While we all get excited about the newest books of the season, when it comes to gift giving, an old-favorite is often a perfect fit. This holiday season, I asked fellow Carle Museum staffers what children’s books they felt particularly close to – whether it was a book they remembered from their childhood or a well-loved standby that they read over and over to their own children. The result is a wonderful list that can be a helpful guide for anyone wanting to give a classic book that will truly stand the test of time.
Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton.
“Katy is a strong female protagonist that does a great job under difficult conditions. This book has beautiful graphics and it’s fun to read!” (Heidi, Collections)
Time for Bed by Mem Fox, illustrated by Jane Dyer.
“A beautiful book where animals put their babies to bed. It’s a great book to snuggle with as you put your own child to bed. I began reading the book when I was pregnant with my first child and it quickly became a favorite amongst my three children.” (Sandy, Marketing)
The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey, illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren.
“I loved The Poky Little Puppy. I remember my mom and grandmother reading it to me over and over. Whenever I see the title around the museum, I remember being a child.” (Chuck, Education)
The Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
“My all-time favorite childhood stories were the Little House books. I learned a lot from Laura – she was a spunky, strong and smart girl who seemed like me. She had such imagination and energy, and it was hard to be good, but she persevered. I can’t even count how many times I read these over and over again, and I still love these books to this day.” (Rebecca, Development)
Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary.
“I loved Beverly Cleary books. In them the kids always tried to solve their own problems before going to an adult and sometimes that meant creating an even bigger mess. I read everything she wrote because I really connected with the characters.” (Diana, Art Studio)
Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina.
“I probably read this one to my daughter a million times!” (Nick, Collections)
The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper, illustrated by George & Doris Hauman
“I can still remember the way I felt when my kindergarten teacher read The Little Engine that Could. It gave me the feeling of pure joy, hope and exhilaration that the world is filled with possibilities. That, if you think you can, then you most certainly can! No matter your size, you can still be mighty.” (Lillian, Bookstore)
And me? While it’s so, so hard to pick just one book, I’d say it’s this:
I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew by Dr. Seuss
I still have my childhood copy, which is roughly held together by some old-school brown packaging tape. My dad read this book to me every night before bed. And every night he’d read the book in the same way, with the same cadences in his voice as he went through the sing-songy verse. He even had little sound effects he’d always do at certain points, like when the character fell down (ba-wee-boom!).
Not only was this book a great entertaining story of a character going on a crazy journey to escape his troubles, but it also has a great message that sometimes the best thing is to face your problems instead of running away from them. Most of all, though, it was the book that brought my father and I together, and now in my mind, they are forever connected. To this day, I can still recite this book in the exact same way as my dad read it to me 20+ years ago. And that, my friends, is something very special indeed.
I think it’s so interesting that our memories get so entwined with objects sometimes. In this case…books! You can look at a picture book, turn the pages, read the words, and be transported to a time when your child was so small in your arms, or you yourself were little and reciting the pages with parent. Books for us at The Carle are a portal back to our favorite times – memories of reading. And I think there is no greater gift than that.
So here are just a few of our personal favorites, but we’d love to hear about the classic books that are special to you and your family. Do you have a favorite book that would make a great gift? Let us know in the comments below.