Here's some of our favorite children's books! Mekayla Trout, who has done some book reviews for us before, is also contributing to the post today!
Julie- I’m not quite as old as Uncle Morty, but I’m digging back into my childhood for recommendations. I am going to recommend Frog and Toad and Winnie the Pooh. All of our readers already know my brain is spring-besotted and flower-obsessed, and both these book series put me in mind of gardens, forests, rain on the roof, tea shared with friends. In fact, I think if you could take a tiny peek into the real estate of my brain, you would find a good portion taken up by the Hundred Acre Wood. It’s bordered by the River where Frog and Toad swim. Toad’s flower garden is there too, the one he agonizes over until the first seedlings sprout.
Not only are these books part of my inner gardenscape, both series focus on the importance of deep abiding friendships, even when your friends are as grumpy as Toad, as sad as Eeyore, as scatterbrained as Pooh, or as frightened as Piglet. I know that there are lots of new, great book series out there for kids, but these books are still close to my heart, and they haunt my gardens, a lovely, hovering dream.
Jarad- The books I loved as a child were classic fantasy: great, burgeoning quests, witches, wizards, dragons were mostly what I read, and any book with those themes I immediately devoured. I made it my mission to read all those that I could find in both the school and the public library (consequently, Halloween will always be my favorite holiday). I'm located in the South, and I know a lot of people who were restricted in their reading as a child, and I'm lucky that those ridiculous rules were never imposed on me. The Hobbit, Harry Potter, and the Lost Years of Merlin series come to mind. As a result, I was often lost in my head most of the time (and sometimes still am). I was also always reading under the table during math class because who needs adding or division when you have book? My teacher, unfortunately, did not see it that way. Apparently, math is essential or something.
Mekayla- My absolute favorite children’s series is, without a doubt, Avalon: Web of Magic written by Rachel Roberts and illustrated by Allison Strom. Avalon: Web of Magic is a twelve part series that celebrates female friendship. The prophecy follows as such: A warrior, a mage, and a rising star will either work together and save all of magic, or one will turn dark and betray her friends, opening the door to all dark magic.
Emily, Adriane, and Kara all find themselves drawn to the woods of Ravenswood Preserve, where they find more than just the protected species that are supposed to reside there. From impossible animals to magic itself, the girls find themselves stumbling into a world far wilder than anything they’ve yet experienced in their young lives and become the new subjects of a generations old prophecy. As the stakes raise around them, the girls must not only battle the forces of dark magic, but also the real-world problems of fighting to save the animal preserve from those who would rather see the land developed.
The story and bonds between characters are a heartwarming work of art. Rachel Roberts weaves a wonderful narrative and Allison Strom brings scenes to life in a way that still stays with me to this day. But I would recommend these books for more than the story and art. These books had a big part in teaching me that other girls were not my competition, but rather could be friends who shared many of the same experiences that came along with being a ten-year-old girl. Avalon was also my first experience making friends through books and the beginning of a life-long love of reading. I will always treasure these books and them memories I have of them. I hope you love them as well.
Morty- Your Uncle Morty has been burned by this assignment before. Due to my age and current state of childlessness, I am out of the loop on what is appropriate for the whippersnappers. I have learned that old French fairy tales, for instance Little Red Riding Hood, in which the wolf kills the grandmother and then, shall we say, feeds Little Red a platter of rather interesting grandma-flavored snacks, is now only studied by scholars. Upon reflection, I must agree that often newfangled methods are a great improvement over the old ones. Still, children understand more of chaos and evil than we give them credit for and are drawn to study darkness as a matter of self-preservation. Perhaps we give them the happy ending as a reflection of the world we want to live in, a matter of hope.
As such, I still recommend fairy stories, although I would certainly think carefully about which ones to share, see above. Larger than life matters of justice, mercy, and wit are laid out, with all due attention to the contrast between the light and the dark. Those I would recommend most highly are the mystic and nuanced works of my old friend, George MacDonald. The light in these stories shines brighter than the darkness and demands loyalty out of hope not certainty. Children can sniff out the scent of false positivity quite well. The other children’s authors I might recommend are Oscar Wilde and Hans Christian Anderson, both of whom tell tales where beauty and sorrow are the twisted roots of the same tree, bearing the fruit of an almost excruciating empathy. As an aside, all children’s books of a certain age require the vigilance of parents to parse the historical context.