Leave it to the Wall Street Journal to make me think. I read their brief list of popular children’s books and thought, “Gee, am I old or what?” Still, it was a pleasant trip down memory lane to read the list of 25 books excerpted from the New York Public Library’s list of 100 great kids’ reads. I could, however, have done without the reference to many of them being “practically antiques.”
The list included books published from 1926-2007, and I quickly realized I hadn’t read any dated after 1957. Sometime in the next few years, my reading level must have moved up to chapter books like the Bobbsey Twins.
Several on the list brought back memories of trips to the library in New York City with my mom. We had to take the bus, so it was a big deal. Who remembers “Make Way for Ducklings” published in 1941? Or “Curious George,” which came out the same year? Also on the early list are “The Story of Ferdinand” and “Madeline,” both of which I read, and “The Cat in the Hat,” which is still on my bookshelf.
“The Hobbit” and “Winnie-the-Pooh” both made the list. I read “The Hobbit” but was in the sixth or seventh grade by that time, and please don’t judge, but I never read “Winnie-the-Pooh.” I’m not sure how the WSJ chose which 25 to put in their write-up, but I was happy to find at least one more title I was familiar with when I located the complete list of 100 on the New York Public Library’s website — “Pippi Longstocking.” And that was it for what I’d read as a child.
I’ve heard of later books on the list, like “Where the Wild Things Are,” but never read them. I assume that those who have children and grandchildren are much more in the know about the books published in later years. The one I’m very familiar with is “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” since I read all the Harry Potter books as an adult. Heck, I’ve even read J.K. Rowling’s mysteries.
I wonder what happened to “Black Beauty,” “Beautiful Joe,” and “Big Red”—all of them on my bookshelf of childhood books along with “Heidi” and “The Five Little Peppers” series. No matter, it seems that Frank Zappa’s quote, “So many little books, so little time,” holds true for children’s books too.
Author Kathy Manos Penn is a Sandy Springs resident. Find her cozy mysteries on Amazon and at the Enchanted Forest. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.