About seven years ago, as a first grade teacher, I attended a workshop featuring Dr. Jean Feldman. There were many things she shared that influenced me as a teacher, but there was one thing she said that I have thought back on many times:
“We are often so eager to give children all the things we didn’t have, that we forget to give them the things we did have.”
She was referring to the importance of Nursery Rhymes in building phonological awareness, and the tendency of many teachers and parents to neglect these classics in favor of the newest, coolest, and latest gadgets, gizmos, and doo-dads. While nursery rhymes originate as far back as the 16th or 17th century, they are still one of the most effective tools for teaching children.
Lately, I’ve thought back on this quote again, as I’ve noticed some of my boys’ favorite stories were some of my favorites as a child as well. As I pull some of our very favorite stories from the shelves and page through to the copyright, I’m often surprised to see how long some of these fantastic books have been around!
And so, in spite of the fact that there are some truly fabulous new books out, I wanted to focus today on some of the classics that every child should get the chance to enjoy!
Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina was first published in 1940, but its charming patterned story will always be one of my favorites! Even though it was written before their grandpa was born, my boys love it too!
What parent doesn’t have the words to Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown forever memorized? I would love to see a counter displaying how many times this story simple story, first published in 1947, has sent children off to slumber.
All Things Seuss! While the works of Dr. Seuss have been around since the late 50s, I’m often surprised to find children who have never actually heard the stories of a persistent boy named Sam-I-Am, one mischievous cat, or the Sneetches on beaches. (Familiarity through cinema doesn’t quite count. No offense, Jim Carrey. You make a great Horton, but as with most based-on-the-book movies, you just have to read the book!)
The Very Hungry Caterpillar , written by Eric Carle and published in1969, is another book that has aged incredibly well. Despite the fact that this op-ed writer finds the text lacking in “narrative creativity” and “devoid of surprise” those who love and teach young children know that the repetition and pattern of text is instrumental in building new readers. Besides that, kids love it!
As a shout-out to the children of the 70s, I have to add The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone. It was one of my very favorites growing up! I thought it was just a trendy book, lost in the past, until one of my first grade students brought it to school on the day the children were asked to bring one favorite book. Soon after that, I bought a new copy for my own library while pregnant with my first son. Six years later it is still getting good miles around our house!
I could go on and on….but I want to hear what you have to say!
What are some of the ageless books at the top of your “favorites” list?
Top photo by Horton Group.