me reading three of his books over the course of the past few months.
Homer Price–I had never heard of this delightful book until we were in an elementary aged book club where the book of the month was Homer Price was the book of the month. This book is a collection of short stories about a boy who often finds himself in the center of adventure. I recently introduced this book to my younger son, and found that he loved the gentle Mayberry like feel of these stories just as much as my older two children had loved it.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory–I had seen the 1970 movie, but I had never read the book until I read it aloud to my children. This book is wonderful. It was when we were reading this book that my children decided that they really did like books. This book is darkly funny, and much closer in mood to the Johnny Depp version of the movie than the original movie. We watched the movie again just last week, and I was reminded of so much of what I liked about the book.
Strawberry Girl–I had never heard of this book until my children and I read it for book club. The main character is a young girl who lives on a Florida farm, has good for nothing neighbors and helps her family to harvest strawberries. This book is warm, wonderful and gentle for young elementary students. It’s also a great slice of life of the farmers of the south in the years following the Civil War.
The Courage of Sarah Noble–“Keep up your courage, Sarah Noble.” Sarah is alone, taking care of her father and dealing with Indian neighbors that she finds scary. She finds out that true courage is not a lack of fear, but being brave, even when she is experiencing fear. Another book by this author that I first read as an adult and loved is The Bears on Hemlock Mountain. Both of these books are short, but they impart important lessons about bravery and fear for children.
The Story of the Treasure Seekers–I love this book so much! There are six Bastable children, and their father’s business has failed. They come up with several plots to restore the family fortune, and mostly their efforts lead to fun and trouble–not to wealth. This is another of my very favorite children’s books.
All-of-a-Kind Family–This is the tale of a Jewish family in New York around the turn of the century. They have so much fun together and they go through so many adventures. What their family lacks in money, they have in abundance in love. This is also a great introduction to the Jewish calendar if that’s something you want your children to pick up on.
So, there you have it. Ten children’s books that you can’t miss, even if you need to experience them as an adult. Which ones would be on your list?