Dwight Garner of The New York Times just shared his family’s favorite children’s books. I’ll have to admit, I haven’t read any of them. But I plan to now. His article reminds me what a personal thing books are. Different sorts of people will be attracted to different kinds of books. Garner writes about Eden Ross Lipson who was the Times’ children’s book editor for many years:

She wouldn’t recommend a book for your children until she knew everything about them and, almost as importantly, everything about you. She’d need to grill you. Her interrogations were tests of character.

But more than that I think its interesting how the books we read become part of a shared family narrative. One story that Garner thinks should become a classic is Mark Alan Stamaty’s 1973 picture book, Who Needs Donuts?

whoneedsdonutsIt’s one I’ve read to my children at least 500 times. To this day we can’t drive past a Dunkin’ Donuts without someone in the back seat plaintively or sarcastically mewling the book’s central question: “Who needs doughnuts, when you’ve got love?”

The stories that I have been reading to The Kid are different from Garners. Many of them have been published after his children started reading on their own, but I hope they can also have the same effect and bring a family closer together.

The Kid is better at recounting his day at this point than quoting from books. But just a few weeks ago he really surprised us. He started talking about a family day trip we took maybe eight months earlier. I figured it had been long since forgotten, as he was one and a half at the time. But there he was, recounting the memorable moments of the trip while we all ate breakfast.

I guess the lesson is, we can help write the story, but our children, based on who they are, will put the final touches on the narrative because of what they take an interest in and find valuable.

Garner’s list avoided many of the famous children’s books that we all know and included such stories as Little Polar Bear and The Giant Ball of String. Here’s my list of five under-the-radar books that should be classics:

What are your future classics?





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