I have had a lifelong love affair with books. As an only child, books were a way to escape the dreary boring days at home when no one else was around to play. Books had a way of taking me far away from my bedroom into magical lands with fantastic beasts and interesting people I could never meet when I was stuck at home. As an adult now, I still get that wonderful rush when I pick up a new book, holding my breath to see what adventure awaits me on the next page. I am hoping to cultivate this same love of reading and books in my children as they grow; books simply are the best place for a child’s imagination to go. As Drake and Juliet move from board books to picture books to eventually chapter books and short fiction stories, I hope to be able to introduce them to some of my favorite characters that filled my own childhood. I have collected a few stories that I cant wait to share with them one day when they are older.
The Harry Potter Series – Say what you will about Harry Potter, but J.K. Rowling can craft a story like no other. I didn’t get into Harry Potter until I was well in my twenties, but it still is one of the best stories I have ever read. Mr. Chocolate, who was a huge Harry naysayer for many years, lost a bet with me one time and had to read one of the Harry books because of it. He picked book 5, the latest one out at the time, and got so engulfed in the series that he went back and read the entire thing from start to finish. He told me he had originally only planned on reading a chapter or two to pay lip service to the bet and then go on trashing the series to me, until he discovered the magic that is these books. Shortly after Drake’s birth I found him re-reading the series one day. I asked him why, and he told me he was trying to figure out how to do the voices of the characters so one day when Drake was old enough, he could read the books to him complete with voices and noise effects. If you have never read the series I urge you to try — it is so much more than a children’s story in every sense.
The Phantom Tollbooth – This was one of my favorite books growing up. The story is about a boy named Milo who was bored all the time (sound familiar) and one day received a toll booth as a gift to help with his boredom. A quick trip past the tollbooth and he enters a magical world where he meets a cast of characters including a dog named Tock, the not so wicked Witch and eventually goes on a mission to save the 2 princesses, Rhyme and Reason. The book is filled with zany and interesting illustrations to help shape the cast of incredible characters and lands Milo attends (my favorite was the feast where they literally eat the words they produce). This helped me pass many a lazy afternoon and I can’t wait to dive back into the world of Dictionopolis and Digitopolis
Bridge to Terabithia – Another story that helped me while away my lonely afternoon days. How I longed for a secret place to be with friends and to always feel accepted and loved just like Jess and Leslie did. I remember crying in my room as the book came to an end; it resonated so deeply with me the idea of friendship and loss. I imagine I will tear up again when I revisit this wonderful story.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret – I discovered this book during one of my nannying jobs when I read the story with one of the children I was watching. It is hard to describe this book except to say that it is magic. Most of the book is meticulous drawing with some interspersed words to help with dialogue. The story focuses on Hugo, the boy who turns the clocks in the train station and stumbles upon a marvelous creation. Partially based on a real invention, this book is amazing in both its story telling and the way it does it (with the pictures). I highly recommend his other book done in the same format, Wonderstruck, which is also remarkable. But nothing can top Hugo in my mind.
Charlotte’s Web – I don’t think I have ever met anyone who doesn’t know the story of Wilbur the famous pig and his dear friend Charlotte the spider. A timeless classic for a reason, it’s a story of true friendship and the bonds of love that go on even after we are gone. I remember reading this one out loud as I started to learn to read myself.
The Trumpet of the Swan – From the same author of Charlotte’s Web, this is the delightful story of Louis the swan who is mute. With the aid of his parents and a local boy named Sam, Louis learns to write, play the trumpet, and eventually travels around playing his trumpet, eating watercress sandwiches in fancy hotels, and wooing the love his life the beautiful Serena swan. A delightfully charming story that illustrates just because life hands you difficulties doesn’t mean you need to accept them as limitations. I hope Drake and Juliet enjoy this one in particular.
The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe– While the Narnia books are all lovely reads, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe is the stand out in the series. A magic wardrobe leads the Pevensive children into a world where a White Witch has frozen the land. Together with the Great Lion Aslan they battle her and her minions learning about love, family, and sacrifice. If you are familiar with either C. S. Lewis or have seen the movie put out a few years ago you will see the strong connection in Christianity in the story.
Are there any books that you can’t wait to share with your children?