Childhood Books

We went to a friend’s baby’s first birthday over the weekend, and aside from the overwhelming cuteness of a gaggle of one year olds, the most fun for me was shopping on Friday for books. When their son was born a year ago, JAMAL’s friends asked for our favorite childhood books to start his library. I had the hardest time narrowing it down to an acceptable number. I love books. I love that my parents insisted upon flooding me with good books as a kid, and that we read together every night before bed. I had a library card at age 4, and though they limited the number of books kids could check out at one time, the librarian let me have as many as I wanted because I explained in detail the plot of the book I wanted and the author when I couldn’t remember the title (it was “Bill and Pete Go Down the Nile”), standing on my tip-toes to see over the counter. Books were more important than anything in our house. That’s the most important thing I hope to pass on to my own future kid one day.

After perusing Barnes & Noble on Friday and saying, “Aw! I remember this one!” a million times, I decided it would be great to do a round up of my favorite books from childhood. Only it spiralled wildly out of control quickly. At first I thought I could do a top ten. And then once I started looking for titles, I realized I had to include a lot more than I originally thought. These are all books I love dearly, that I could recite from memory to this day. Most of these I still have in a box in my mom’s basement, on stand-by for when I need them, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t seriously consider buying all of these last night JUST TO BE PREPARED.

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1. “The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush” / 2. “Bill and Pete Go Down the Nile” / 3. “Miss Nelson is Missing” / 4. “Porcellus the Flying Pig” / 5. “Strega Nona” / 6. “Doctor Desoto” / 7. “George and Martha” / 8. “The Amazing Bone” / 9. “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble” / 10. “Hey, Al” / 11. “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” / 12. “Nimby” / 13. “The Berenstain Bears” / 14. “The Garden of Abdul Gasazi” / 15. “The Art Lesson” / 16. “Wacky Wednesday” / 17. “Madeline” / 18. “The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau” / 19. “Amelie Bedelia” / 20.  “Ira Sleeps Over” / 21. “The Lorax” / 22. “Something from Nothing” / 23. “The Return of Freddy Legrand” / 24. “Gorky Rises” / 25. “Babar’s Travels” / 26. “Where the Sidewalk Ends” / 27. “A Light in the Attic”

Wow. And this is just a small sampling of the books that were stacked in my room growing up. These are my absolute favorites, but I’m terrified that tomorrow I’ll realize I forgot about 30 more. It’s not super insane to start a library for a child that isn’t even close to being conceived yet, is it? I’ve done crazier.

Are any of these familiar to you? Either from your own childhood or your kids?

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April 8, 2013 / read / watch / LEAVE A COMMENT / 35

35 comments

  • Ahhh really good memories. My sister learned to read with Sylvester and the Magic Pebble.

    • What a good book to learn on! One of the greats. xo

  • I miss my childhood books collections. Ugh. i want to dive into those books again!!

    • You’re only as far as your nearest bookstore! I say go for it :) xo

  • So many good memories from that list. And so many good ideas too! I love William Steig and Babar especially. Reading with your child is such a great delight. I told Callum a few weeks ago that I will have great regret if we don’t read a few books together that we missed in his growing up, so we’re going to hit them this summer. I can’t wait. Thank God he’s willing to humor me!

    • Good for Cal! And good for YOU for still wanting to read together. He’s never too old and neither are you. Ohh I can’t wait! xo

  • no that’s not crazy at all! people plan and prepare for disasters why not kids? (it’s definitely more positive). i am constantly finding books i loved as a kid and reading them with mine. they don’t always have the same reaction as i did but sometimes i will watch them slowly flipping through the pages and it is actually a pretty overwhelming feeling wondering if they are seeing it similar as i did when i was a little girl. i guess it’s like the timelessness or time warp, it’s good. i love your selections! oh miss nelson! strega nona! doctor de soto! do you remember tikki tikki tembo? oh that was another favorite of mine. xoxo

    • That’s an excellent way of putting it! I mean kids are kind of like little hurricanes anyway, right? ;) I bet it’s an incredible feeling sharing your favorites with your own kids. Even if they have a different experience with it, it’s the fact that you’re doing it together that counts. We read Tikki Tikki Tembo but I don’t remember it as well! Adding it to the list of books to buy one day! xoxo

  • Wow I haven’t heard of any of those except for Babar, which I never entirely understood. Probs because we had it in French! My favourite book was beastly boys and ghastly girls and Carrie’s War.

    • I’m so jealous you had Babar in original French! I’ve never heard of your favorites either but that’s kind of neat if you think about it! The experience of falling in love with books is different everywhere! xoxo

  • I used to love Shel Silverstein to the point where I would try to memorize as many poems as I could. I still know a few by heart :-)

    • Haha yes! I still know “I’m Reginald Clark and I’m afraid of the dark” by heart! xoxo

  • Crazy? I think not. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble was a birthday gift from my ex husband in 1972! You weren’t born until 1986 so it’s NEVER too early to start a library for a nonexistent nursery!

    • Haha thanks for the vote of encouragement! Ill start by digging out the books I havr saved in your basement first so I don’t duplicate. xoxo

  • One of the best things about having a child are the books and recreating y old library. Freddie knows Fox in Sock and One Fish Two Fish by Dr Seuss by heart already. I am also ordering lots from Poland, it demands searching high and low for the original illustrations but it is so worth it. We are also starting to collect older books like Little Prince and Winnie the Pooh and the Moomins, the fun is neverending.

    • Oh the specific versions and illustrations are important! I can definitely understand that. Freddy is so lucky to have you! You’re doing him such a great favor in exposing him to all this wonderful literature. I loved The Little Prince and Winnie the Pooh when I was older, there is a whole trove of books out there that I loved when I was that age range. These are from when I was younger. Ooh, that could be a fun post, too! xoxo

  • Oh, and a friend of mine has collected hundreds of children classics, no child in sight!

    • Whew! There’s hope for me yet! xoxo

  • Some of these I am definitely familiar with. But, not because I can remember reading any of them. I wonder if that’s why I’m not a reader now. Because I never read the “basics” when growing up.
    On a totally random note, just looking at these covers reminds me of the thing they used to do in grammar school where they would bring in this brochure and you could order/buy books from it. Did you have that too?

    • It’s never too late to start reading some kids titles! Most of them are more fun than adult books, haha. And I totally remember those book order forms in school! They were made of really thin paper, almost like thin newsprint. And you had the order strip on the back that you gave to your teacher. Man I miss those. That made reading so much more accessible because it brought it directly to you. What a great idea! xoxo

  • From your list I only know the Barbar book. My favorite book as a child was The Trip to Panama, where a tiger and a bear attempt to travel to Panama because they think it must be the most wonderful place on earth because they discover a box that smells like bananas with the word Panama printed on it. At the end they end up at their house again but because so much time has passed they don’t recognize it an live happily ever after in “Panama”…Because I lost my original book my mom gave me a new copy a couple of years back. It’s so funny that reading it nowadays brings me right back to my childhood…

    • That sounds like a wonderful story!! I can’t believe I never heard of it before. I’ll have to add it to my list of future purchases. Seriously, that story sounds adorable. I mentioned to Annie that I think it’s so neat that none of these ring a bell for you, because you had your own list of books! Pretty fantastic. xoxo

  • Amelia Bedelia! Aw, seeing that book on your list just brought back a wave of memories. I also remember reading a lot of Nancy Drew and choose your own adventure books. Do you remember those? Thanks for this comprehensive list. I can assure you that it will be repeatedly referenced. I cannot wait for my kids to start reading. Like you, I want to pass on to them my love of reading. It was my salvation when I was growing up, along with weekly trips to the library.

    • Haha, yes! Choose your own adventure books were great, but I was the worst with them because I’d read both options to pick which one I wanted. I hated not knowing what I was missing! I love that you used the word salvation, because that’s exactly what books were for me, too. And the library. I really miss the library. xoxo

  • I am so lucky to have had a grandmother that loved reading and sent me 4 different children’s books a month. I remember the excitement of going to the post office to pick them up. For the life of me, I can’t remember the titles of any of them (something to do with a studious gherkin stands out in my mind) but if I saw them I would know them immediately. I don’t know any of the books you picked out – I might need to rectify this!

    • What a wonderful grandmother! Clearly she knew the way to your heart. I want to be a grandmother like that! But first I want to be that kind of mother. Haha, one step at a time! That must have been so magical for you every month. What a treat! xoxo

      • As if there is going to be a child’s book in print that your baby won’t already own from his/her grandmother!

  • Berenstain Bears! Amelia Bedelia! Last year there was a spell of time I was on Amazon and trying to read as much of these books again as allowed in those previews they have. I even went to the kids’ section of the library to read the new Berenstain Bear books they have released since I left elementary school.

    My friend’s baby girl is due next month. I can’t decide which of these books I would give her as a gift, but when she’s old enough, if her parents haven’t already gotten her Harry Potter books, and they don’t object, I would like to do the honours of gifting her all the books…

    • I hadn’t even thought about the fact that they might have released more Beranstain Bear books since I was a kid! Wow! Now I definitely need to catch up. I had my favorites, but I bet there are more that I’d love now. Or that my future kids would, haha. I love the idea of you gifting someone the Harry Potter series. I can’t imagine a more meaningful set of books. Of course her parents will allow it! That would definitely be an honor and a half. xoxo

  • PS: I didn’t know the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs book looks like that – the animated film looks so different.

    • That’s the original artwork! I’m not entirely familiar with the animated movie version (I’m a purist, so I didn’t see the new movie, same with The Lorax, too) but the original is so much more delicate and sweet, less super bright colors and flashy animation. You’d love it! xo

  • I’ve always loved books and I think it comes from my Dad reading to us every night. My favorites were the naughty Amelia Jane series by Enid Blyton and ‘The Secret Garden’. Although we weren’t taught to respect them and as a result I don’t have many left now.

    You’ve inspired me to start collecting books for my little one, will be starting with your list above :)

    • One of my fondest memories of childhood is my dad reading to me in bed. I can’t think of a more special takeaway from childhood than the love of reading and the quality time. The good thing about those books you mentioned is that you can probably still buy them today, in more sturdy binding! I bet your future little one would love it. xoxo

  • […] of my all time favorite children’s books was “Madeline.” Have you read it? I’m assuming it’s so well known I […]

  • This is such brilliant post. I wish I had seen it at the beginning of this school year when I was buying books for my class xo