I'm all for getting kids reading. It was one of my favorite activities when I was young, and I used to look forward to those summer trips to the library. I didn't let it faze me when my father would lean his head into my bedroom, telling me to go outside because "it's such a beautiful day out." What did I care? One day seemed pretty much like the next in summer, weather-wise. What really interested me was whether Jo would get her story published or if Wilbur would be spared.
Since "back-to-school" time will roll around before you know it, now's the time to get your kids hooked on books. A leisurely visit to the library is a great way to let them explore and find things that interest them on their own. And if this NY Times article is true, you'll want to avoid the IQ drop that kids experience when they're out of school for the summer. Since kids aren't exercising their brains, studies have found their IQ goes down, and it's especially true of children who aren't reading or enrolled in summer programs.
So get your kids away from the keyboard and the computer and get them reading! Here are some of my all-time favorite children's books:
1. Almost anything by Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel). His humor and originality turned me on to books. Period.
2. Charlotte's Web. I still find it nearly impossible to kill a spider, and Garth William's illustrations turn barnyard animals into a community of concerned citizens.
3. Stuart Little. Also written by E.B. White and illustrated by Garth Williams, the inventiveness of the tiny mouse is inspiring.
4. Black Beauty. A must-read for budding horse lovers everywhere.
5. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach. Roald Dahl's imagination is on overdrive in both of these classics, which are a revelation.
6. The Little House series. The adventures and trials of the Ingalls family teach a resilience and resourcefulness that never goes out of fashion.
7. Where the Wild Things Are. For very young children, the fantastical drawings are delightful.
8. Misty of Chincoteague. Along with Stormy, Misty's Foal, the Marguerite Henry books foster a love of animals and nature, and are manna for horse-crazy young girls.
9. The Nancy Drew mysteries. According to the NY Times article, these fun reads create Supreme Court justices. They're cited as favorites of Sandra Day O'Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Sonia Sotomayer.
10. Little Women. I read this book over and over, perhaps hoping that sweet Beth wouldn't die. It instills so many important values while telling a marvelous story: the importance of family, charity, and a love of learning.
11. A Story for Bear. A picture book about a curious bear who discovers the delights of reading. You'll fall in love with the enchanting illustrations by Jim LaMarche.
12. Pippi Longstocking. Whether she's visiting the South Seas or somewhere closer to home, Pippi inspires a love of travel and adventure with her nonconformist antics.
13. The Borrowers. You'll be dying to find out whether these inventive little people will be discovered.
14. Harriet the Spy. I actually started writing in a notebook and sent away for "see-behind" glasses after reading this book.
15. The Pigman. For pre-teen readers, a lovely parable about putting yourself in another's shoes.
16. The Outsiders and That Was Then, This is Now. For kids 12-14, S.E. Hinton's novels hold up and are still beloved for being an honest account of what it feels like to be on the outside looking in.
I've left so many out, but I've got to stop somewhere. Come to think of it, I'd like to reread some of these...
What are your favorite children's books? Please respond in the Comments section.