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Miriam Goderich discovers children’s books

I like to think of myself as a fairly well read person. I even enjoy mocking my younger colleagues when they haven’t heard of, much less read, some obscure Victorian author whose praises I’m singing for whatever reason (yes, we’re that kind of office). But there is one literary category that I am woefully ignorant of and which makes them – the mock-ees – feel very superior: children’s books.

Because my earliest years were spent in foreign lands, by the time I got to the U.S., I had not read a single of the classic children’s books that are as much a part of American kids’ experience as frosted flakes and mac & cheese. Closing in on nine years of age by the time my parents and I arrived on these shores, I preferred comic books or more grown-up book fare. So, I missed out on those foundational reading blocks. When, in college, my friends waxed nostalgic about Ferdinand the Bull, Curious George, or Eeyore (everyone, it seems, strongly identified with Eeyore) I just nodded and pretended to know what they were talking about. When they mentioned Corduroy, I thought, “how much fun can a book about fabric swatches be?” and turned back to whatever Russian novel I was engrossed in at the time.

Many years passed in blissful ignorance of children’s books. Then, my son was born. And, I didn’t have a clue what to read to him – Notes from the Underground didn’t seem appropriate bedtime reading, somehow. Happily, lots of wonderful people sent him the classic board books. Along with him, I was introduced to Goodnight Moon, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and The Runaway Bunny. And, despite the brain numbing repetitiveness (we went through at least two copies of Goodnight Moon) I found that these stories held up remarkably well. They were still charming the 150th time you read them out loud with the exact same inflection all the way through.

But then, my son and I both started getting bored with the limited selection. We wanted more narrative, more suspense, more drama. So, again, I was at a loss. I asked around and Lauren Abramo and Jim McCarthy gave me a list of their favorites. I also started looking at lists on Amazon for suggestions and finally became acquainted with some of those books my friends mentioned lovingly all those years ago. Turns out Corduroy is a bear – who knew? Ferdinand is a very cool, pacifist bull. Eeyore is quite the existential donkey. Harold and his purple crayon are delightfully hallucinogenic. And, Caps for Sale is really funny – especially if you use just the right tone when reprimanding the monkeys.

Of course, my colleagues here always knew about this treasure trove of literature and some, like Michael Bourret have been extremely successful in the children’s and YA markets. As for me, the experience of reading to my kid is made even more delightful by the fact that I’m discovering great books.

What are your favorite children’s books? (I still need lots of recommendations.)

51 Responses to Miriam Goderich discovers children’s books

  1. NICOLE says:

    YOU SUPERB

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