Have you ever heard of a “Book Shower”? When a colleague offered the idea as an event they very much enjoyed, I began to wonder what book I would choose as a gift for a child. What an amazing experience to grow up with the novels and stories that others loved before you already awaiting your attention in a bookshelf that belongs to you! It is wonderful to imagine a child relishing the words on the pages of a book that I once read with excitement.
The love of reading can be encouraged at school with book fairs and summer reading lists, but the responsibility to instill a love of reading into a child begins at infancy. Many parents read to their children while still in the womb and continue this healthy habit during their younger years. Due to time constraints, some parents are not able to read with their children as much as they would like. As a reader whose mother read all the time, my love for the written word came from her example.
What five books from your childhood do you believe each and every child should have in their bookcase? This question is not as simple to answer as it sounds. Book lovers tend to have innumerable amount of favorite books. These are my favorites today. Tomorrow may be another story (pun intended).
1. Liver Cookies by Dian Curtis Regan
This is a book that I often wonder if others have read or heard of. A girl named Holly and her best friend Beth start a business making healthy junk food as a school project and selling their edible wares. The main characters were the same age as me and there are even recipes for a child and parent to make together of the snacks in the story. The lesson: Impossible goals are not so impossible with diligent hard work, new ideas, and a side of merriment. See it on Goodreads.
2. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
When I was in Elementary/Grade School, my teachers used to read one poem from this book daily. The author skillfully combined silliness, prose, and cute drawings to create short stories. My favorite is about a king who adored peanut butter sandwiches with such intensity, he ended up cementing his jaw together with peanut butter. It’s delightfully funny. This one book hasn’t left my list of favorites for 25 years. The lesson: Too many to list because each poem has its own. See it on Goodreads.
3. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
I discovered this treasure of a book in my school library. It is the story of Sam Gribley, a teen who decides that city living in New York City is too much. He runs away to reside in the mountains and within the woods. Exciting portions of Sam’s story include training a falcon, making pancakes from acorns, and living inside a tree. I read this fantastic story repeatedly during my childhood. The lesson: There is nothing impossible with the right amount of knowledge and ingenuity. See it on Goodreads.
4. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Charlotte is a wizened spider and Wilbur is a very young pig. While Charlotte and Wilbur are very different, in this charming story, they become friends. Fern, a young girl, fights to keep Wilbur from the frying pan with the help of Charlotte and other farm friends. This is a darling tale that, even 20+ years later, warms my heart to consider. The lesson: The best friendships are possible between generations and among the most different of cultures. See it on Goodreads.
5. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
On an island with just her little brother, Karana survives using skills she’s learned from her elders. While this story has its moments of sadness, it is a beautiful, heart-breaking tale of hope and a young girl’s journey to becoming a woman without the guidance available to others her age. The lesson: Learn from those who have taught me and find myself. See it on Goodreads.
A couple of other honorable mentions include Hatchet by Gary Paulsen and Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. Even with everything I’ve read, the supply of new novels continues and is unlikely to slow. Let us pass the books we’ve loved to those who are younger and continue a legacy of stories from one generation to the next.
Set the example in reading for yourself and read with your children as often as possible. When it’s time for a bedtime story, keep the reading and the time enjoyable, so everyone looks forward to story time. Include a book you love with each and every present you give. And, if you believe in the power of books, throw a “book shower” the next time someone you love is pregnant. It’s raining books. Let’s keep it that way!
Comment below with the books that you remember fondly from childhood. What book would you gift to a child you care about?