As we are surrounded by gifts at this time of year, I have been thinking about one of my favorite things: books. We are a big bookish family. SillyBilly, who is 4, wants to read but can't yet. We're not pushing him, but if he wants to, he will (I learned when I was 4 as well).
So, I've been thinking about desert island books. The ones we couldn't live without.
Anything by Shirley Hughes
These books are marvelous for young children. Alfie and Annie Rose happen to be just about the same ages as my children, so we delight in reading about their adventures. The books have a lot of humorous situations and detailed illustrations. We love Out and About for its seasonal poetry and images.
Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel
These stories are very funny for kids and parents, and are short enough to be good bedtime reading. Frog and Toad are sort of like amphibious toddlers: they can't stop eating cookies, they have tremendous misunderstandings, and they love both a good walk outside and a warm bed at night.
Seasons books by Gerda Muller
We especially like these books because they have no text; we can make up stories and talk about the detailed pictures afresh each time. They are large board books so that they are sturdy yet not too "babyish" for big brothers to read!
Anything by Jan Brett
These books have very detailed illustrations and are full of good humor. Often there are little surprises, like the animal-shaped mountains in Daisy Come Home, or the hedgehogs that appear at least once in almost all of her books.
Any fiction by Wendell Berry
The stories about the fictional Kentucky town of Port William make me laugh and cry, sometimes on the same page! The characters are so well developed that I believe these are real people that Berry knows. The stories are beautifully intertwined and reflect a deep love for traditional farming communities.
The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood
I keep coming back to this book time and again. I love how the characters are so richly drawn, written with both humor and sympathy for their foibles. The three protagonists could not be more different in background and personality, yet they forged friendships that lasted decades.
Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O'Shea
This book is full of Irish myth and legend in a contemporary setting. Some of the characters are unforgettable: a talking earwig who thinks he's Napoleon, and the gods Angus Og and Brigid disguised as tinkers Patsy and Boodie. The plot is full of adventure and good bit of horror for a "children's" book. I also like the beautiful and tender way the older brother looks after his little sister.
Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson
I have read this, along with the subsequent Green Mars and Blue Mars, again and again. I'm not a huge fan of techie science fiction, but these books balance the science with intriguing socio-economic ideas and enough plot to keep things going. I'd say the first book of the trilogy is the best.
Belinda by Anne Rampling (Rice)
Pure, unadulterated escapism. An erotic/romantic suspense novel about rich artists living in Italy, San Francisco and New Orleans. I read this when I don't want to use too many brain cells to enjoy myself.