Today: Read on Memory Lane

MeatballsWe are compiling a list at work, featuring our “must read” books for kids, inspired by our own literary childhoods.  With Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (one of my all-time favorites) and Where the Wild Things Are hitting the theatres, now’s a great time to get nostalgic.

Here are a few picks from my list:

Anne of Green Gables collection, L.M. Montgomery: I wanted to be a red-headed orphan on PEI, with a kindred spirit living nearby and a dying adopted father whose last name sounded like custard.  Except for the orphan/dying parent part.  Actually, I didn’t really want red hair either. I devoured these books, one after another.  My sister and I watched the movies on PBS more times than I should admit.

Where the Sidewalk Ends, Shel Silverstein: I will not go to school today, said little Peggy Ann McKay.  I have the measles and the mumps, a gash, a rash, and purple bumps.  Memorized that bad larry in fourth grade.  Some things just stick.  My bank account number? Can’t remember it because that corner of my brain is occupied by various S.Silverstein poems.

Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe, Vera B. Williams: I took LeVar Burton’s word for it and checked this book out of the Boyden Library the week it was featured on Reading Rainbow.  The illustrations are perfect.

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg: I still daydream of being locked in the Met or the furniture collection at the MFA overnight, thanks to this awesome chapter book.

The Velveteen Rabbit, Margery Williams: I remember this book sending me into a spiraling six year old frenzy, worried that my having strep throat would result in all of our toys being burned in the back yard, only for them to come to life.  I think the coming to life part scared me more than the burning.  Regardless, TVR contains one of my most favorite exchanges of all time:

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

The Frog and Toad collection, Arnold Lobel:  Our maternal grandfather was short and had round cheeks.  His older brother was, and is, much taller, with a lean face.  Both looked good in earth tones.  These books, especially Frog and Toad Together, reminded me of Grandpa and Uncle Mac.  I still think they’d probably like sitting on a log, talking about the season, or swimming, or a lost button.

Frog_and_toad_cover[Frog and Toad photo via]

And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, Dr. Seuss; and Blueberries for Sal and Make Way for Ducklings, Robert McClosky: My dad had this awesome leather chair.  We’d still in his lap, while he read to us–these titles in particular, possibly hundreds of times–in the old house.  I’m very lucky my parents read to us as much as they did.

You can check them all out at your local library, or at by clicking here.  Happy Reading!  I’m off to pick up my first BPL card at our local branch.  Man/woman, I love this city.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Go for a run, but avoid that creepy street I mistakenly ran down last week
  • Make some soup!

What were your favorite books growing up?  And for those of you who, like me, loved Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, what’s up with the 3D animation?  I wish the movie looked more like the book… sigh.  OK.  Bye!

26 thoughts on “Today: Read on Memory Lane

  1. As a children’s writer, I am so glad to a blog featuring children’s books (I realize this isn’t always what you feature) on the WordPress homepage! You have some great titles here. I loved Charlotte’s Web! And I have to admit, I thought Nancy Drew was great too.

  2. I still weep when I even THINK about the Velveteen Rabbit. I could never read it to my son because I could not get through it. Growing up, I wanted to be Nancy Drew, maybe because she bossed her boyfriend around Ned around. I couldn’t buy those books fast enough. Loved your posts! North Coast Muse at

  3. My two favourite books as a kid were The Hungry Caterpillar and The Elephant & the Bad Baby. I can still remember all the words today 🙂


  4. I wonder whatever happened to Shel Silverstein? I loved his “Where the Sidewalk Ends.” I still have Anne of Green Gables. I liked the book better than the movie though. The movie drove me crazy.


  5. You just summed up my whole childhood. This post put me in such a good mood!

    I’m with you on the “Meatballs” movie though. That 3D animation is such a disservice to the book. Oh well, hopefully they’ll do a good job staying true to the feel of the story.

    1. Thanks, LeeCee! I recently discovered there’s a sequel to “Meatballs,” Pickles to Pittsburg, which came out earlier this month. Nothing puts me in a good mood quite like kids’ books. Hope all’s well!

  6. My favorites were: ‘A chair for my mother’ by Vera B. Williams (which I think I check out after seeing on Reading Rainbow.), ‘A Snowy Day’ by Ezra Jack Keats and The Anne of Green Gables series ( I think I read that one about 27 times….) These books still make me smile when I read them today!

  7. Oooohhhhh… and I just remembered- ‘Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day’ By Judith Viorst and Ray Cruz. A Great one!

  8. My favorite children’s book is Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. I spent a lot of my childhood climbing trees with my book in one hand and an apple in the other, whiling away the hot summer in the Black Walnut tree reading adventure stories like Treasure Island.

    But the book I keep re-reading is House With a Clock In Its Walls by John Bellairs. It has just enough of a mysterious and creepy vibe to keep kids interested, but not enough to scare them too silly. I do admit to thinking I saw evil Isaac Izard’s glowing eyes in my closet once, though. All the Bellairs books are incredible, and I like the books Brad Strickland has written using Bellairs’ characters.

    As an adult, I read the Indian in the Cupboard books by Lynne Reid Banks and loved them. Also love the Bunnicula series by James Howe.

    I spent many years in the children’s book industry, and it is great to see a site devoted to these books. Thanks!

  9. this brings back so many treasured memories. anne of green gables, blueberries for sal (that one was way far back in my memory!), frog and toad, dr. seuss.

    1. Thanks, all, for sharing your favorites (both books and memories). This has been quite a bit of fun! Hope everyone’s having a great weekend.

      Best wishes,

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