My five kids are grown now (four boys and one girl), and most of them have children of their own. It’s been such a long time since I sat down to read aloud to them that I had to send out a Facebook request. “Please help Mom remember the books you loved most when you were kids,” I messaged. After a few hesitant responses from my eldest, Jeff, it was as if a faucet opened up and memories of beloved books poured out.
“That one with the purple crayon!” said Jeff.
“Harold and the Purple Crayon,” I told him.
“The one with the raining cheeseburgers!” said Joe.
“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” Jeff messaged back.
“Goodnight Moon!” “Where the Wild Things Are!” “Bunnicula!” “Ramona the Pest!” “Clifford!” “Amelia’s Notebook!” “Dr. Seuss books!”
The list got longer and longer and soon it was tough to choose, but these five came out on top.
By Tony Ross
It’s not hard to figure out why this was my son Nick’s favorite book when he was young. My daughter Hannah put it on her favorites’ list, too. I think we all loved the idea of a character named Nicky being “naughty” because our Nick was such a sweetheart. (Except for that time he hid a pail filled with frogs in his granddad’s closet!)
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston | 1983 | ISBN-13: 978-0030635229
“Run, run, run…as fast as you can. You can’t catch me, I’m the stinky cheese man!” That’s probably the most remembered line from all of the books we devoured when my kids were little. The combination of familiar fairytales and elementary-school humor is absolute genius!
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers | 1992 | ISBN-13: 978-0670844876
By Pamela Service
I’m pretty sure this book sparked an ongoing love of fantasy/adventure books for my son Sean. He caught the fantasy bug from me and it’s lead to a lifetime of great books for him. When I ended up in a writer’s group with Pam Service, I thought I’d gone to kid-lit heaven.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Yearling | 1992 | ISBN-13: 978-0375840883
By James Stevenson
Of my five children, only one—Joe—was a reluctant reader as a kid. But he was never reluctant when it came to any book written and illustrated by James Stevenson. We all loved the deadpan humor of the Grandpa whose days seemed so ordinary telling his grandkids grandiose tales of things that had happened to him when he was young.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Greenwillow Books | 1987 | ISBN-13: 978-0688070359
By Ruth Bornstein
This one got top marks from my daughter. As the youngest child, she identified with the adorable little gorilla everyone loved. Along with Little Gorilla, Hannah discovered that as she grew, and grew, and GREW, she was still loved by Mom, Dad, and all four big brothers.
Ages 2 and up | Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers | 2000 | ISBN-13: 978-0618051588
About Kim T. Griswell
Kim T. Griswell is a developmental editor for Uncle John’s Bathroom Readers and the former coordinating editor of Highlights for Kids. She helps develop and teach writers’ workshops with the Highlights Foundation and has taught with the Institute for Children’s Literature. Kim is the author of the popular Rufus Goes to School (2013) and has published more than 200 short stories, articles, and columns.
Publisher’s Synopsis: Ahoy—Pirate Pig on board! What does a book-loving pig like Rufus do when school’s out for summer? He turns to his favorite stories for inspiration, of course! And before long, he’s dreaming of days filled with adventure and nights under blankets of stars. It’s the pirate life for him, matey. But Captain Wibblyshins says NO PIGS ON PIRATE SHIPS! After all, pigs get tangled in the rat lines, they picnic in the crow’s nest, and worst of all, they even wipe their chins with the Jolly Roger. Can Rufus convince the Captain that he’s no landlubber swine? And could his ticket to piratehood be . . . reading?
Kids will love seeing Rufus conquer new worlds in this delightful follow-up to the popular Rufus Goes to School.
Ages 3-6 | Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books | 2015 | ISBN-13: 978-1454910527
Kim T. Griswell, author of Rufus Goes to Sea, selected these five family favorites. Discover more articles on The Children’s Book Review tagged with Family Favorites, Sterling Children’s Books, and Kim T. Griswell.
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