I had a mother who read to me."--Strickland Gillilan
I have always loved great children's literature. I come by it honestly. From my babyhood, my mother read wonderful books to me. She says that by the time I was walking, I would follow her around with a book, begging her to read. She'd wash a few dishes, then read me a book. Finish the dishes, another book. Put in some laundry, read me a book. I was a bookworm as a one year old, and I think that it is not just because she read to me, but also because she cared enough to find high quality, well written and illustrated books. All children's books are not created equally--there are plenty out there that are complete junk.
I remember when I was in eighth or ninth grade my parents started talking about moving the family to somewhere more affordable (they fixed on St. George, Utah) so that my dad could quit his job as a salesman and open a children's bookstore. It was my dad's middle age crisis dream--he was afraid that his job should be making the world a better place, and he wasn't sure that selling guitars and drums to rock stars really qualified for that. (I think that raising six children was his contribution to improving the world.) This children's bookstore dream came before the big box Barnes and Noble or Borders and long before Amazon.com forced many small, independent bookstores to close down. When I saw You've Got Mail, The Shop Around the Corner reminded me of the children's bookstore that they dreamed of.
I have done my best to instill the love of reading in my children by using the same method that my mother did--by filling our home with beautiful, well-written books, and by making them accessible to my kids. They have bookshelves in their bedrooms that are overflowing with books. We read a lot together (although I will admit that I used to spend more time reading to them five years ago when I only had two kids. The upside is that now Kimball will read aloud to them as well--and he does great voices!) We are all passionate about books around here, and there's nothing that I love to see more than finding one or more of my kids reading quietly, wrapped up in the story unfolding. Even the boys who can't read yet will sit and "read" for ages, because they have so many of their books memorized by now that it's almost as enjoyable as being read to. (Last week, they took all their pillows and blankets and big stack of books into the refrigerator box that is still here and made a "book cave." Aren't they cute?)
So, because I love children's lit and because I want to share that with you, I have a new section on the sidebar of my blog, entitled, "Fall in Love with Children's Lit." Go check it out. I've made a link for each book so that you can easily get them on Amazon if you are so inclined. Or go to the local library. I will be adding books regularly and will also try to post sometimes featuring specific authors, illustrators, or series that we enjoy. One of the great things about quality children's literature is that you as a parent (or aunt, uncle, babysitter) can enjoy it as well.
Feel free to comment here about your favorites that aren't on my list yet. I just made this list in a few minutes tonight and it is by no means comprehensive--it is a work in progress.
Now, if I can just find where I put my book, I'll curl up for a few minutes before bedtime. Happy reading!