It’s been many years since I spent time reading childrens’ literature. Because of my educational background, I graduated to the “serious stuff” pretty quickly; by fifth grade I was reading Cervantes’ Don Quixote and so on.
But there was a time, a time long, long ago, when I read George Selden, Beverly Cleary, and other authors of children’s fiction.
And now that I’m the father of a five-year-old girl, I’m getting the chance to read them again, aloud.
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Over the fall, we went through all of George Selden’s books, starting with The Cricket in Times Square, which the kids absolutely loved. They loved his books so much, in fact, that we read a couple of them (including that one) twice.
Then, we read a couple of books about Ralph S. Mouse, including most notably The Mouse and the Motorcycle, which they also loved.
And now we’re on the seventh book of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Quimby series, Ramona Forever.
What’s dawning on me, as I experience these stories once again, this time with kids of my own, is just how fabulous they are. With one book left before we’ve covered all of Ramona’s books, we’ve watched this girl grow up, all of us enthralled.
The stories are endearing, beguiling, and fun. Ramona, in particular, reminds me so much of my own daughter—irrepressible, tempermental, misunderstood, intelligent, hopeful, sensitive and indignant—that it’s almost eerie. But the other books have been wonderful as well.
Far from being a chore, reading childrens’ fiction again has been incredibly rewarding. These are, quite simply, very good books that are a joy to read.
My infinite thanks to the authors of childrens’ fiction for doing what they do. The world is a far, far better place for their efforts.
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With that said, I’m at a bit of a loss about what to read after George Selden and Beverly Cleary. It’s been a while and my memory of other childrens’ authors isn’t clear. This may have something to do with the fact that I graduated from childrens’ fiction so quickly when I was young.
I suppose it’s time to pick up some second and third grade reading lists to see what’s hot out there these days.