Today’s International Children’s Book Day, a tribute to Hans Christian Andersen, the father of fairy tales. As I’ve discussed during my International Read to Me Day post, reading has always been a major part of my childhood. My parents had strict no video games and no TV on school nights (or before your Saturday chores) rules. Living out in the country in the middle of nowhere, options for entertainment were limited; books became my fun (along with drawing, exploring nature, piano, and board games). Those things are actually still my fun, come to think of it. Add in some traveling and a Lizzy, and that’s me in a nutshell.
Children’s books have always held a special place in my heart. In fact, the first book I ever wrote was a children’s book (middle grade). It used to be on Amazon actually; I’m too lazy to put it back up. Writing for children requires imagination and language that’s both simple but not dumbed down, which makes those books some of the best examples of English literature our society has. After all, some of our most cherished books are written for children (or the child-like at heart): Harry Potter, The Giver, anything by Roald Dahl, Charlotte’s Web, A Wrinkle in Time, and the list goes on. Whatever books we read as adults now, almost all of us have read many of the same ones as children. There’s value in that, I think. I still read children’s books.
I’d list some of my favorite children’s books (other than the above), but there are too many. So instead, I’ll talk about The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. Mom used to read this book to us as children probably because her mom read it to her. (I didn’t know this at the time; I realize now because she has little Peter Rabbit figurines she inherited from grandma. She treasures those figurines.) I remember being horrified and amused as Peter Rabbit snacked on MacGregor’s produce, losing his brand-new sweater and shoes in the process. I don’t know what happened to our copy of that book. I wish Mom still had it (I think she wishes as well). Those books, those memories, were an indelible part of my childhood, an indelible part of me, of the Allison who now is.
Children’s books shouldn’t have just one day dedicated to them. They should have at least a month, a year, because reading in children is that important. It has brought me joy. I know it brought my nephew joy as we looked at Richard Scary’s Cars and Trucks and Things that Go.
Choose Joy (for you and your kids).