Let’s start with the most important thing about today – Canada’s Birthday. Happy Canada Day! Today’s TTT prompt is classics. I suppose I should have done Canadian Classics, but I wasn’t thinking about the date when I put this together. So instead, we’re going with children’s lit.
I’ve always been drawn to children’s literature, especially the classics. There’s something interesting about the way children portrayed in these books – especially from a gender perspective. They don’t seem as coloured as the modern books. Modern YA are exceptionally problematic in their portrayals. Children’s books are so full of exploration and adventure. These aren’t just books for kids. These are books I think all kids should read and adults can enjoy.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
If I’m ever restricted to listing one book as my favourite, it’s this one. And I mean the book that includes both Adventures and Looking Glass. TLG gets overlooked a lot, but I actually like it more than Adventures. Weirdly, I remember the specifics of that book more. The sheep on the train and the chessboard have always stuck with me. There’s such a sense of curiosity and exploration in this book. It’s a must for both girls and boys.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
This book should be read to kids before they ever watch the MGM movie. The Dorothy in the book is a child, not the teenager portrayed in the movie. She has to take responsibility for things that she’s not old enough for. She has to stand up for herself and help others stand up for themselves. It’s great for teaching that people are more important than things. The movie’s also great – even if it’s not really that similar to the book. And it’s a series. Get your kids to read them all.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
This one’s a modern classic. It hasn’t been out as long as the others, but it’s passed the 20 year mark to count as a classic. 20 years, right?! I do not remember these books being out in the early 90s, but I guess they were. Yes, there are seven books, but I’m picking the first one for the ‘children’ part of this list. It’s the most kid focused. The remaining books get darker as the characters get older. It’s a male central character, but everyone can find at least one character in the series they can relate to.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
I read this in grade five, I think, as part of our language arts curriculum. I honestly don’t remember that much about the specifics, but I remember the experience of reading the book. even though I haven’t re-read it since I finished school, this book has stuck with me. Yes, it’s a fantasy book, but it’s also got this science twist to it. With crazy character names and a group of misfits thrown through time, it’s a great introduction to this genre.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
This book has been adapted so many times it’s hard to know exactly which moments from the book. The golden geese and “I Want It Now” from the 1971 movie version are two of my favourite things, but they’re not actually from the book. In the book, it’s squirrels. I remember the book feeling vaguely racist, but you know, good teaching tools and such. Veruca remains as one of my favourite girl’s names from fiction.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Red-headed and feisty. That’s Anne. With an E. Sure. I wasn’t an orphan. And I’m not red-headed. And my parents aren’t strict old people (well, they’re not young anymore). But man, Anne felt like a kindred spirit. She got herself into a lot of trouble, but she went for it. Smashed chalkboards. Hair dye tragedies. Accidental drunkenness. Gilbert Blythe was my first fictional crush. But there’s more to the story than the romance. There’s friendship and family and those things are paramount. Going to Green Gables is still one of my favourite family vacation memories. Oh, and Canadian. Yay!
Lost in the Barrens by Farley Mowat
Mrs. Bijou was my seventh grade English teacher. This was a weird occurrence in my young life. She and her husband had been teachers in a town I lived in when I was in elementary school. Even though I wasn’t old enough to be their student, I remember them because of their adorable son one grade above me. But then at the end of grade four, my family moved and that was that. Cute boys come and cute boys go. Then, wonder of wonders, they moved to the same town as us the year I was going into grade seven. This could be just one of those weird moments in life, but part of me wants to call this kismet, fate, the universe, whatever. Mrs. Bijou is the teacher that got me into writing. I’d always liked reading, but she assigned me my first ‘writing’ assignment. And she’s the first person that ever told me I had a knack for it. It might have happened eventually, but for this version of me, she changed my young life. So, what does this have to do with a staple of children’s fiction by a treasured Canadian author? She’s the one that taught it to me. She is proof that a great teacher can have a huge impact .
Summary – two young boys, lost in the frozen tundra. The title sums it up. I think it’s a great book for young boys – who often get the tiny shelf in the book section.
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
It’s sweet. It makes most people cry. It’s got that Toy Story 3 impact, but it had it long before that movie. There are certain things we have to grow out of to grow up. And sometimes, giving up those things is heartbreaking.
The Giver by Lois Lowry
I talk about this one a lot. So, I’m not going to go into it in great detail. Dystopian fiction from before it was cool. Knowledge is power- the hands it falls into determines the strength and direction of that power. It teaches kids to question authority without resorting to violence. They’re releasing a movie. I fear it will be awful.
Pippi Longstockings by Astrid Lindgren
She’s a super strong nine-year-old girl with crazy amounts of money that lives in a mansion with a monkey and no parents. And she can lift a horse. Classic!
What are your favourite children’s books?