Top 10: Childhood Favorites

Some books are all but impossible to dedicate a full review to on sites like this, but they still deserve our attention gosh-darnit. With that in mind, here are my top-ten childhood favorites, specifically lifted from my own childhood.

10. Critter Goes to School. I loved the Critter books by Mercer Mayer growing up. Come to think of it, I think I had all of them (to a point). My parents made a real push on literature and I think that stayed with me. I actually don’t recall much about this book, other than I’d request it often. Which, for a children’s book, is the highest praise.

Little Critter: First Day of SchoolLittle Critter: First Day of School by Mercer Mayer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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9. The Black Stallion. I think i was reading this book before I was supposed to be. I was reading this at, like, age seven. That seems young. I remember this being a really interesting book, one that got me into chapter books. Every so often even now, twenty years later, I’ll catch myself using a word or turn of phrase and thinking to myself that I actually may have gotten it, somewhere way back, from The Black Stallion.

The Black Stallion (The Black Stallion, #1)The Black Stallion by Walter Farley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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8. The Berenstain Bears and the Bad Dream. This book, is awesome. Brother Bear has these action figures he loves and a movie comes out based on them, but it’s aimed at an older demographic. He begs and begs and eventually gets to go, then has bad dreams as a result.

I think this is a fairly relevant issue, both when it was written and today. This book came to mind a few years back when I was at a screening of The Dark Knight and there were seven year olds there. Those kids definitely had nightmares. Did those parents even see the rating? But it’s not entirely their fault. When millions of dollars get sunk into marketing your character to kids and then you make a movie not for kids, there’s going to be issues.

They should have played the 60’s Batman movie in all the theaters next door. The kids would have never known the difference.

The Berenstain Bears and the Bad DreamThe Berenstain Bears and the Bad Dream by Stan Berenstain

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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7. The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies. This one, like many here, I remember because of the lesson it taught me. I was never bad in a store, and this book is the reason why. To this day I want to carry it around with me in the mall and hand it to parents when their kids are having a tantrum. “Take it. It explains everything.”

The Berenstain Bears Get the GimmiesThe Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies by Stan Berenstain

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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6. Runaway Ralph. I remember so little about this. I know it was the first chapter book I ever read, and the notion of the chapters confused my young mind. I thought they were each separate stories and that I could read them in any order, and did. I read it through like that (starting with Chapter Six, I recall) once before my teacher corrected me. I remember sighing and going: “Reading is Hard,” and starting again. Amen.

Runaway Ralph (Ralph S. Mouse, #2)Runaway Ralph by Beverly Cleary

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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5. The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Oh, Eric Carlyle, you magical man. Of course I remember this book. This book is meant to be remembered. The art was fantastic, with the little holes in the pages? Awesome. That never got old, when I was two.

The Very Hungry CaterpillarThe Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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4. Love You Forever. The one on the list that’s more for adults than for children. I still have my copy of this, and read it every once and a while. It’s a wonderful, heartbreakingly true story about the passage of time.

Love You ForeverLove You Forever by Robert Munsch

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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3. Where the Wild Things Are. My Dad used to read this to me all the time. And to both my sisters. He says it was all of our favorite book, which makes me wonder if it was actually his favorite children’s book. Either way, this isn’t so much a book for my family as a cherished family tradition.

Where the Wild Things AreWhere the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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2. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? Eric Carlyle, you God you. This one I read to my friend’s daughter Hannah from a very young age. We got it for her for her second birthday, I think, and I’d read it to her every day… many times a day, actually. Like, 40. A day. It was all she wanted to do some days. To the point where she could recite it and we thought she could read, but she had just memorized the words.

Still, it’s an engaging book for kids and (more than that) is a strong and emotional memory for me.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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PS: She loved making sounds of the animals. This book worked on so many levels.

And the number one Childhood Favorite is…

1. Grover Goes to School. This book used to make me cry when I was a kid. It kind of makes me cry sometimes now. I really identify with the blue Muppet more than I do any other literary character… isn’t that bizarre?

Grover Goes to School (Sesame Street Start-To-Read Books)Grover Goes to School by Dan Elliott

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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It tells the story of Grover, on his first day of school. He goes in with his lunch packed and his crayons and his truck and he’s very happy to be going. When he gets there, other people like his crayons and his truck and his sandwich and ask him to trade… and he doesn’t want to, but he wants them to like him so he does. At the end of the day, sitting there with toys he hates eating a lunch he can’t stand, it finally gets to him and he starts to cry. Molly saves the day and tells him it’s okay and gets his lunch back, and he learns he doesn’t need to give people things to fit in.

I feel like this some days. I feel like my need to please everybody takes too much out of me so that there’s not enough left for me. It makes me sad, in my most private moments. So I empathize with this book and character greatly.

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