I don’t know about you, but I pretty much only read children’s books. And romances and mysteries. I minored in English in college and read a fair number of “real” books, and then I graduated and could read whatever I wanted and decided that about age 14 is the reading level that makes me happy. Reading should be fun! I don’t want to read An Unsuitable Boy, I want to read Betsy-Tacy! Anyway, tell me your favorite children’s books that you read as a kid/read to your kids/read now as an adult because reading has no rules.
I’ll give you my top 5 as a child:
Railway Children: All Nesbit books are good and I have read them all, but this one is something special. The way it flows together the day to day happy life of childhood with a child’s vague awareness that something is really really wrong in their world is just lovely. Also, TRAINS!
Betsy-Tacy: I just gobbled these books up. I can remember rushing through quizzes in 3rd grade because if I finished early I could read my book while the other kids finished. SO GOOD!!! The high school ones were a little scary and stressful to my 8 year old brain, but I grew into them.
Sue Barton: EMILY! This is another redheaded heroine for you!!!!! It’s a nursing series like Cherry Ames, but better (I think). Our heroine goes through nursing school, then works in the inner city as a visiting nurse, than in rural areas as a visiting nurse, then founds her own nursing school, then is a very busy wife and mother who volunteers her nursing skills, and finally returns to work in middle-age and is happy to test out her skills again. Also, bonus weird thing, the author was a professional nurse herself and also the long time partner of Rose Wilder Lane, the co-author of the Little House books. Lesbians! Writing books for children! It’s the best. (or, alternatively, they were just good friends who lived together for over a decade and planned to build a house together, the way good friends do)
Dragon Books/Patricia Wrede: Wrede has written a lot of fantasy novels, but her Dragon Book foursome is the most kid friendly and, I think, the funnest. It takes princess/dragon tropes and puts them on their head, and has wonderful characters like a sensible witch and an overly precise elf and (eventually) a young king who is more overworked and tired than heroic. Read the first one and you will immediately be in love with this world.
Janet Lambert/Penny Parrish Series: These are super popular books from the 30s-50s that went out of print and became hard to find. So when I was a kid, my library had like 2 of them, and I loved them and was frustrated because I couldn’t read the rest of the series. And then I went to grad school and discovered the magic of University WorldCat Interlibrary Loan. Yes, I made librarians at universities all over America dig out copies of obscure 1950s children’s books just for my own pleasure. I briefly considered writing a paper on them so it would feel less silly, and then didn’t bother. Anyway, you don’t have to do that, a wonderful publishing company has now bought up the rights and reissued all of them on kindle and paperback. They are great books about girls growing up, finding a career, and eventually finding love with someone who will be a true partner and fit into their lives, not just someone “romantic”.
What are your favorites? As an adult or as an child? And do you know any of the ones I listed above?