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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Life-Long Love Affair With Children's Books

One of the longest and steadiest relationships in my life has been with books.  I'm sure it started at a very young age, because I can't remember the first time I held a book.
We have a favorite family story, where as soon as my parents brought my brother home from the hospital, I sat down next to him, plopped open a book, and started teaching him how to read.  I was 2.  The book didn't have any words.  Needless to say, he eventually needed more help.
I come by this love naturally.  I distinctly remember being on furlough (for missionaries, it's a time set aside after every 4 years, when they go back to the States, and visit their support churches), and being drug by my mother to every used book store from Texas, through Missouri and up on to Virginia.  I remember one summer, she was particularly frantic, trying to find "Snip, Snap and Snur" and "Flicka, Ricka and Dicka" books, by Maj Lindman.  (These are some vintage children's books, both series focus on a set of triplets - boys, and girls.  They're very Scandinavian/Nordic in style, and my mom being of Norwegian heritage, I guess felt it to be her duty to have a complete collection.  If you're interested in these, I found my favorite at

So, I suppose that's where I get it from.  I like to read most any kind of book, but I would rather curl up with a children's book, or young adult book any day!  I know about, and love books that I think most people my age don't, and I feel like they're really missing out.  And now that we're the ones starting families, I think it would be great to bring these books back.  So today, I will compile some of my all-time favorites for you.

1. The Sound Of the Bell by Penny Anderson, 1983
This is a wonderful book about a refugee family that gets separated from each other.  The oldest sister has to take care of her little brother while they search for their mother and the sound of the bell that is sewn into her sleeve.  In case you want to get this book, you can find it at

2. Princess Tales by Nora Kramer, 1971
This was my go-to bedtime storybook.  It has 8 stories about princesses that take charge, use their brains, and do their own saving.  Even though we like to think we portray women's roles in a modern light to our girls, how often do we resort to the Disney-type characterization of princesses, and real beauty?  These stories focus on real value in women - practicality, compassion, and inner beauty.  Love them!  Available at

3. The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco, 1998
It's hard to choose just one Patricia Polacco book for this list, but this is my all-time favorite.  It follows Jewish immigrants to America, where they make a quilt from scraps from their clothes "coming over".  They have many uses for it, and cherish it for many generations.  You can find it at

4. The True Princess by Angela E Hunt, 1993
This story is about a princess whose father goes off to war, and needs her to be safe, and go incognito.  During this time she learns to serve others, entertain herself and do things independently.  When the king returns all the girls in the land try to convince him that they're the princess, but behave in a way unbecoming of a princess - except for his daughter, the true princess.  The same author wrote the story, The Three Trees.

5. The Last Dance by Carman Agra Deedy, 1995
I really commend my mom for having this in our library.  It's a little more serious than parents may be used to, however it deals with life and death in a beautiful and even calming way.  The Last Dance is about a girl and boy, and their friendship, that later blossoms into life-long love.  Throughout the story, they "visit" the boy's grandfather at the cemetery, and dance for him, promising they will do the same for each other when one of them dies.

6. The Best Loved Doll by Rebecca Caudill, 1962
This is a timeless tale of a girl, and her love for her doll.  Betsy is invited to a party, where they will be giving awards for the most beautiful doll, the oldest doll, and the doll that can do the most things.  She has dolls that are all those things, but what about Jennifer?  With her faded dress, bandages on her cheeks, matted hair, and bare feet.  She isn't any of those things, but she's Betsy's favorite. What will she do?

7. Too Many Mittens by Florence and Louis Slobodkin, 1958
Louis Slobodkin has many heart-warming children's books.  This one always makes me smile.  "The twins" lose one of their red mittens, so it gets around, that if anyone finds a red mitten, it must be the twins'.  Everyone brings them mittens, until they have over 10 pairs.  They decide to hang them on a line, for anyone who is REALLY missing their mittens.  This book is bona-fide vintage, so it's hard to find it for a reasonable price, but ebay is probably a good place to start, and carries it as well.

8. Princess Bee and the Royal Good-Night Story by Sandy Asher, 1990
This book isn't hard to find online, but none of the places I found it had a cover picture.  I think more people would buy it if there was, the illustrations are so sweet.  When I was little, my mom travelled some, and this book helped me with separation anxiety. It's about a princess whose Mum goes on a trip, so she's not able to tell her her bedtime story like usual.  The royal big sister, royal big brother and the king all try to help, but it's not the same.  "Mum never runs out of story before I fall asleep", Bee says.

9. Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say, 1993
This story follows the narrator's grandfather's immigration from Japan to America.  It's an excellent portrayal of turn-of-the-century America, and the emotions of being drawn to two homelands; something that I, as a missionary kid struggled with too.

10. Today I Feel Silly: And Other Moods That Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis, 1998
This isn't an old book, but I don't think enough people know about, or use this book.  As someone who has always been emotional, it was comforting to have a book that said that emotions are okay, and that some days you feel a certain way.  My favorite was "Today I feel quiet, Mom understands.  We went to the movies, and then we held hands." (That was from memory, folks!  The power of books!)  If you have a child that struggles decoding social cues, there's a great wheel at the back where you can match the face to the emotion.  I think this would be perfect for the first week of school as well.

I found a website called, and they have many of the books I listed.  You can borrow physical copies, but many of them also have digital copies you can read.  For example, Princess Bee and the Royal Good-Night Story, Princess Tales and Grandfather's Journey are available to read through your browser.  Perfect for reading to a class!  All you have to do is create an account.  It's a wonderful resource that I'm sure I will be using.

I hope you feel inspired to visit some used book stores, search the web, or maybe give your mom a call, to help you remember your favorite book growing up!  I have vivid memories attached to each one of these books, and I'm sure there are books like that for you too.  So find them, share them, and let's give every child the print rich environment they deserve!


  1. I am overwhelmed!!! This is the best blog post ever!!! The quality of the writing and the content blew me away! And I'm Mom!! What an insightful valuable piece. You are delightful <3

  2. Thank you so much mom, for the very sweet comment, but also for instilling and nurturing this love in me! If I'm half the mom to my kids that you are to me, I'll be pleased!

  3. I agree with your Mom - beautiful post. Thank you for sharing. I look forward to hunting many of these down and sharing with my children (especially Princess Tales with my daughter.) I pinned this in hopes others might see your beautiful descriptions of the books and be inspired. (I hope that was okay) Thank you!

  4. I'm glad you pinned it, I hope more people visit it, and that hopefully these wonderful books will be read and cherished for years to come! Thank you for your kind comment, and for taking the time to stop by!