Friday, February 24, 2017

Sit Back and Relax--All You Need Is a Book

Wit, Wisdom, Intrigue--It's All There

(No payment or compensation of any kind has been received for books and articles mentioned in this post. All writing/opinions are my own.) 

You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.
                                                   --Madeleine L'Engle, author

A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.
                                                  --C.S. Lewis, author

Writing a picture book is like writing "War and Peace" in Haiku.
                                                    --Mem Fox, author

Years ago, I participated in a weekend seminar in a nearby town. The keynote speaker started the first session by reading aloud a children's picture book. I knew at that moment this was going to be a good seminar. This speaker knew the value of using children's literature with adults. 

I have been an avid reader since childhood, and I have never outgrown my love of children's literature. In my last blog post, I mentioned how even children's picture books can be powerful and poignant. It is my deep belief that children's literature is often not just for children. Adults can find great stories, humor, and wisdom by reading children's books. So for today's post, I would like to feature some books for children that I would recommend to adults. Some of these selections are "oldies but goodies", but all are available at libraries and in book stores.

The Giver by Lois Lowry
I'm a retired educator, and this was one of my favorite books to use with fifth graders. Discussions of this book were always deep and rich. And it never failed when I assigned this book, parents of my students would read it as well, become intrigued with the book, and then would call or email me wanting to get in on the discussion! This book deals with the theme of safety vs. freedom--an appropriate topic for our current culture. Lois Lowry has written two companion books, Gathering Blue and The Messenger. These books continue the story and the intrigue.

Quotes from books by Lois Lowry
"It's the choosing that's important, isn't it?"

"Even trained for years as they all had been in precision of language, what words could you use which would give another the experience of sunshine?"

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
This charming book is adventurous and includes a twist toward the end of the book that rivals any books written for adults. Mrs. Frankweiler, a memorable character, is full of wisdom and wit. 

Quotes from books by E. L. Konigsburg
"Happiness is excitement that has found a settling down place, but there is always a little corner that keeps flapping around."

"I think you should learn, of course, and some days you must learn a great deal. But you should also have days when you allow what is already in you to swell up inside of you until it touches everything. And you can feel it inside of you. If you never take time out to let that happen, then you accumulate facts, and they rattle around inside of you. You can make noise with them but never really feel anything with them. It's hollow."

"The eyes are the windows of the soul...If someone was to look into your eyes, what would you want them to see?"

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
This book is the winner of the 1963 Newbery Award for the best children's book of the year. It is full of fanciful adventures as the characters solve a mystery in their own space and time. It will engage the imagination of adults as well as children. This book is part of a series which also includes A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and Many Waters.

Quotes from books by Madeleine L'Engle
"Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You're given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself."

"Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light."

"We can't take any credit for our talents. It's how we use them that counts."

"The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been."

"Stories make us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving."

Bud, Not Buddy and The Watsons Go To Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
To read these two award winning books is to be transported back in time to the Great Depression (in Bud, Not Buddy) and to both America's Great Migration and the Civil Rights Movement (in The Watsons Go To Birmingham). This very talented author allows readers to view history through the lives of believable and endearing characters. These are powerful, not to be missed, books. 

Quotes from books by Christopher Paul Curtis
"A bud is a flower-to-be. A flower in waiting. Waiting for just the right warmth and care to open up. It's a little fist of love waiting to unfold and be seen by the world. And that's you."

"Things aren't ever what they seem to be when you first look at them. What's important is to keep your mind wide open and try to understand what's going on from a lot of different angles."

Esperanza Rising and When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan
This prolific author has written many notable books, but these are two of my favorites. Esperanza Rising is the story of a family forced by a tragedy to leave their home in Mexico and emigrate to California during the Great Depression. A beautiful picture book illustrated by Brian Selznick, When Marian Sang is the story of Marian Anderson. The book focuses on Marian's childhood dreams and the struggle it took for Marian to realize those dreams as an adult in a segregated country. 

Quotes from books by Pam Munoz Ryan
"We are like the phoenix...rising again with a new life ahead of us."

"Oh...I think my heart is dancing."

"How many others were walking around and not even knowing that someone far away cared for them? Imagine all that love floating in the air, waiting to land on someone's life."

"Music does not have a race or a disposition. Every instrument has a voice that contributes. Music is a universal language...Music surpasses all distinctions between people."

"Everybody has a heart. Sometimes you gotta work hard to find it."

"The words he had written wriggled off the page and escaped from the drawer. The letters stacked themselves, one on top of the other. Their towers reached higher and higher until they stood majestic and tall...HUMANITY. SOLIDARITY. GENEROSITY. PEACE. JUSTICE. LOVE. Then a tiny, conceited word came along. Like a hungry termite, it began to gnaw on the tall words, chewing at their foundation, gulping their pulp until they swayed, toppled, and collapsed. All that remained was one fat, satisfied syllable. FEAR."

The Trellis and the Seed: A Book of Encouragement for All Ages by Jan Karon, paintings by Robert Gantt Steele
Jan Karon is absolutely one of my favorite authors. Most people know her for her Mitford series books, but she has also writtten a few picture books for children. This simple, yet beautiful, story is definitely a treat for both children and adults as the subtitle implies. 

Quotes from Jan Karon's The Trellis and the Seed
"It was only a seed, and very, very small. How could it ever be a beautiful vine with blossoms?"

"Just start...The job is half done when you've made a beginning."

Other memorable children's books recommended for adults:

  • The Eagle and the Wren by Jane Goodall--a fable retold beautifully by this author and anthropologist
  • Feathers and Fools by Mem Fox--a powerful picture book that is suitable for older children and adults
  • Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters by Barack Obama--a delightful book recommended for individuals and families

Do you have any favorite children's books? What lessons have you learned from reading children's books? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

While writing this post, I found and read an article, posted on The Week's Best Stories from NPR Books, about the percentage of characters in children's books that are people of color as of 2016. You can read the article here.

Note: The blog post title is a quote from Dr. Seuss.

Linked with:
Marilyn's Treats 


  1. It may seem like a lot, but picture books are normally quick and easy to read. The reader gets lots of value for the time invested!

  2. Thank you, Sharon, for sharing these wonderful books with us! I have read some, but not all of the titles you mention and now I must go hunting for them! A Wrinkle In Time is one of my favorites that I have read with children. You are correct that these books bring about rich discussion and thinking...not just for children, but also for adults. The messages are timeless and ones that definitely need to be heard in today's world.

  3. Thank you so much for linking at #overthemoon! I look forward to seeing what you share every week. Please come back for #WonderfulWednesday or #ThursdayFavoriteThings. Don't forget to comment your link #'s so I can be sure to visit and you get a chance to be featured! Pinned and shared.

  4. Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog, Marilyn. I'm a beginning blogger so your comments are very helpful. I do plan on linking, and I've found some blogs I really enjoy through your link parties.


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