Discover more from Read More Books
What to Read Next (No. 286): In Praise of Children's Literature
Happy Friday, readers!
Today I’m excited to bring you a children’s lit edition of the newsletter. In the last year or so, our oldest kiddo (Graham, 8 years old) has gotten into chapter books.
Mind-numbing board books and The Cat in the Hat can only be read so many times before your brain starts to leak out of your skull.
Suffice it to say, getting into books with more depth has made our family’s pre-bedtime read-aloud routine far more enjoyable.
Whether appreciating the artwork and simplified storytelling of an award-winning picture book, learning the science of our crazy world, or digesting a powerful life lesson from a chapter book, this phase of reading has been more rewarding than I expected.
Classic children’s books aren’t just for kids. With the proper framing, readers of any age can come to cherish this underappreciated genre.
Let’s take a look at a few of our family’s recent favorites. And don’t forget to drop me a note in the comments with the kid’s lit titles that have stuck with you — whether from your own childhood or from more recent experiences.
Children's Book-A-Day Almanac by Anita Silvey
Our family was gifted this book by one of Jane’s patients and it’s been a delight to go through this treasury of both well-known classics and lesser-known diamonds in the rough.
Each day of the year gets its own page that highlights a different children’s book, introducing the author, providing a bit of backstory, and giving us a few reasons as to why this particular title makes for a timeless read regardless of age. The books span an impressive range of genres, formats, and target audiences.
We’ve made a lot of library requests from the pages of the Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac. Graham actually made me take a brief pause because we ended up with a tall stack of unread titles. Chapter books like The Lightning Thief and See How They Run have been as enjoyable as expected, but even classic picture books like Jumanji and the works of David Wiesner have been surprisingly fun to flip through.
This almanac is a gold mine and I can’t recommend it highly enough if you have young kids or an affinity for children’s lit yourself.
A Wrinkle in Time (Graphic Novel) by Madeliene L’Engle
I read A Wrinkle in Time for the first time a couple of years ago and was very moved by the timeless, heartwarming story. Sure, it was weird and bizarre at times, but the ultimate message that love always wins really stuck with me. L’Engle painted a number of unforgettable scenes that I only thought more about as time went on — always a good sign.
So when I saw there was a graphic novel version of this children’s classic, I knew I had to check it out — and hoped that Graham would be interested enough to read it with me. He was hooked from the start and we both loved it. Hope Larson’s somber-toned illustrations made those unforgettable scenes come alive in an even more powerful way.
After Graham and I read it together, A Wrinkle in Time instantly cemented itself as one of our favorite shared reading experiences. If you’ve never this 1962 time-traveling fantasy adventure, you’re missing out.
DK Children’s Anthologies
DK’s anthologies for kids were yet another recommendation from a patient of Jane’s — the same one who gifted us the almanac above. (She’s a real gem.) We knew these books would be good, but I’m not sure we expected to be hooked from the first page we read together.
Each two-page spread features a gorgeously illustrated or photographed plant/animal and then gives a paragraph or two about what makes it totally weird and unique.
We started with An Anthology of Aquatic Life, quickly moved to The Wonders of Nature, and are now eagerly awaiting The Book of Mythical Beasts and Magical Creatures from the library. There are a number of titles in this series; be sure to check ‘em all out.
What I most appreciate about the DK anthologies is how broadly enjoyable they are. The 2-year-old in the family is drawn to the vibrant imagery (everyone is, really), the 5- and 8-year-old can understand the quirky facts, and the prose is well-written and entertaining enough to keep the adults’ attention — it’s not the watered-down language that you often find in non-fiction kids’ books.
DK’s Children’s Anthologies are a fun diversion for every kind of reader, but I especially recommend them for any curious kiddo or adult who does a lot of reading to kids.
That’s all for me this week! Thanks so much for reading. I deeply appreciate the time and inbox space.