When I was little I was an only child for quite awhile. My brother came when I was already thirteen, so for many years I spent time reading a lot of books growing up. I was also told a heapful of bedtime stories by my mother until I was about ten or eleven years old. She was quite particular when it came to the books she chose to read to me. Here are a few that I remember enjoying, including one Filipino title.
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1. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. I remember giving this also as a gift to a friend when her son turned a year old. It was one of my favorites when I was little. The only thing I didn't like about Goodnight Moon is that it was short, so I would ask my Mom to read it twice. It's a simple tale of a young rabbit observing his surroundings before bedtime. It really puts children in a sleepy mood especially if you let your voice fade out towards the end.
2. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. A lot of people mistakenly believe that The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling is only one story, Mowgli's Story. The chapter Mowgli's Brothers is actually just one part of the Jungle Book which is comprised of several stories. There's one about Kotick, the White Seal and there's also Kaa's story among several others. There's bits of poetry in between as well.
3. Chenelyn! Chenelyn! by Rhandee Carlitos. Some of us have people who help us at home and we can tend to overlook the fact that they might need some caring, too, sometimes. Mom brought this book, Chenelyn! Chenelyn! home before, it's published by Adarna House and I won't forget the lessons in it. The book's illustrations are also warm, whimsical, and positive.
4. The Famous Five Go Adventuring Again and The Secret Seven by Enid Blyton. One tradition I hope to pass down to my future kids is the reading of children's novels by British author, Enid Blyton. She had a collection before of short fantasy stories and then fiction stories about children in boarding schools and on different adventures. Two that are available locally are The Famous Five Go Adventuring Again and The Secret Seven (Book 1). Wholesome yet engaging, the novels are fun to read a chapter per evening if you're short on time for bedtime reading and make kids look forward to night after night 'til the end of the book. The titles below are the ones I inquired about available at Fully Booked. As a girl I personally loved her Malory Towers boarding school series but that isn't available locally.
5. Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel. This one is a story about a Chinese boy with a very long name who falls into a well and the efforts made to rescue him. There was a bit of a dispute before because it seems to have been a retelling of an old Japanese folktale but the characters are depicted as Chinese albeit somewhat inaccurately in terms of culture then. Nonetheless, even with the characters' ethnicity being somewhat in limbo the tale is still amusing. The author is American.
[related: Cheat Sheet: Learning to Listen in a World that Shouts]
6. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. This series of novels by C.S. Lewis is near and dear to my heart, the most popular of the series of six books being The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe which was made into a film along with two others. Enter a beautiful, magical land of talking animals and mythical characters where adventure, honor, and nobility reign. Follow the adventures of the Pevensie siblings together with other friends through a land called Narnia. This is the cover of the one I own at home, there may be newer covers.
7. When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six, both by A. A. Milne. These two books of poetry are from the tender literary genius of the author of Winnie-The-Pooh. A mix of memories with his own and other children intertwined with wit and wordplay ensure entertaining moments between you and your kids. There's so much love and good fun in every written nugget between these two books. These are the old editions seen here but they are still being sold in newer covers and are popular today. Fully Booked for sure carry a good A. A. Milne selection.
8. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. The grim adventures of the Baudelaire siblings summed up are a satirical take on glum circumstances. I love how the stories just acknowledge the grey reality of life sometimes but also how these children remain resilient, sharp, and caring and don't take their misfortunes sitting down. A Series of Unfortunate Events, thirteen books in total, is embroidered with with wit and employs the clever device of deeper vocabulary and words that are explained to its young readers as the stories progress.
9. Herds of Thunder, Manes of Gold by Bruce Coville. As a young girl I had a huge fascination with horses upwards from the age of five. My Mom was a gutsy lady, she put me on a horse in front of her when I was only a year old (with no guide) and she even made the horse go a bit fast. I loved it. I was also always, always drawing them from the age of six until I was about twelve years old. Every time we had family trips to Tagaytay or Baguio I wanted to ride the whitest horse there was (I think I was quite too minor to consciously be "racist" when it came to horses, but I think the "horse of a different color" scene in the film, Wizard of Oz was what influenced me, lol). The book Herds of Thunder, Manes of Gold contains well-known excerpts and poems about horses paired with beautiful watercolor illustrations. It contains the legend of Bucephalus (the tale mentioned to Alec by his father in "The Black Stallion" film) and the heartwarming story of Flicka and a couple of other stories and poems for every horse-lover out there. I read and re-read this book till the pages started to come away from the spine. The book is for boys and girls although local horse appreciation may be scarce. I am not sure if this book is available locally, more likely it is available abroad.
10. And To Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss. My favorite Dr. Seuss book wasn't The Cat in the Hat (I got stressed by the story, haha) and it wasn't Green Eggs and Ham (that was cool, but just alright) it was Dr. Seuss' lesser known first published children's book And To Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street. I love that I only discovered now as an adult writing this reading list for children that my favorite Dr. Seuss book was actually his first! It begins with a boy who sees a man driving a horse-drawn wagon and then his imagination seems to expand the story. I just loved this book it made me excited as a kid with every turn of the page. There was an old copy in my school library I think that I pulled out often and I also had my own at home.
I hope you enjoyed browsing through this reading list. As you can see, surprisingly some of the books I love and recommend are not the known "bestsellers" of those particular authors. Some are somewhat off-the-beaten-path choices. What I love about these books is they push children to expand their imaginations, views, character, and vocabulary. None are extremely simplistic or dialled down just because it's meant for children. I feel that kids ought to be challenged positively and led to believe in themselves to do greater things. These books provide a well-paved avenue for learning and delight.
Book images from Amazon.com, Wikipedia, Adarna.com.ph, Picclick.com, readalouddad.com, ammire.com, and pixabay.com