Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Our favorite things

I've been thinking about the nature of our favorite children's books since Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times wrote about the books he considered the best ever. I couldn't help noticing how few current titles were on his list. I realized that when I make my list of favorites, it's heavily weighted toward things that have been around for a while, too.

It seems that most of us like books that:
  1. We read as kids.
  2. We read to our kids.
That makes sense. Our connections to those books run deep. That's why so many parents go into bookstores looking for classic titles -- they want to share the things they loved with their children. It's sad in some ways, because they often pass up great new books in favor of the familiar, but it also speaks to the power of the books we read as children.

I also enjoyed Kristof's follow-up to his original post, in which he noted the overwhelming response to his list. Most of the books people wanted to add to the list also are classics -- one of the few recent titles was Holes.
'What struck me is how passionate so many readers were about their choices. Clearly, they were profoundly shaped by these books, just as I was by my favorites. Some people in their 80’s talked about books they had read as children, speaking of them as their dearest friends. That’s the relationship that I had with books as a child, and yet I’m not sure that many kids these days have the same glorious relationship with books that we did. I hope I’m wrong, for great children’s books are truly magical."
That's what I'm talking about.