1. The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Somebody gave me the copy I still have today in my apartment in NYC when I was about 8 years old. I just flipped through it and it is decorated with years of highlighting and notes. I adore the Little Prince. It’s wildly imaginative, and the simple writing runs deeper and deeper with each reading. It makes me laugh and cry and the illustrations can’t be beat. My favorite line: “It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”
2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
I remember checking this out of the Miami Dade Public Library repeatedly. Or not even bothering to check it out at all, but just curling up in a library nook and getting lost in Charlie’s adventure for a whole afternoon. I so wanted a golden ticket. This is one instance where the movie does not disappoint, too, which makes me so happy.
3. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
This book presented itself at the exact moment in this pre-teen’s life when it was most needed — junior high on the horizon. I remember crawling into my mom’s bed to ask her to explain periods after being confused by an episode in the book. I consider Judy Blume a key figure in my childhood.
4. The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein
This week’s episode of Friday Night Lights was called The Giving Tree because of a frustrating one-sided relationship between two of the characters. I like how the language subtly shifts from I “want” to I “need” by the time the little kid is old and lonely. After all, what do we really “need” in life?
5. Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
I wanted to “make mischief!” I wanted to be “King of All the Wild Things!” I so want Spike Jonze’s movie version later this year to capture this complete and total essence of being a kid.
1. The Serendipity Collection
This isn’t really one book, but a collection of books put out by a husband and wife team in the late 70s/early 80s. These were my Dr. Seuss books. I remember reading these more than the Dr. In fact, I still have a bunch of them. These books were usually about an animal or fantasy creature and taught a moral lesson relating to children, such as making friends, controlling your temper, or feeling left out. My personal fave was probably either Leo the Lop or Catundra, the latter being a story about an overweight cat.
2. Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell
This is the one book I remember my mom reading to me as a kid. I think I talked to my mom one time about this book as an adult and she proceed to tell me a different version of my childhood with this book. My childhood memories always conflict with how my mom remembers things. I trust her memories more than my own, though. Anyways…this is a great tale of a young girl being stranded on an island by herself for 18 years. It’s a great book to read to daughters, because the young girl of this story is a very strong female character. It also tells of the evils of the white man (shocker). Interestingly, I found this article on Jezebel about it.
3. Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein
Shel Silverstein was one weird dude. I love him. Unfortunately, his poems on nail biters and nose pickers never did deter me away from doing either as a kid.
4. Bunnicula, by Deborah and James How
Of course this makes my list. I combines two of my favorites, woodland creatures and vampires. Duh.
5. Jenny and the Cat Club, by Ester Averill
This one I discovered as an adult. Adorable stories about an little black cat that has a sailor for an owner and live in Greenwich Village. I’ve gotten so many tattoo ideas from this book. It has the cutest illustrations.
1. Jolly Little Postman, by Janet & Allan Ahlberg
I still love this book, with actual letters–sent from one fairy tale or Mother Goose character to anothe–tucked into every other page. The tiny details of this book are amazing and I remember spending hours exploring it.
2. Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein
More than any other author, Silverstein was such a big part of my childhood. I remember my mom reading me poems from this book. One of his pieces was the first thing I had to memorize and recite. I remember acting out “The Homework Machine,” complete with a robot-like homework machine costume I built, in the fifth grade. The Giving Tree, still makes me sad. I also remember being shocked that the ‘bald-headed kind of scary looking guy’ on the back of the cover really wrote all these whimsy poems. My favorite: “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take The Garbage Out.”
3. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle
My most favorite illustrations are Eric Carle’s. Maybe he was the reason for my obession with collages and paper mache as a kid?
4. Beezus and Ramona, by Beverly Cleary
This book kicked off a much-loved series and long line of other series I became obsessed with (Superfudge, Little House of the Prairie, The Babysitters Club, Nancy Drew). Next up:Ramona and Beezus, the movie–can’t wait!
5. Sideways Stories from Wayside School, by Lous Sachar
Another series, written in a short-story format, that introduced to me books that were funny and offbeat–not everything had to be linear or really make sense.