Growing up with Books

I remember childhood excursions to the library – a small, poorly-funded library which I am fairly certain we read from corner to corner. My siblings and I would pick out stacks of books to check out and take home. Students earning librarian degrees may have similar memories.

We had a list of favorites that we chose every week, including Rosen's We're Going on a Bear Hunt, Freeman's Corduroy, Salus' My Daddy's Mustache, Hall's Ox-Cart Man, Rylant's Henry and Mudge, Lobel's The Frog and Toad Treasury, Grimm's Little Golden Book of fairy tales, and all of the mice books by Kevin Henkes.  However, our mother was extremely particular about which books we took home.  If a book had a poor story-line, disappointing illustrations, or bratty children, she called them “twaddle books” and we were not allowed to read them.

The children's books that made the strongest impression on me were those that claimed purpose in the story-line, humor in the text, and most importantly had inspiring and imaginative illustrations.  The pictures could make or break the book, because they were what made the story come alive (read more about illustrations on The Illustrator's Wife).  

I still adore the art of Helen Oxenbury, Barbara Cooney, and Tomie dePaola.   

Reading together created our family time.  My mother was always reading out loud to us – mid-day, during dinner, when we took road-trips, and sometimes before we went to bed.  Our favorites were The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney, and The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.  These books taught us about relationships, allowed us to take imaginary adventures, and inspired us in our play.  Occasionally, my dad would read The Complete Tales of Uncle Remus by Joel Chandler Harris and Richard Chase.  We loved it when he read this book, because he would act out all the voices for Brer Rabbit, Brer Bear, and Brer Fox.  Last of all, when it was late at night, I would read The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner aloud to my siblings before we went to sleep.  I must have read the first book in the series about a dozen times.  We pretended we were the characters – Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny – with our own imaginary boxcar in the backyard.

Image borrowed from The Boxcar Children

What books did you love as a child? 


  1. i just clicked a new tab open and decided to create a new pandora station based on "mumford & sons," but then before i could even finish creating the new station, pandora and it's awesome brain put on an awesome song, so i just added m&s to my existing station of awesome.

    pandora just outdid itself.

    this has nothing to do with your post but i'm home alone and i wanted to share and it's too long to post as a status update and anyway, who would comment on it?

    children's books... yes... my personal favorite was old mother hubbard. i had a bunch that i read and re-read constantly, but that's my favorite one to remember. :]

    i liked this post, miss L.

  2. Haha. I love Pandora. I need to start using that thing again. I forgot all about it.

    Mother Hubbard. I remember nursery rhyme pertaining to mother hubbard but I don't know if I've ever seen the book. Who wrote it?

  3. Growing up, I really liked when my dad read us Amelia Bedelia. It was basically the story of the human maid version of Curious George. A maid who always tries to do the right thing, winds up doing the stupid thing, but makes up for it in the end by doing something really random. :P We loved it because my dad would read her voice in this ridiculous cockney falsetto which was really hilarious!

    We also really liked George and Martha, the story of two hippos who are best friends. They have adventures doing silly things that hippos could never actually do, like walk on tightropes, then learn lessons about being good friends. Seems you guys may have read those too, but I can't remember now.

  4. I love both those books - although I must admit, like George, Amelia did get to be quite exasperating at times.

  5. love those books! i like the jolly pocket postman books :)

  6. I still love children's books. I think it is its own art form. I try and write them, but nothing finished.... Yet :)

    I always loved Shel Silverstein. There's a Monster at the end of this book. And way before the movie, I loved Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

    Just to name a few.

  7. I love this post! Last weekend, Shannon was spouting off all of her favorite childhood books, one after the other! I think my memory just stinks, because they sounded familiar but I couldn't remember the stories at all!

    I remember all of the Golden Books, Amelia Bedelia, The Box Car Series, The Five Little Peppers, Winds in the Willows, etc. I think our mom's had the same taste in children's books. :)

  8. I think you're right. Either that or it's because we used the same library. ;)

  9. my family is book people. And I love learning about me children books. Thank you for this post.


  10. Can't say as I remember reading any of those books as a child, but like you I really enjoyed reading.

    Your post got me thinking about the children's books I have read both as a child and adult and I came up with my top ten: http://wealie.co.uk/news-views/my-favourite-childrens-books/ Thanks for providing the inspiration

    Wealie x

  11. I love so many children's books, but Rumer Godden's are my favorite by far. They're so longing, and the language is so perfect, every word set just right. _The Dolls' House_ was my first look at tragedy and evil and heroism in fiction, and it's still one of my very favorite books.

  12. I have always loved going to the library, and it is always the first thing I find whenever I move to a new city.

    As a child I loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder series, Black Beauty, The Black Stallion, Robinson Crusoe and many many more.

    My four-year-old son goes to pre k at the local college, where they have a fabulous library. We are there almost every day:)

    My children have their very own library in their room with tons of books in both English and their second language Danish. Every Christmas and Birthdays they usually get a stack of 40 cent books from the local thrift store, but now I am officially a children's book reviewer, they are exposed to books they would never have chosen themselves.

    Thank you for participating in the Book Lover’s Blog Hop @ Story Time Under the Stars and Frugality Is Free. I hope you will link up a book review and participate in this week’s Book Lover’s Blog Hop as well.

  13. I can't wait to read with my little girl Georgia. Actually, she is only 6 months but this is what she will get from us this year...books. I think my favorite time in life was getting one of those book catalogs at school and getting to order one thing...filling out the little flimsy order form, waiting for WEEKS...not being able to concentrate until I could get home to rip the packaging open!


( hippies always welcome )