Musings: Children’s Books

Today’s topic is: “To celebrate the end of National Library Week, what were your three favorite children’s books when you were a kid?”


One of the best parts of having children of my own is sharing some of my old favorites with them. Here are three that I remember loving way back when.

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
As a child growing up in the country, I could definitely relate to this girl. (She is also the little girl from One Morning in Maine, which I also enjoyed but not quite as much as this one.) I loved her sense of adventure, wonder, and curiosity. It makes me wonder what type of adult Sal would have turned out to be, based on this idyllic technology-free childhood.

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
When I rediscovered this book last year and began reading it to my girls, without even realizing it, I immediately mimicked my mother’s intonation and cadence when I read “Caps. Caps for Sale. Fifty cents a cap.” Even after all these years, it was locked in my memory as clear as could be. I hope that in another 30 years, my daughters can have the same wonderful experience.

The Best Word Book Ever by Richard Scarry
I still maintain that this is one of the best “who-can-find” books out there. And even though the new version includes politically correct updates (policeman is now police officer, and they’ve removed all references to cowboys and indians), it is still a great book to sit down with and explore the tiny details on each busy page.


Much to my delight, there are also some new children’s books that I (as an adult) think are fantastic. Here are a few that come to mind.

Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
How can you not love a book that finds so many words that rhyme with llama? My favorite line is “Please stop all this llama drama and be patient for your mama.” (The other llama books in this series are also enjoyable!)

Are You A Cow? by Sandra Boynton
Even the youngest toddlers can read this book out loud, word for word, cover to cover. The girls love the part where it asks if they are an upside-down chicken. (I also love Boynton’s rhythmic Barnyard Dance book.)

Way Out in the Desert by T.J. Marsh and Jennifer Ward
This book has a nice rhythm to it. And when we drove to Arizona for Christmas last year, I loved it when my girls looked out the window, pointed to a saguaro cactus, and exclaimed, “Mama, look! We’re way out in the desert!”


That said, having to read (and reread) books that I can’t stand is also part of the deal. I would be happy if I never again had to muddle through Runaway Rabbit by Margaret Wise Brown. I understand the message that she’s trying to convey, but for some ineffable reason, it just seems enormously annoying to me.


I’m also not a fan of the classic Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt, but for good reason. The page that tells us to smell the flowers has such a potent fragrance on it, it makes my eyes water and my nose sneeze. On our copy, I cut out that page and taped the adjoining pages back together. Unfortunately, there is still a strong odor to the rest of the book, so I try to hide it in the back of the bookshelf.


Please share your favorite titles in the comments.

~ Phoebe DeCook



2 thoughts on “Musings: Children’s Books

  1. Mary Eastvold says:

    Random thoughts, I loved Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew. My favorite for my granddaughter was a Halloween book, “Is there Room on the Broom?” ANd my kids loved a poetry book, “Where the Sidewalk Ends”


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