The Most Memorable Children's Stories

Backstory

I woke up this beautiful Easter morning thinking about my now 13 and 11 year old and how seldom I read to them at bedtime anymore. They still have bookcases full of long and short little books that we used to read together for hours when they were toddlers - their thumbs in their mouths, eyes transfixed on the page, and completely enraptured while I read, animating my voice as I spoke through the words of each character. I remember sometimes getting tired, and trying to occasionally skip a sentence, but my daughter would catch me on it - "Daddy, you missed that part!"

Every once in a while, even now, one of them will ask me to read one of those stories before they go to bed, and it's funny, but they're just as memorable, peaceful, even Zen-like to me.

So, this morning, I raided their bookshelves for a list of some of our favorite stories. There are so many, I can't possibly do them all justice, so if someone reading has a significant or particularly memorable book, please mention it. Here goes:

The baby years...

On the day I brought my daughter home from the hospital, there's a picture of me reading a Winnie the Pooh book to her on our rocking chair. Pooh books are great - and very Zen-like, and I read plenty of Pooh books to the kids over the years, because of their simplicity and peace. But not on Day One. That belongs to books like Chicka Chicka ABC: "Chicka chicka boom boom! Will there be enough room? Look who's coming! L M N O P!"

Sandra Boynton is a champ for young parents. I scooped up every book she created. From Moo, Baa, La La La!: "A cow says Moo. A sheep says BAA. Three singing pigs say LA LA LA! "No, no!" you say, "that isn't right. The pigs say OINK all day and night." From Barnyard Dance: "Stomp your feet! Clap your hands! Everybody ready for a barnyard dance! Bow to the horse. Bow to the cow. Twirl with the pig if you know how!"

Another of our favorites, still on my son's bookshelf, is Guess How Much I Love you. Little Nutbrown Hare is trying to tell his father, Big Nutbrown Hare how much he loves him: "I love you right up to the moon," he said, and closed his eyes. "Oh that's far," said Big Nutbrown Hare. He settled LNH down, kissed him good night, then as he drifted off to sleep, added, "I love you right up to the moon - and back."

The classics

Keep in mind, I'm compiling the list below from raiding my kids bookshelves this morning, so I expect to have forgotten or overlooked a number of really great kids stories, but there are a number of stories that transcend generations, and what I mean by that is that when I read them to my kids, they resonated. I have to say there are many that we want them to like, but they just don't. Here are some they really liked:

Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak. I can't believe they're going to make a movie based on the book. We'll see how that goes - sometimes these things are better in the quiet, connecting interpretation between you and the author. A similarly themed newer book my son also liked was The Salamander Room, by Anne Mazer.

The Funny Little Woman, by Arlene Mosel. I have no idea why my son likes this book so much, but he asked me to read it to him just the other night. Goofy little story!

Any Curious George book. The recent movie actually did these simple, fun little books some justice. Selecting Jack Johnson songs for the soundtrack was brilliant.

Caps For Sale, by Esphyr Slobodkina. Monkeys keep stealing a peddler's hats

Blueberries For Sal, by Robert McCloskey. A little girl and a bear cub get their mothers mixed up.

Fireflies in the Night, by Judy Hawes. When you live in California, kids can only imagine what fireflies are truly like!

Go, Dog. Go!, by P.D. Eastman. One of the very, very best kids books ever! Also great by this author: Are You My Mother?, and Snow, among many others.

Anything by Dr. Seuss, but I'll mention him in rhymes, limericks and funny stories next!

Rhymes, Limericks and Funny Stories!

I have to admit, there were some stories I love to read more than others, and I really loved reading stories that had a rhythm to them, which I could make into a song for them. First on those list are Seuss books:

Yertle the Turtle: "Deep in the heart of salamasond, Yertle the Turtle was king of the pond..." Green Eggs and Ham. The kids book of all kids books! One Fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish. I could go on and on.

Jack Prelutsky has created a huge inventory of short, fun little rhymes. I used to read the poems from Ride A Purple Pelican ("Justin Austin went to Boston, dressed in dusty jeans..."), and Beneath A Blue Umbrella.

A smattering of just fun books: Mrs. McNosh Hangs Up Her Wash, My Monster Mama Loves Me So! (I substituted "Daddy" when I read it! ;-)), Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs (the title alone is worth the price!), Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin (just a really run read about instruments coming together in an orchestra - instructional as well: "With steely keys that softly click, it's breezy notes so darkly slick, a sleek black woody clarinet is number seven - now septet!")

Laura Numeroff has a series of fun books, starting with If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, that are fun and easy to read. They always wrap around - one thing leads to another. David Shannon has a number of probably autobiographical books about a little boy getting into trouble, starting with "No, David!" Audrey and Don Wood have created a number of beautifully written and illustrated books, such as The Napping House, which my kids also really enjoyed.

Bedtime

I always kept my nighttime rituals the same with my kids - to give them a sense of safety, and to send them a signal the lights were about to go out and it was time to go to sleep! Here's how it went:

First I'd pick something peaceful and meditative to read to them. Something like Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen, Puddles, by Jonathan London, Kiss Good Night, by Amy Hest, or Lullaby Raft, by Naomi Shihab Nye. Or Guess How Much I Love You, mentioned above. Then I'd read the following two books, so religiously that even today, I have the entire text of the stories memorized. Here goes:

Boynton's The Going To Bed Book: "The sun has set not long ago. Now everybody goes below. To take a bath in one big tub, with soap all over - SCRUB SCRUB SCRUB! They hang their towels on the wall, and find pajamas, big and small. With some on top and some beneath, they brush and brush and brush their teeth. And when the moon is on the rise, they all go up to exercise! And down once more, but not so fast they're on their way to bed at last. The day is done. They say good night, and somebody turns off the light. The moon is high. The sea is deep. They rock and rock and rock to sleep."

Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon: "In the great green room there was a telephone. And a red balloon, and a picture of - the cow jumping over the moon. And there were three little bears sitting on chairs. And two little kittens, and a pair of mittens. And a little toyhouse. And a young mouse. And a comb and a brush and a bowl full of mush. And a quiet old lady who was whispering "hush." Goodnight room. Goodnight moon. Goodnight cow jumping over the moon. Goodnight light and the red balloon. Goodnight bears. Goodnight chairs. Goodnight kittens. And goodnight mittens. Goodnight clocks. And goodnight socks (our dog was named Socrates, so at this point, I'd interject the name of our other dog as well - "and goodnight Cleo!") Goodnight little house. And goodnight mouse. Goodnight comb, and goodnight brush. Goodnight nobody. Goodnight mush. And goodnight to the old lady whispering "hush." Goodnight stars. Goodnight air. Goodnight noises everywhere."

And nine nights out of ten, the kids' Mom would come in an hour later to wake me up, because I would fall asleep right beside them!

The most peaceful sleep you can ever imagine.

P.S.

 Check out my related hub:  The Most Memorable Children's Movies

Comments 18 comments

Pete Maida profile image

Pete Maida 7 years ago

You can't have been a parent without knowing at least some of those books.


Gerg profile image

Gerg 7 years ago from California Author

I had fun with this one. The only bad part was I'd linked up all of the books for convenience of the reader to Amazon, but Hubpages wouldn't allow it because of commercial content. I don't make a penny from this stuff - it's all just for fun and information sharing. Okay, I'm done with my mini-rant. Writing about these books really brought back some wonderful memories!


G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

Isn't that the trueth and there are great books now you can read to them...they are old enough to get into stories with chapters? I read to my children for years and they loved it...I would sit on the floor between their beds and read till they fell asleep...amazingly they all read today...me?? heck I just fall asleep and have to read over and over the same words...LOL  (little old lady) ha ha Thanks this was good...G-Ma :O) Hugs

P.S. so happy to hear you as their father read to them...


Gerg profile image

Gerg 7 years ago from California Author

Thanks G-Ma.  I always loved to read as a child.  I was one of those kids of whom my parents would always brag to their friends was always reading.  I devoured books.  I always wanted to pass that gift along to my kids, and more importantly, it gave me one significant thing that connected me with the kids.  I'm sure I read to them every day from the day we brought them home until a couple of years ago.  It's such a bonding experience - so much so that my 11-year old boy still asks me to read him something all the time.  And my daughter devours books - read the entire Harry Potter series by the time she was either 9 or 10, and now has read through the whole Twilight series three or four times through!


Midtown Girl profile image

Midtown Girl 7 years ago from Right where I want to be!

Being a huge fan and collector of children's books, you have inspired me to compile my own list of books read, loved, shared, and cherished by my children when they were growing up.  Then I have to ask myself if I really have time for that.  What a lengthy, wonderful list it would be!

Fantastic hub!


Gerg profile image

Gerg 7 years ago from California Author

Thank you again, MTG! There are so so many more books I could list here. I keep trying to restart the children's book I started with the kids, and they're getting older, so I hope I haven't lost my window of creative childish energy with them. Regardless, I still love the feeling I get by remembering and reciting the words to these wonderful books.

I appreciate your comment! ;-)


Jackwms profile image

Jackwms 7 years ago

I was 5 years old when Pearl Harbor was attacked and the U.S. entered WWII. At the time our family lived in a remote area near Placerville, California, with no electricity, telephone, or indoor plumbing. My dad was away in the war effort. I remember my mother reading to my brother, sister, and I every night by lamp light. 

 

There was no television during the war years, of course.  As I have mentioned previously, our house had no electricity, telephone, bathroom, or hot water  We had a radio, battery operated, which was used essentially for the nightly news.   We had no means of getting to movies or any other entertainment source.  We looked forward each day to the time around eight o'clock when Mom would read to us.

Mom would sit in an overstuffed chair or on the couch and we three would squeeze in around her while she read by the dim light of a kerosene lamp.  I remember many, many books.  Among them were the Billy Whiskers series, The Four Little Blossoms, Little Men, Little Women, Uncle Remus and The Jungle Book.  We also looked forward to a monthly magazine, "Wee Wisdom", and its continued stories.  For those who have experienced the privilege of being read to as a child, I think most will agree that this relationship creates a special family bonding.  It did with us.


Gerg profile image

Gerg 7 years ago from California Author

Wow - what a great comment, Dad - thank you! I believe I have your Four Little Blossoms book on my bookshelf, a special addition among many antique books. It warms my heart to think you have such special memories reading it with a Grandmother I never had the privilege to know. I will cherish it forever.


Jackwms profile image

Jackwms 7 years ago

The most phenomenal computer the world has ever known is the human mind. There may be discrepancies, but the memories that remain over decades, sometimes up to a century or more, cannot be replicated by any computer currently in operation. That is why it is such a waste to not draw upon the wisdom and history of the elderly, including those in nursing homes who would really like to tell the world about how it was way back when.


Gerg profile image

Gerg 7 years ago from California Author

I agree - that perspective is invaluable. I'm listening.


Linda Dimitroff 7 years ago

Greg, You came up with a great list of books. I know I really enjoyed reading to my children and now my grandchildren. I know that finding time to read to older children can be a challenge. We arranged for awhile to share books at dinner time. All 4 of us would take turns reading something. It could be a poem,short story and a short book. That was a wonderful experience. Our family does has the tradition of reading stories on Christmas Eve. That is very magical. Happy future reading.


Gerg profile image

Gerg 7 years ago from California Author

Thank you for your comments, Linda - good to hear from you!


Deb 7 years ago

Greg - this is a wonderful story that brought tears to my eyes as I remembered bedtime with my daughter Tina. Her dad used to make stories up and tell them to her at night when she stayed at his house. When she was with me, I would take her to the library and we would pick books out. I would read her books about other cultures, acceptance, love, trust, truth....what I could find to teach her about morals and to love others. I remember finding cassette tapes of different types of ethnic music or classical music, and play it as she fell asleep.

The best times for us though, were the morning rituals, esp. on Thursdays. We'd get up early and head to the bagel shop and sit and have juice, coffee (for me) and these remarkably wonderful bagels. On the way to school I'd run her spelling words with her and teach her things like the sign language alphabet or how to count in spanish. The BEST ritual though, was the first Wednesday of the month when she had early out day and the Planetarium and Aquarium at Golden Gate Park offered free admission. I'd pick Tina up at school before noon, take her to Red Lobster in Vallejo for cheese biscuits, clam chowder and huge virgin strawberry margaritas. We'd then drive to a place that raises miniature ponies then off to GG Park.

She's 24 now and we do food art with leftovers and since she knows I believe there's a song in everything, we play song games while driving; she gives me a word and I try and remember a song containing that word. She's stumped me only twice with cement and concrete :-)

WOW! Thanks for the walk down memory lane Greg.


Gerg profile image

Gerg 7 years ago from California Author

You're welcome, Deb - glad I could oblige!


epigramman profile image

epigramman 4 years ago

.....well first of all thank you for your royal endorsement of my humble little hubspace - coming from such a great writer like you - it really means a lot - and yes I will post this most essential and meaningful hub subject to my Facebook page with a direct link back here because it has stirred up a lot of memories for me - often some of these books have more meaning and make more sense to an adult which is quite an irony in itself I would think - my hub buddy Writer 20 writes fabulous children's stories - please check her out if you have the time and tell her I sent you - so very nice to meet you my friend - you have a wonderful assortment of hubs here. lake erie time ontario canada 12:29pm

p.s. - your profile picture reminds me somewhat of my existence here where I live but 100 feet away from the beach and lake of erie


Gerg profile image

Gerg 4 years ago from California Author

Wow - thank you, epigramman! Such kind words. I will check out your hub reference and I will read more of yours as well. I'm venturing into poetry, which I've seldom done before, and had seen some positive press on your works.

My profile pic is from a trip to Key West this past year. It feels to me reflective, like I feel when I'm writing.

Best, G


unknown spy profile image

unknown spy 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

I am so pleased to meet one great writer here in HP. Amazing hubs!


Gerg profile image

Gerg 4 years ago from California Author

Thank you, unknown spy!

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