The Gruffalo meets Goodnight Moon
I and my family absolutely love children’s books – our house is full to bursting with the likes of Judith Kerr, John Burningham, Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl and C.S Lewis.
And we wouldn’t be truly alive if we didn’t ritually read and recite The Gruffalo, The Tiger who Came to Tea, Albie and the Space Rocket, Thomas & Friends and Charlie & Lola every night at bed time. These are what my children are growing up with – these are the stories they will remember and perhaps introduce to their own children one day. The type of language that is used in these storybooks – the easy to remember phrases and sing song ‘lyrics’ are part of what makes these stories so loveable and memorable for our children. The average British child can recognise the cover illustrations, the characters and the words of these storybooks quicker than you can say “Harry Potter!” I just love it all. I suppose it is a way to stay in touch with our own inner child and to delight in seeing our children’s lives enriched by an imaginative, intelligent and far-reaching world these books offer.
The books I read and loved as a child are not so prevalent here in the UK. For partly nostalgic reasons and partly because I want to share with my children the cultural references I grew up with, I try and introduce storybooks I grew up with, books that were so influential in my upbringing and childhood. Books I remember fondly and that bring back memories of my own family culture – an American family culture.
One of my best loved, best memories as a very young child is being read Goodnight Moon. This book is a classic in American Children’s liturature and well loved by myself, my siblings and millions of American children then and now. I am thankful to have received two copies of this beloved book for my children – one from my parents and one from some American friends from our time in Prague (who are now married as well with children and live in the US). By introducing this storybook from my childhood (and it is a magical book – in a way a simplistic rhyming poem describing a bunny’s bedtime routine of saying goodnight to things in his room) and emphasising my love for it as a child and it’s inherent American quality, I am passing down to my children an American memory that will become one of theirs too.
With the help of Amazon, I am able to share with my children books from my own childhood in America in addition to creating memories for them that are inherently British. We have a real mix of books and storybooks and because I relate my own story about the American books, they have a real understanding of what they meant to me as a child growing up in the US. They are fascninated by this and recognise that this is something special between us. I even have a few original copies of these books that I actually held and read 36 years ago. Amazing. And I have my own mother to thank for that – she kept these beloved books for me to read to my own children. Very wise, very loving. Ok I better wrap this up, I’m getting choked up and don’t want to go on the school run sobbing my eyes out!
Here is a list of books I recommend from American authors:
Storybooks for toddlers
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd
The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd
The Poky Little Puppy by a Texan author Janette Sebring Lowrey
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Moonboy by Carolyn Garcia
The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by Dubose Heyward and Marjorie Flack
The Christmas Cat by Efner Tudor Holmes, illustrated by Tasha Tudor
Reading books for children
Nitter Pitter by Stephen Cosgrove
The Black Stallion by Walter Farley (and also Little Black. A Pony – for younger readers)
Blaze Finds the Trail by C.W. Anderson
The Hardy Boys (published under the collective pseudonym Franklin W. Dixon)
Nancy Drew (published under the collective pseudonym Carolyn Keene)
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
A Wind in The Door by Madeleine L’Engle
The Aventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
If you have a children’s book to recommend from your own cultural background, no matter where you are from, please do!