Children's Books

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Children's Books

Post by eselle28 on Fri Jul 22, 2016 2:22 am

I'm not a parent, but I am an aunt who likes to give books. I'm approaching a book-giving event and have picked out a few already, but it occurred to me that there are at least a few people here who either have children themselves or buy books for them and might have recommendations to share! I'm thinking mostly of books meant to be read by children, whether babies or teens, and not so much YA that mostly appeals to adult audiences (though that would be a great topic in its own right!).

I'll start with a couple that I've given to my 3-year-old niece and that have been well-received by her, her parents, and various other folks who've gotten a reading time slot (there are lots of reading time slots, as my niece seems to have inherited the bookworm trait from her mother, me, my mother, and some other extended family members):

A newer one:

Rosie Revere, Engineer: This is a story about a young inventor who, with the help of an older mentor, learns about half-steps in the creative process. Her first attempt at a flying machine crashed - but before that, it flew! This one is easy to read aloud - it rhymes, but not in a tongue-twisting way, and it has a moderate amount of words. The illustrations are lovely but not really the type to interest a child in the, "Can you point at the lion?" stage. It's good for toddlers old enough to like stories with a beginning, middle, and end. I also suspect it would work well for babies too young to interact with what's being read to them, as its fairly conventional story arc is much more tolerable for adults.

An older one:

Yikes, I gave my poor niece several terrible books because I remembered them fondly from my own childhood. I don't regret giving her Corduroy. It's a super cute story about a teddy bear on sale in a department store who isn't bought because he's missing a button and goes exploring looking for it. It has a nice lesson about not needing to be perfect to make friends and not needing your friends to be perfect either. Also, in a completely low key and unementioned way, the only humans of importance in the story are a black girl and her mother. This one goes pretty well with kids from infancy to age three, and is both easy to read and has things to point to in it.

Does anyone have any books they'd recommend? I haven't talked much about grade school books, since I haven't read any since I was that age myself, but no reason people can't talk about those either.


Last edited by eselle28 on Fri Jul 22, 2016 3:24 am; edited 2 times in total
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Re: Children's Books

Post by Guest on Fri Jul 22, 2016 2:55 am

eselle28 wrote:
An older one:

Yikes, I gave my poor niece several terrible books because I remembered them fondly from my own childhood. I don't regret giving her Corduroy. It's a super cute story about a teddy bear on sale in a department store who isn't bought because he's missing a button and goes exploring looking for it. It has a nice lesson about not needing to be perfect to make friends and not needing your friends to be perfect either. Also, in a completely low key and unementioned way, the only humans of importance in the story are a black girl and her mother. This one goes pretty well with kids from infancy to age three, and is both easy to read and has things to point to in it.

Does anyone have any books they'd recommend? I haven't talked much about grade school books, since I haven't read any since I was that age myself, but no reason people can't talk about those either.

Dag nabit. Corduroy, such a sweet lovely little book that makes me cry a little now as an adult. Crying But it is a great book for the kiddos!

I would recommend Shel Silverstein's books, probably The Giving Tree most of all for easy to understand life lessons about being appreciative of your parents or whatever deeper meaning you interpret/attach to it. Giving Tree may be a touch more advanced for little ones given how critically people have looked at that book despite it being a kids book. It's still a great book and worth reading despite all that! Also She's poetry is pretty silly. Razz

"'A genuine anteater,' the pet man told me dad. Turned out, it was an aunt eater, and now my uncle's mad!"

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Re: Children's Books

Post by bomaye on Fri Jul 22, 2016 2:58 am

The BFG and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory immediately come to mind. I guess they've both had movies recently though so those might be easy answers (I never watched either)

I remember being read The Indian in the Cupboard in Grades 2 and 3 buuuuuut that seems way not kosher anymore.
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Re: Children's Books

Post by Enail on Fri Jul 22, 2016 12:24 pm

Oh no, you've got me started! Run in circles flail

For very young/all ages:
-Dennis Lee's wonderfully silly poetry. My personal favourite is On Tuesdays I Polish My Uncle
-All the World, by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee. Beautiful art full of the kinds of details kids love to spot, and a nice rhythm for reading aloud.
-probably for the older end of the picture book crowd, any of Jon J. Muth's Zen series. Gentle, relateable retellings of classic zen stories and a quietly Buddhist take on everday kids' life, with the most gorgeous watercolour illustrations.
-Shark Vs. Train, Tom Lichtenheld and Chris Barton. Gloriously over-the-top silliness. My younger nephew was slightly distressed to learn that we now live in a world where trains eat pies, but my older nephew loved it.
-The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems, illustrated by Jackie Morris. Really lovely, richly coloured art and a great selection of accessible classic poems.

For Grade School:
-Pippi Longstockings. Exuberant, silly adventure, with one of the greatest characters ever, and surprisingly poignant at times. There's probably some old-fashioned style racism in here that I don't remember, though.
-Seconding BFG and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or almost anything by Roald Dahl (unfortunately, the sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, has some racist jokes, though. But it also has Vermicious Knids!)
-Chronicles of Narnia, of course! Maybe skip The Last Battle, though, and save a child from being traumatized by a disturbing ending and by weirdly bad writing. Uh-oh
-I would have thought E. Nesbit's books were too old-fashioned to stand up well these days, but my nephews really got into them. Start with Five Children and It.
-Zita the Space Girl, by Ben Hatke. This one's a graphic novel with a cute, energetic style and full of funny details.

For the 8-12ish crowd:
-The Prydain Chronicles, by Lloyd Alexander. This series is The Best, and is also the source of pretty much my entire moral code.
-The Dark Is Rising series, by Susan Cooper. The other The Best
-The True Meaning of Smekday, by Adam Rex. A hilarious sci fi road trip, probably the funniest kid's book I've seen since Hitchhiker's Guide (also, Hitchhiker's Guide Razz).
-Moribito, Guardian of the Spirit. An entertaining Japanese medieval fantasy series that's got an archetypal feel but with a fresh fantasy setting free of Tolkein-inspired cliches (Also, Tolkein, of course Razz)
-The Bartimaeus Trilogy, by Jonathan Stroud. A snarky, hilarious fantasy that's also full of excitement and real emotional impact. Also, best use of footnotes ever Shiny/thrilled
-Kenneth Oppel does great adventure stories in a variety of genres. His Silverwing series is good for an animal lover.

This may be falling into the YA that appeals to adults category, I don't know any kids old enough to test it out on, but Suzanne Collin's book series before The Hunger Games (ETA: A name might help  Headsmack It's The Overlander Chronicles, the first book is Gregor the Overlander)is amazing. It's more aimed at the middle grade crowd, but it gets really dark. REALLY dark. So I think it would probably work best with a Harry Potter style reading, starting the first one or two at 9-12 and growing into adolescence with them.

@Mikey: I hated the Giving Tree! Laughing But Shel Silverstein's poems are great!


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Re: Children's Books

Post by Guest on Sat Jul 23, 2016 12:10 pm

Enail wrote:
@Mikey: I hated the Giving Tree! Laughing But Shel Silverstein's poems are great!

Heh, yeah a lot of people don't like Giving Tree. Razz It made me cry and not many books can do that for me, so props to it. Laughing And yes, a lot of Shel's poetry albeit simple, is very good.

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Re: Children's Books

Post by eselle28 on Tue Aug 02, 2016 2:00 am

The Mikey wrote:Dag nabit. Corduroy, such a sweet lovely little book that makes me cry a little now as an adult. Crying But it is a great book for the kiddos!

It's probably one of the best-received ones I've encountered. Most parents like it. Most kids like it. I can get it being poignant for an adult - there's a lot of longing there - but I think the positive resolution ties up a lot of the loose ends and that the book finishes by being reassuring. I can pick apart the message with, "Well, no, not all of us..." as an adult, but it's also a book where I can just read it for what it is and be cheery at the end for the way those characters' story ended up working out.


The Mikey wrote:I would recommend Shel Silverstein's books, probably The Giving Tree most of all for easy to understand life lessons about being appreciative of your parents or whatever deeper meaning you interpret/attach to it. Giving Tree may be a touch more advanced for little ones given how critically people have looked at that book despite it being a kids book. It's still a great book and worth reading despite all that! Also She's poetry is pretty silly. Razz

"'A genuine anteater,' the pet man told me dad. Turned out, it was an aunt eater, and now my uncle's mad!"


Enail wrote:@Mikey: I hated the Giving Tree! But Shel Silverstein's poems are great!

I'll admit to being with Enail on The Giving Tree. At minimum, I think it's a really heavy read for the reader and tends to make them dwell on either the difficulty of being a parent or on other relationships (I don't actually think that kids mind darker messages in literature, but with little kids' stuff, I sometimes think that reader's reaction matters too, since it's a shared experience). I love Silverstein's poetry, though! I've already gotten my niece a copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends, and it's already gotten a little dog-eared. It was lovely to read when she was very little. I suspect it will come back into heavier rotation when she can read for herself a bit too.

On that note:
Enail wrote:
For very young/all ages:
-Dennis Lee's wonderfully silly poetry. My personal favourite is On Tuesdays I Polish My Uncle
-All the World, by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee. Beautiful art full of the kinds of details kids love to spot, and a nice rhythm for reading aloud.
-probably for the older end of the picture book crowd, any of Jon J. Muth's Zen series. Gentle, relateable retellings of classic zen stories and a quietly Buddhist take on everday kids' life, with the most gorgeous watercolour illustrations.
-Shark Vs. Train, Tom Lichtenheld and Chris Barton. Gloriously over-the-top silliness. My younger nephew was slightly distressed to learn that we now live in a world where trains eat pies, but my older nephew loved it.
-The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems, illustrated by Jackie Morris. Really lovely, richly coloured art and a great selection of accessible classic poems.

I forgot about poetry, in part because my niece at 3 is very into books that have a story! But I also remember that poetry was a great hit when she was very young and responded to rhythm and the fact that someone was speaking to her above all, and when my sister needed something to do quite badly while holding her. I'm sorry for the long delay in this reply (life's been kind of...complex...recently), but I laughed enough at On Tuesdays I Polish My Uncle that I ended up reading some of Lee's other work and ended up buying a copy of Alligator Pie for the new baby! I think it will be fun to read to them, and that big sister will like it too.

I've bookmarked the others and am especially going to be checking out Shark Vs. Train. There's a bit of a train obsession going around that house, and not just with the youngest member, and I'm always looking for alternatives that are fun and aren't...well...related to a certain harmless TV series that everyone else looks to when giving gifts. The others sound interesting too - thanks!


Enail wrote:For Grade School:
-Pippi Longstockings. Exuberant, silly adventure, with one of the greatest characters ever, and surprisingly poignant at times. There's probably some old-fashioned style racism in here that I don't remember, though.
-Seconding BFG and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or almost anything by Roald Dahl (unfortunately, the sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, has some racist jokes, though. But it also has Vermicious Knids!)
-Chronicles of Narnia, of course! Maybe skip The Last Battle, though, and save a child from being traumatized by a disturbing ending and by weirdly bad writing.
-I would have thought E. Nesbit's books were too old-fashioned to stand up well these days, but my nephews really got into them. Start with Five Children and It.
-Zita the Space Girl, by Ben Hatke. This one's a graphic novel with a cute, energetic style and full of funny details. -I would have thought E. Nesbit's books were too old-fashioned to stand up well these days, but my nephews really got into them. Start with Five Children and It.

Narnia is almost 100% guaranteed to come to the kiddos by way of parents or godparents. I'm not the best giver of that one - I came to it late enough to read the whole series in one go, and for The Last Battle to kind of do a number on me. It's admittedly good reading, though, and reading that I think a lot of kids will really love. Pippi's an interesting one, for sure, and I want to remember her if only for The Toast's take on her. I not entirely surprised E. Nesbit still holds up. I mean, it was obviously from the past when I read it, but I think it has that fairy tale vibe that doesn't get so stuck in time. Zita the Space Girl is new to me - interesting! I also remember liking The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Hero and the Crown when I was reading school age books, though I don't know if any of those work well for modern kids.


Enail wrote:For the 8-12ish crowd:
-The Prydain Chronicles, by Lloyd Alexander. This series is The Best, and is also the source of pretty much my entire moral code.
 
Absolutely The Best, and one of the ones I'm most glad I encountered as a child.

Enail wrote:-The True Meaning of Smekday, by Adam Rex. A hilarious sci fi road trip, probably the funniest kid's book I've seen since Hitchhiker's Guide (also, Hitchhiker's Guide ).
-Moribito, Guardian of the Spirit. An entertaining Japanese medieval fantasy series that's got an archetypal feel but with a fresh fantasy setting free of Tolkein-inspired cliches (Also, Tolkein, of course )
-The Bartimaeus Trilogy, by Jonathan Stroud. A snarky, hilarious fantasy that's also full of excitement and real emotional impact. Also, best use of footnotes ever
-Kenneth Oppel does great adventure stories in a variety of genres. His Silverwing series is good for an animal lover.

I haven't read...any of these. Part of me is, "Huh? How'd that happen?" and part of me has the old, "Ooh, new things to read!" impulse! It looks like I just plain old missed The Dark is Rising, which was out when I was at the age to read it, but the others sound newly fascinating. I adore Hitchhiker's Guide, so The True Meaning of Smekday goes right to the top of the list. Moribito sounds particularly interesting...and Silverwing has bats in it? Yes, checking that out for my own interest. I like bats.

bomaye wrote:The BFG and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory immediately come to mind. I guess they've both had movies recently though so those might be easy answers (I never watched either)

Oh, I loved Roald Dahl when I was a child! I haven't seen the most recent movies, but my feeling is that he never translated well to film. His stuff was always a little dark, in the way that I think that school age kids kind of enjoy and teenagers end up enjoying in even greater quantities. It always seems to get sort of watered down when it goes on screen, and I don't know if the imagination translates all that well, either. Still, the books themselves are awesome.


bomaye wrote:I remember being read The Indian in the Cupboard in Grades 2 and 3 buuuuuut that seems way not kosher anymore.

We read that aloud in school, along with its next sequel, so I have a copy of it at home. I liked it at the time, but I glanced through the book about five years ago when living in my old childhood room because it was on my shelf, and it's not the kind of thing that ages well. Like, not even in a "let's overlook all the offensive stuff and try to concentrate on the fun of the story" sort of way.
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Re: Children's Books

Post by Enail on Tue Aug 02, 2016 12:29 pm

eselle28 wrote:
Narnia is almost 100% guaranteed to come to the kiddos by way of parents or godparents. I'm not the best giver of that one - I came to it late enough to read the whole series in one go, and for The Last Battle to kind of do a number on me. It's admittedly good reading, though, and reading that I think a lot of kids will really love. Pippi's an interesting one, for sure, and I want to remember her if only for The Toast's take on her. I not entirely surprised E. Nesbit still holds up. I mean, it was obviously from the past when I read it, but I think it has that fairy tale vibe that doesn't get so stuck in time. Zita the Space Girl is new to me - interesting! I also remember liking The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Hero and the Crown when I was reading school age books, though I don't know if any of those work well for modern kids.

I think my nephews read The Mixed Up Files and liked it, so that one at least has a modern success. I think A Wrinkle in Time would, but I suspect the sequels wouldn't. I don't remember The Hero and the Crown clearly enough to say. But I hope so!


I haven't read...any of these. Part of me is, "Huh? How'd that happen?" and part of me has the old, "Ooh, new things to read!" impulse! It looks like I just plain old missed The Dark is Rising, which was out when I was at the age to read it, but the others sound newly fascinating. I adore Hitchhiker's Guide, so The True Meaning of Smekday goes right to the top of the list. Moribito sounds particularly interesting...and Silverwing has bats in it? Yes, checking that out for my own interest. I like bats.

True Meaning of Smekday and Moribito both aren't that well known. Although they actually released a movie loosely based on Smekday, Home, but the trailer did not give me the impression that it did a good job of capturing the humour or the weirdness.


bomaye wrote:I remember being read The Indian in the Cupboard in Grades 2 and 3 buuuuuut that seems way not kosher anymore.

We read that aloud in school, along with its next sequel, so I have a copy of it at home. I liked it at the time, but I glanced through the book about five years ago when living in my old childhood room because it was on my shelf, and it's not the kind of thing that ages well. Like, not even in a "let's overlook all the offensive stuff and try to concentrate on the fun of the story" sort of way.

Really? Aw man! I hate it when that happens.
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