We haven’t reminisced in a couple of weeks. What say we remember the books we enjoyed long ago, either as children or as parents to our children, nieces or nephews?
The best children’s books range from inane and singsong-y to eloquently poetic, from plain and shallow mush to profound allegory. I believe they all can produce lasting childhood memories.
I confess, I never did get the ever-popular Goodnight Moon. Oh, we had it—two copies—but I just didn’t get it. Still don’t. I’ve got nothing against Margaret Wise Brown, but The Runaway Bunny was more up my alley. I loved the images of the mother bunny convincing her baby that he’d never get away from her. When the baby bunny decided that running away was futile (because he had a stalker for a Mom, perhaps?), the book ended with the mother Bunny simply saying, “Have a carrot.”
My mother read to me a lot. One book I fondly remember being read to me was Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book. The words are typical Seuss – rhythmic and rhyming and clever enough, I suppose, which is fine because his illustrations stand on their own. He could draw a yawn, droopy eyelid or a happy head on a fluffy pillow so vividly that young readers such as I could barely stay awake to the end. I had forgotten how many of the illustrations I had remembered until I read the Sleep Book to my son. Even then I would nod off. In fact, I think I’ll move the copy I just dug up from the basement to my nightstand. You might want to do the same. Buy it if you have to; it’s better than Ambien.
Other children’s books I enjoyed reading to my son were Bill Martin, Jr.’s and Eric Carle’s Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? (I hear a hippopotamus snorting in my ear) and Bears in the Night by Stan and Jan Berenstain. Do you know it? It’s not only extremely suspenseful but full of prepositions: Under the bridge, Around the lake, Between the rocks, Through the woods, Out of the window, Down the tree, Over the wall, Under the bridge, Around the lake, Between the rocks, Through the woods, Up Spook Hill! Whoooo!
Not surprisingly, my son and I, both shoe freaks, wore out our copy of Shoes by Elizabeth Winthrop. He called it “Shoes by Elizabeth Winthrop.”
My son had more children’s books than any child I know. While he bought two Shel Silversteins with his own money, his favorite was still Go, Dog, Go! by P.D. Eastman. Do you like my hat? I do not like that hat. Good bye. Good bye. If ever you thought children’s books could be appreciated at face value and not overanalyzed for hidden meanings, think again. Go to a website called Goodreads, scroll down to Community Reviews and see the existential side of Go, Dog, Go!
I’ll close with a ditty from another favorite, Ride a Purple Pelican by Jack Prelutsky, whose poetry is unparalleled, at least on the bookcase in our basement.
One day in Oklahoma on a dusty country road
I heard a handsome ermine serenade a rosy toad,
I saw a hungry rabbit munch on lettuce à la mode
One day in Oklahoma on a dusty country road.
I could go on and on but why don’t you join me? Favorite books? Favorite passages? Favorite memories of reading as a child? Was there one book you didn’t care for but your child always wanted to read?
10 responses to “Bedtime reading”
OK…Goodnight Moon just might be my all time favorite book. The words are so soothing. If politicians and world leaders would just read it every night, perhaps we would have world peace!
Robert Lewis Stevenson – The Swing. Great poem.
And To Think That It Happened on Mulberry Street – Dr. Seuss
As a tween I read everything Beverly Cleary ever wrote. She was my Judy Blume.
All time classic line is from Go Dog Go.
“Do you like my hat?” “No I do not.” “Goodbye.” “Goodbye.”
Well then be sure to read what commenters said about the meaning of “Do you like my hat?” in the link I posted within the piece. Hilarious.
OMG, what a wonderful site! And, yes, I have to add that “Go Dog Go” was another big hit for our family. I’ve lost count of how many copies I’ve bought for other folks’ kids over the years.
But it’s kinda sad when I exclaim, “It’s a dog party! A big dog party!” and my friends don’t get it.
There’s too many kids in this tub.
There’s too many elbows to scrub.
I just washed a behind
That I’m sure wasn’t mine,
There’s too many kids in this tub.
Also: Mr Rabbit and the Lovely Present has some lines my sisters and I say to this day. (comment box won’t let me italicize the title!)
Bedtime for Frances, by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Garth Williams, is probably the Ward family favorite. Just a few weeks ago I reminded Mom that her job was to go to sleep.
Garth Williams also illustrated Ride a Purple Pelican.
Kids and grandkids were/are big on Are You My Mother? in addition to the ones already mentioned. Also Blueberries for Sal. Later, Charlotte’s Web of course. We are staying near EB White’s old home In Maine, with the barn in the back, where the idea for Charlotte was born. The people that live here now have probably reported me as a stalker!
My parents read me “big books” as a child, so I’d have to wait for the next chapter and anticipate bedtime.
I love, love a scene near the end of the movie “Wit,” where the main character (played by Emma Thompson) is dying and her mentor (Eileen Atkins) reads “The Runaway Bunny” to her–and finds the deeper meaning in the book.
Garth Williams is one of my favorite illustrators, and his drawings have a soothing quality. See “Bedtime for Frances,” the Little House books, and “The Kitten Who Thought He Was a Mouse.”
Possibly too stimulating for bedtime, but some of our favorite read-aloud books were “The Stinky Cheese Man” and the Wayside School series.
I vividly remember The Sleepy Bunny –and recently found it online:
As for our house — anything Richard Scarry, anything Shel Silverstein (especially The Giving Tree and The Missing Piece) and anything Seuss.
Harold and the Purple Crayon and Olivia books are our favorite new choices. And have you listened to Sandra Boynton (Philadelphia Chickens, Blue Moo, Dog Train)? She has music cd’s w/ books for kids.