It’s International Children’s Book Day- a holiday I never knew existed, but think is worth celebrating. I was a voracious reader as a kid and it is still my favorite hobby. I never go anywhere now without at least two books in my kindle app in my phone, just in case. Even though my college degrees are in lab science and business, my favorite college memory is from a children’s literature course I took over thirty years ago. I had to give a 20 minute oral presentation on E.B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan and still consider it one of the best projects I have ever put together, in or out of the classroom.
I have several favorite picture books, classics that I read over and over to my son when he was little. I like the sassy beat of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, the sweet assurances of of the bunny family in Guess How Much I Love You, and am still fascinated by the creepily drawn monsters in Where The Wild Things Are. I still have my son’s well read copy, even though he is now in his 20s. It made such an impression on me that I named my cat Max after the main character, inspired by the line “…the night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief…” as this kitty sure likes to get into trouble.
My all time favorite childhood chapter book was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I think I always wanted to be like the main character, Francie Nolan. She was poor and struggled with family upheaval, but she trusted that her determination and love for reading would be able to lift her out of the situation she was born into. It gave me something to hope for.
I also loved the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, especially the versions beautifully illustrated by Garth Williams, who also did the artwork for Charlotte’s Web and The Trumpet of the Swan. I have a special fondness for the stories where Laura and Almanzo met and fell in love. As a nine year old, I found it incredibly romantic.
I recently started listening to author Gretchen Rubin’s podcast Happier and was surprised to learn that she was in several book clubs that read children’s literature. What? Adults can read children’s books for their own enjoyment? This “permission” has reignited a desire to revisit some old favorites and see them through an older, and hopefully wiser, lens. Today would be an excellent time to start.