Happy Mother’s Day, Book Style

Happy Mother’s Day to you, if it applies, and to your mother, because it’s fun to say “Your mother” and mean it in a nice way. My Mother’s Day started off with my going back to bed with a migraine (fucker) and then getting back up once I was firmly in the embrace of painkillers to enjoy having my children and husband make me breakfast and give me gifts.

The Mommy BookOne of my gifts, from Freebird: The Mommy Book, by Todd Parr: “Some mommies work at home. Some mommies work in big buildings. All mommies love to watch you sleep.”  I love the Parr books, especially The Daddy Book, which we read all the time with Freebird. Baba O’Riley gave me a copy of The Family Book, which is terribly sweet and made me smile-cry with the pictures of families of different colors and sizes. My favorite part was the page about how some families look like each other, and some families look like their pets. If I look like our pets, we are so screwed. And hairy. Very very hairy.

Since my gifts were books – oh, how my family knows me! – I got to thinking, what are your favorite children’s books of the very-young-child variety? There are some that are incredibly old but stand up for repeated tellings even when they’re nearly 80. Ferdinand the Bull was published in 1936, and I remember having my own copy when I was a kid.

Other books that are mainstays of the home library are Goodnight Moon, Guess How Much I Love You (though thanks to The Sneeze I sometimes say, “little brown nut-hair,” which is awful and funny), and I Love You, Goodnight.

What about you, and your bookshelf? What books form the corners of your childhood memories? And what books do you pass along to children in your life?

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  1. 1
    Freezair says:

    I have no children yet, but if I ever do, there’s an entire collection of books that I’m probably going to give to them.

    Anything by Sandra Boynton (I don’t think I spelled her last name right, but oh well), Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day, Dr. Seuss (of course), and Harold and the Purple Crayon, among others.

    In the “slightly older kids” department, we have the lovely and adorable Magic School Bus series (as a child of the 90’s, these were an ESSENTIAL part of my elementary schooling), The Jolly Postman books (never did find all the pieces to the Humpty Dumpty puzzle from one of the books), and the lovely Dinotopia books, which are fairly long to read, but always beautiful to look at. Plus! Dinosaurs!

  2. 2
    Barb Ferrer says:

    We had Boynton Books out the wazoo when Boy and the Diva were babies.  Moo, Baa, La la la was the huge favorite.  Then when they got a little older, it was the Betsy Cronin/Doreen Lewis books.  Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type was the first one and we were irrevocably hooked.  Also the version of St. George and the Dragon that was illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman still resides on our bookshelf.  Anything by Jon Sczieska, Graeme Base, or Berke Breathed.  The cool thing about a lot of these books is that we still have them, prominently displayed on our shelves and every now and again, we pull them down and read them and enjoy ourselves all over.

    Now they’re reading the Warriors series and Percy Jackson and the Olympians.  Heh.  I got me some readers.

  3. 3
    fiveandfour says:

    When my daughter was born, someone got us Love You Forever by Robert Munsch.  This was a cruel thing to do.  Hormones + That Book = Crying.  Loads and loads of crying.  Reading it as a bedtime story ever after evoked some kind of Pavlovian response harkening back to reading it that first time and I cried EVERY TIME I read that damned thing.

    I can’t wait to give it to my daughter and do the same thing to her some day.

  4. 4

    Oh, goodness. Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny, along with assorted Dr. Seuss, two different fairy tale books and one called Tales from the Ballet were mainstays of my childhood. I still have most of them, albeit beaten up and in storage. But my parents mostly told me stories—an assortment of Indian folktales, mythological things, and the occasional adaptation of some book my father liked.

    I have, however, started collecting books I read in school that have since gone out of print, like Allan Eckert’s The Dark Green Tunnel, Bruce Coville’s ghost story trilogy (which I liked so much better than any of his alien books), and anything by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. I’m also vaguely tempted to find my old copies of Enid Blyton, even though I know they’re formulaic, because I remember how much fun they were to read when I was nine or so.

  5. 5
    SB Sarah says:

    When I was very, very young, the Munsch family lived across the street from my grandmother in Etna, PA. I knew he wrote books for kids and I think he gave my mom a signed copy of The Paper Bag Princess, which is a great book, but I had NO idea who he really was until I was much older.

    And “Love You Forever” is instant tears for me, too. That and Before You Were Born, which is a Jewish legend about Lailah, guardian angel of the soul, who tells babies all the secrets of the universe. I read that one? Instant WEEP.

  6. 6
    snarkhunter says:

    When I was a baby, my mom (who worked at a drugstore at the time) found a book called “Two Kittens.” The two kittens happened to have my name—one has my first name and the second my middle name. I’ve treasured that book for almost 30 years now. I also have an ancient nursery-rhyme book (I think it belonged to an aunt or a great-aunt before me) that I adored as a child, and look forward to passing down.

    I’ve been sending my six-month-old nephew his father’s favorites (“The Little Red Caboose” and “Go Dog Go!”), both of which I love because I remember how much my brother loved them. Actually, aside from the nursery rhyme book, I don’t remember which books I liked best. Mostly, I remember what my brother liked.

  7. 7
    Mel-O-Drama says:

    Hands down, my two favorite books as a young kid: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak and The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

  8. 8
    Deb Kinnard says:

    “Two Frisky Cats”, a board book about a mother cat & her kitten. Long trashed now, but I loved to read it to my firstborn & probably could still recite its entire text (there wasn’t much) from memory.

    “Love You Forever”, instant tear-yanker. ‘Nuff said.

    Rosemary Well’s “Max” books.

    “How Droofus the Dragon Lost His Head,” Bill Peet.

    “Tales of the Ghost Whale.” Don’t look for this in stores. These are bedtime stories my husband made up on the spot when they were bored with their books. I did the puppet part. Mortimer Jonah, the ghost whale, could fly either in water or air. He would drop in at night and pick up one or both of my daughters (known by their aliases, Tritistee and Triteria), and have adventures.

    Guess you hadda be there.

  9. 9

    With my kids we loved PAT THE BUNNY, GOODNIGHT MOON, MOON CAKE, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, and so many other books that we loved to read together.

    Does anyone remember a book about a mother who would rock her son and tell him how much she loved him, and even when her son was grown and married, she’d climb up into his bedroom just to hug him (it was really cute) and then at the end it was the young man holding his frail older mother saying the same thing she always said to him. It still makes me teary to think about that book.  I wish I could remember it.

    My word is play 51 Maybe I should play today. :o)

  10. 10
    CherylPangolin says:

    I second the love for all things Sandra Boynton.  Especially ones with hippos: Hippos Go Berserk!; But Not the Hippopotomas; and The Belly Button Book.  Also No Matter What is a sweet tale about love.

    I’d forgotton about it until we found it at the library, but The Monster at the End of This Book is excellent fun for toddlers.

    For somewhat older children, which I read to my toddlers anyhow, Shadow Castle is a great fairy tale chapter book.

    ———————————-
    Security word Change79—I surely changed a lot more diapers than that!

  11. 11
    Kendra says:

    I loved the Secret Garden as YA.  I still have the original version that I read all those years ago. 

    For my boys, when they were little we mainly used education books.  Right now they are 10 and 11.  My oldest doesnt read much but my youngest is like me.  He is reading Lego’s Bionicle series, The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series , Animorphs and Goosebumps.  In school he just finished reading The Black Stallion.  The school actually let them keep the book.

    The 3 of us are reading Star Wars I, II, & III.  This is a combined book of all the stories.  I was surprised at the quality of the writing.  I didn’t expect it to capture me too! 

    It seems easy to find books for when they are little, but harder as the grow. My youngest reads 2 grades above his reading level.  So we have to be careful about content.  I am so HAPPY that he reads so much and at such a young age.  I didn’t start finishing books until I was in my early teens. 

    Thanks so much for this post today!!

  12. 12
    Wryhag says:

    Two words (well, actually six): Pippi Longstocking, that crazy little bitch. And nearly anything by Dr. Seuss and Roald Dahl.  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  And most traditional fairy tales.

  13. 13
    Leslie Kelly says:

    Cheyenne—that’s Love You Forever.

    A friend gave it to me right after my mother died. Amazing how well it resonates for adults and for children.

  14. 14
    Dani says:

    I don’t have kids right now, but I’ve got a whole library stashed for their future.

    The one that stands out for me, is Little Witch by Anne Elizabeth Bennett to me, and I’ve bought a few copies for the future. My mother used to read this to me from 4 on, and its one of my fondest memories. 

    She also always read the Night Before Christmas to me. A lot, mostly because I’d beg for it. So in mid-June, I could hear my favorite poem.

    And I have a really large encyclopedia of children’s folklore and fairytales that was a favorite as well.

  15. 15
    TracyS says:

    someone got us Love You Forever by Robert Munsch.  This was a cruel thing to do.  Hormones + That Book = Crying

     

    I agree. I love that book though!  Corduroy is another favorite of my kids. 

    The “Little Critter” books were well loved in this house too.

  16. 16
    KCfla says:

    Favorites of mine ( when young) have all been passed down in my house to my kidlets:
    “Where the Wild Things Are” – Sendak
    “The Giving Tree” & “Fallin Up” Silverstein
    “Mama, do you Love Me?” – (can’t remember- must go look!)
    Any of the Junie B series, when they got a bit older

    And the #1,  hands down favorite is “Fox in Socks” by Dr. Seuss.
    I mean come on- seeing your parents ( or me now!) get tongue-tied every evening? PRICELESS!

  17. 17
    Kelly Anne says:

    Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino and Steven Kellogg was the first book I could read as a kid, I loved it that much.  Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson and anything by Maurice Sendak (especially the little books, like Chicken Soup with Rice) also stand out in my memory.  The “Little Critter” books were a fav, although moreso for my little brother than me.

    For fans of poetry, Jack Prelutsky is great.  To this day, “I Love You More Than Applesauce” from his It’s Valentine’s Day anthology is my favourite poem.

  18. 18
    Mellie says:

    My kids love Jane Yolen’s “How do Dinosaur…” books and my older kiddlet is currently into Magic Tree House books (pirates, dinosaurs- adventure!  What more could a young boy want?)

    My favorite book from when I was a youngster is now OOP- Richard Scarry’s “Busy Busy World”  It’s horribly un-PC filled with tons of stereotypes from around the world, but a bunch of great stories none the less.  I also loved “Oh, What a Busy Day” by Gyo Fujikawa.  Just a beautiful book.

    (hope I got the codes right… never tried posting a link here before)

  19. 19
    Jenna says:

    No kids of my own, but I’ve given the nieces and nephews Where the Wild Things Are, The Lorax and Where the Sidewalk Ends. They also liked things like Pat the Bunny, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Down by the Bay when they were small. As they’ve gotten older they read authors like Dianna Wynn Jones and Harry Potter, and I was very proud to introduce my niece who wants to be a writer to Neil Gaiman via Coraline.

    I’ve hung onto or bought for myself the Narnia Chronicles, Winnie the Pooh, Alice in Wonderland and The Phantom Tollbooth.

    One of my favorites that I haven’t been able to find a copy of as an adult is The Best-Loved Doll. It’s about a little girl who’s supposed to bring her favorite doll to a party, so she brings the one with a missing eye and cut hair, etc. (it’s been a while so I’ve forgotten the details). At the party every doll gets a prize, and hers gets Best-Loved.

  20. 20
    Jenna says:

    Er, books like. Not authors like. I know Harry Potter’s not the author. *cringes*

  21. 21
    SusannaG says:

    Pat the Bunny
    the Little Bear books
    Dr. Seuss (especially One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish)
    Sara’s Granny and the Groodle (long out of print, and fabulously psychedelic in both story and illustration)
    Where the Wild Things Are
    Winnie-the-pooh and The House at Pooh Corner
    Make Way for Ducklings
    A Book of Americans

    And I used to beg my mother to read me the intro to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (I had a version for children I got when I was three), in middle English.  One of my favorites!  (She’s an English Ph.D)

  22. 22
    soco says:

    Along the Boynton line, one of her latest is Personal Penguin about a little penguin trailing after a hippo wanting to be best buddies.  Very cute.  And then you get it sung by Davy Jones.  VERY CUTE!  Personal Penguin video

    Since we have favorite bedtime songs as well as bedtime books, this works for both.

  23. 23
    Kat says:

    My favorite book of all time was out of print when I discovered it at my grandparent’s house back when I was in fourth grade. Copies can still be found on sites like Alibris.com. It is The Thirteen Clocks by James Thurber. My boys love the book as well, and I have found a couple of audio books, but none of them capture the book as I see it in my mind’s eye.

  24. 24

    Cheyenne—that’s Love You Forever.

    Thank you, Leslie. I was sitting here asking my 20 y.o. if he remembered that book and was all teary just asking him. He remembered it, but not the title. Thank you!

  25. 25
    Cassie says:

    I adored Where the Wild Things Are as a child.  I’d do the actions on the parts where the monsters were rolling their terrible eyes and showing their terrible claws, and my mom did a fake-sinister voice.  Good times.  :) 

    I also loved Little Bear,  the Frances books (A Bargain for Frances is the only one I remember the title of), anything by Richard Scarry…When I got a bit older my favorite was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

  26. 26

    I don’t remember a lot of really young children’s books, except for Big Dog, Little Dog which my father bought for me when I asked him to teach me how to read (because I felt left out of the family passtime).

    I do, however, cherish the memory of my mother reading Black Stallion to me.  She would carefully read ahead and always ask me if I wanted her to read the scary or the sad parts or skip them.

    Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

  27. 27
    SonomaLass says:

    My kids range in age now from 25 to 15, but we did a lot of reading when they were younger.  And I saved all the books for when I have grandchildren!

    I am amazed at how much of this will be repeat.  Good Night Moon, Where the Wild Things Are, Love You Forever (total weep fest), Make Way for Ducklings, Winnie the Pooh.  Those were all huge favorites.

    My kids were especially fond of poetry, so Dr. Seuss was big (Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham were probably their favorites), and also Shel Silverstein (although NOT The Giving Tree) and A. A. Milne (“They’re changing guards at Buckingham Palace / Christopher Robin went down with Alice”).  Sandra Boynton was big, too.

    The Stinky Cheese Man and Math Curse by John Scieszka and Lane Smith were read over and over.  Man, great books.  We also got good mileage out of the Thomas the Tank Engine books, since the kids loved the show.

    I don’t think anyone else has mentioned P.D. Eastman’s Are You My Mother.  We wore that book out. 

    My sisters and I all loved a book called Not Enough Beds for the Babies by Mary Ann Hoberman.  We have quoted it to each other for decades.  I didn’t have a copy when my kids were growing up, but I recently bought a used copy (for far too much money!) for my sister.  We will have it for our grandchildren.

    This has been a great trip down memory lane for Mother’s Day.  A nice gift; thanks.

  28. 28
    kpsr. says:

    My favorite book of all time was out of print when I discovered it at my grandparent’s house back when I was in fourth grade. Copies can still be found on sites like Alibris.com. It is The Thirteen Clocks by James Thurber.

    just so you know, Kat, the New York Review of Books (man I love their children’s reprints) is reissuing the 13 Clocks in a couple of months.
    http://www.nybooks.com/shop/product?usca_p=t&product_id=7953

    and Mellie, Sterling has been reissuing the works of Gyo Fujikawa in the last year (the Mother Goose collection is one of my favorites from childhood). You may want to keep an eye out for “Oh What a Busy Day” if they continue through all the back catalog.

  29. 29
    Mellie says:

    Thanks!  I’ll keep an eye out- my copy is totally worn out from many, many years of reading.

  30. 30

    I loved the picture books by Tatjana Hauptmann:
    Ein Tag im Leben der Dorothea Wutz (Engl. title = A Day in the Life of Petronella Pig)
    Hurra, Eberhard Wutz ist wieder da! (This is the sequel to the Petronella Pig book; I think this has also been translated into English, but I couldn’t find the title.)
    Adelheid Schleim (Adelina Schlime)

    Other books I greatly enjoyed include
    Sigrid Heuck’s Pony Bär und Apfelbaum (has been translated as “Pony, Bear, and the Stolen Apples”),
    several books by Richard Scarry, among them Ich bin der kleine Hase (the German translation of “I Am a Bunny”),
    and three books of bedtime stories (I’ve listened to them and later read them so often that even today I still remember several of them).

    David Wiesner’s “The Three Pigs” (metafiction for children! wheee!), Olivier Dunrea’s “Boo Boo”, Jackie French’s “Diary of a Wombat” (oh, so adorable!), Antonia Barber’s “Catkin” (love, love, love the illustrations by P.J. Lynch), and Sven Nordqvist’s Petterson & Findus books are favourites of mine among the recently published children’s books.

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