BOOKS CHECKED OUT | By JANET CLAPP
“There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.” –Marcel Proust
Children’s books can be a delight for all ages. For parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, teachers and mentors, reading aloud or sharing a favorite book from your own childhood is a wonderful gift. Reading with each other creates memories of togetherness. Sitting on a blanket in the backyard under a shady tree on a hot summer day is a relaxing way to enjoy the summer. In addition to the pleasure of reading, there is the added benefit that children who read do better in school. Even older children and teens who can read on their own still learn from being read aloud to. Sharing books aloud, whether each person takes a turn reading or everybody listens to an audiobook on a car trip, gives the family an opportunity to discuss characters and themes, not to mention experience the sheer enjoyment of a good story.
Many children’s chapter books stand the test of time and are worth rereading, whether or not you have children in your life with whom to share the stories. Here are just a few favorites.
Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner
by A.A. Milne
Pooh decorations and cartoons abound but to enjoy the essence of Pooh it is best to read Milne’s classic stories about Christopher Robin, Pooh and their friends. “Pooh explained as they went that Piglet was a Very Small Animal who didn’t like bouncing, and asked Tigger not to be too Bouncy just at first. And Tigger, who had been hiding behind trees and jumping out on Pooh’s shadow when it wasn’t looking, said that Tiggers were only bouncy before breakfast, and that as soon as they had had a few haycorns they became Quiet and Refined.”
Little House on the Prairie
by Laura Ingalls Wilder
“A long time ago, when all the grandfathers and grandmothers of today were little boys and little girls or very small babies, or perhaps not even born, Pa and Ma and Mary and Laura and Baby Carrie left their little house in the Big Woods of Wisconsin.” In a covered wagon, the family travels west where they build a new home on the prairie among the hazards of weather and wolves, fever and fire. Through it all they depend on Pa’s funny stories and Ma’s quiet love. If you enjoy this tale, read the entire series and enjoy many years with the Wilder family.
The Wind in the Willows
by Kenneth Grahame
It’s spring, and Mole is tired of spring cleaning. “So he scraped and scratched and scrabbled and scrooged, and then he scrooged again and scrabbled and scratched and scraped, working busily with his little paws and muttering to himself, ‘Up we go! Up we go!’ till at last, pop! his snout came out into the sunlight, and he found himself rolling in the warm grass of a great meadow.” Four friends, Mole, Rat, Badger and Toad, enjoy adventures on the open road, by the river and in the Wild Wood. The rich, descriptive language brings the animals and their environs to life.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
by Ian Fleming
When inventor Commander Caractacus Pott buys a car, he works and works on it until she is unlike any other automobile. “She took off like an airplane and soared up over the car in front, just missing her roof, and roared away over the long line of stationary cars in the line, while all the people stared out of their car windows in absolute astonishment and Commander Pott called out, ‘Hang on, everyone. For heaven’s sake hang on!’” Thus begins the family’s adventures. As Commander Pott says, “Never say ‘no’ to adventures. Always say ‘yes,’ otherwise you’ll lead a very dull life.” This amusing tale is written by the creator of James Bond.
The Phantom Tollbooth
by Norman Juster
A surprise package for Milo turns out to be a mysterious tollbooth that opens the way to an unusual land with places like the Doldrums where “laughter is frowned upon and smiling is permitted only on alternate Thursdays.” He encounters strange characters like “the Whether Man, not the Weather Man, for after all it’s more important to know whether there will be weather than what the weather will be.” Fortunately, Milo soon acquires a companion named Tock, a watchdog who has the body of a clock. Children will enjoy the silliness and adults will enjoy the puns.
Harriet the Spy
by Louise Fitzhugh
Long before social media and blogs made everything public, there were secrets heard through open windows. Harriet uses her trusty notebooks to record what she overhears throughout the neighborhood, her impressions of people, and her thoughts about life. “What is too old to have fun? You can’t be too old to spy except if you were fifty you might fall off a fire escape, but you could spy around on the ground a lot.” She takes her spy work seriously while offering unexpected insight and humor.
Rutland Free Library has all of these titles and many more books for people of all ages. When you remember back to your childhood, was there a particular book you enjoyed? What story would you like to share with a young person in your life?
Janet Clapp is an adult services librarian at Rutland Free Library.