Children's Books: An Exchange Of Ideas

Thursday, November 19, 2009

(image from cookie magazine)

Opening my Inbox to find a group email, addressed to masses of women, usually elicits an inward (and sometimes audible) groan.  

I appreciate the sentiment that prompts friends to include me when they reach out, but, at the risk of offending, let me go on the record:
  • I do not now, nor will I ever, wear a purple hat, no matter how old I become;
  • I realize that we kids who were raised in the '70s did crazy things, like running with scissors, and survived (frankly, I think it's a miracle);
  • I already check under my car (and in my back-seat, and in my closet, and under the bed, and behind every door) for would-be assailants - my paranoia does not need to be fed; 
  • If I want to cry, I can just look at my ironing pile; and, finally,
  • I will break the chain.  
That said, last week I received a truly inspired group email from my clever friend Melinda.

She loves to give books as presents (a girl after my own heart) and, with Christmas shopping in mind, she proposed an exchange of kid-tested, mother-approved reading recommendations among friends, to make the choosing easier.  

The reponses came fast and furious.  

In some cases, the reply was a refreshingly frank admission to having children don't read at all, unless you count dirt bike magazines and the sports page (which I do).  

Others responses testified to the enduring appeal of children's classics by authors such Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl.

Still more were made up entirely of  titles that were new to me.  

In some cases, this was a function of the cross-cultural experience.  My own childhood reading was firmly shaped by the American Library Association.  Consequently, as with The Famous Five, many titles that qualify as old favorites among Australian and English readers have been exciting discoveries for me.  And it's now difficult to imagine my children's childhood without them.  

Thank you to all the ladies - and kids - who responded to Melinda's call.  A sampling of their recommendations follows.  

For more ideas, visit my friend Jane's new blog; she contributed several of the entries below and has brilliant suggestions, especially if you have boys in the 5-8 range.

What were your favorites as a child?  What are your own children reading - and loving - now? 

I would love to hear what you are reading/giving this holiday season.

Picture Books
Gruffalo and Room On The Broom, both by Julia Donaldson and Axel Schaeffer.  The rhyming is the key.  Wonderful pictures and lots of opportunity to use silly voices.

Pearlie The Pink Fairy series by Wendy Harmer.  Fun pictures in chapter book format, about an  Australian fairy who lives in a park and says ‘Hurly Burly’ a lot. 

My friend Bear by Jez Alborough – another  lovely rhyming one.  

Busy Busy World - or any other title - by Richard Scary.  Hint: hunting for Lowly Worm on every page is a good game. 

The Fancy Nancy series by Jane O'Connor.  In the tradition of Eloise and Olivia, Nancy is a glamour queen surrounded by her not-fancy family.  Especially for girls, age 5-7.

The Winnie The Witch series by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul.  Funny stories and detailed, wacky illustrations.  Fun for young listeners and early readers, age 3-8.

Chapter Books  
The Squeak Street series by Emily Rodda and Andrew McLean.  Easy-t0-read chapter books about mice who live on Squeak Street.  For readers aged 5-7.

The Flat Stanely series by Jeff Brown.  A boy gets flattened by a falling picture board and has great adventures as a result of being so thin.  Especially for boys, aged 5-7.  

The Naughtiest Girl series by Enid Blyton.  This one came up more than once.  Ideal for girls who are ready to move on from fairies, but boys like them, too.  Who doesn't like reading about someone else's naughtiness?  Age 8, or thereabouts.  

The Dragon Blood Pirates series - Tales of pirates and treasure, with a bit of time travel thrown in.  What's not to love?Recommended especially for boys, age 8, or thereabouts. 

Young Bond series by Charlie Higson.  Exciting stories, with the additional bonus of a website that includes reading-based quiz games (ie you have to ready carefully to win the game).  Recommended especially for boys, age 11, or thereabouts.   

The Horrid Henry series by Francesca Simon.  More naughtiness - do you sense a theme?!  I plan on trying these out - particularly the Early Readers - with my sons this summer.  It's fun to see them act virtuous and appalled in the face of someone else's horrid behavior.  Recommended especially for boys, age 8.  

The BGF by Roald Dahl.  Again, Roald Dahl accounted for an impressive percentage of the responses.  This one is a hit with boys, girls and parents alike.  All ages.

The Just series - Just KiddingJust Disgusting, Just Shocking - by Andy Griffiths.  Especially good for boys, age 7-10.  

The Maxx Rumble books by Michael Wagner, with illustrations by Terry Denton. These feature an endless series of cricket matches and very wry humour.  Suitable for cricket fans, age 7-8.

The Magic Thief (Books 1 & 2) by Sarah Prineas.  Magic, wizards, secrets.  Fun for the whole family.  Age 7+.

Born To Run by Michael Morpurgo.  Brilliant, heartbreaking, lovely.  About the many lives of one incredible dog.  Have the tissues ready.  For older children, aged 10 +.

The Dragon Keeper triology by Carole Wilkinson.  Fantasy, history and personal courage woven together to form a story you can't put down.  Especially for girls aged 9+.

The Silver Brumby series by Elaine Mitchell.  An oldie, but a goodie.  Set in Victoria's Snowy Mountains, this is horse lover's delight.  

The Gypsy Crown by Kate Forsyth.  This is the first in a series of six.  It follows the adventures of two gypsy children on a quest and fleeing persecution in 17th century England.  Gripping.  For readers aged 10 +.

The Slightly True Story Of Cedar B Hartley (who planned to live an unusual life) by Martine Murray.  Award winning story of a quirky twelve-year old girl finding her place in the world.  For children aged 10 +.


Post a Comment

We LOVE comments. Fire Away!


© Eating The Daisies All rights reserved . Design by Blog Milk Powered by Blogger