Over theThanksgiving break, we went to my wife’s parents house, where my wife and our daughter started spelunking through an old attic crawl space. The finds were unbelievable — like something you might get if you combined Hoarders with that one show about rental unit auctioneers but then added “lost treasures of childhood literature” as a subtitle. I can totally see TLC picking up this show.
Where the Red Fern Grows. The BFG. Julie and the Wolves. The Original Warm Fuzzy Tale. Hattie the Backstage Bat. The memories came flooding back and got me thinking about the best kids books I have ever read and want to read again.
Digging through all those dusty cardboard boxes was like digging through a time capsule of my own childhood: all those books I cherished and dog eared and read front to back and back again, as if there was some magic inside, magic that would rub off and take me with it into a world of wolves or giants and theatrically inclined bats. For the better part of the weekend, we curled up on a couch and pored over the pages, feeling extra special and particularly nostalgic because my wife had thumbed through these same pages as a child.
I felt all at once warm and fuzzy for getting to retread over these forgotten treasures, but also a little jealous of my daughter — because as she learns to read more and more, she gets to take these adventures fresh, on her own.
Over the weekend, we read through just about all the old picture books and then my wife and fought over who gets to read aloud which chapter book. I called dibs on Where the Red Fern Grows and Julie and the Wolves.
Because we are gigantic nerds who get excited over these things, I couldn’t help but start thinking about all the books I want to read to my daughter over the next few years. I know she’ll soon be lost in the Harry Potter series of whatever new version of Greek myths or vampires is popular in a few years, but I can’t imagine not letting her curl up on my lap at bed time to hear a new chapter of some magical story every night. We’ve already read the Little House on the Prairie series together but these little book finds made me excited for all the stories I get to relive and she gets to hear for the first time.
I’m going to list my Top Five Classic Childhood Books I want to read to my daughter, and you can do the same in the comments. Feel free to share your reasons, or not, as long as you pass along some treasures of your own.
1. My Side of the Mountain. No book influenced my early years as much as this one. When I was a small boy, I got as far as the end of our block in an ill-planned decision to run away, find a falcon and go live in the woods.
2. Where the Red Fern Grows. I honestly don’t know if I’ll be able to get through this one.
3. Of Mice and Men. Thank you, John Steinbeck, for keeping me up late every night for years.
4. The Indian in the Cupboard. Magic is everywhere.
5. Johnny Tremain. What tiny little nerd went around for half a year with his hand cupped as if soldered together by silver? I have no idea ….
What books are you bursting to relive with your kids?
— Mike @ Cry It Out!