books for children, advice for adults

"If the light goes out...
wear it around your neck and go dancing"...

"If it's the last dance,
Dance backwards."...

-from If You're Afraid of the Dark Remember the Night Rainbow by: Cooper Edens

Cooper Edens is one of my all-time favorite Children's Book authors. If you don't know of these wise, whimsical books, I highly recommend looking into them. They're magical. Loved them as a child. Love them even more as a parent.

What Children's Books made lasting impressions on you as a child, have stayed with you into adulthood? What are your favorite books to read to your kids? How have books changed* for you as the reader?

Would love to hear your grand stories about grand stories.


*I recently picked up Outside Over There (my favorite book as a child) to read to Archer, realizing, as I started reading aloud, how scary it was. And yet? As a little girl, it was my absolute favorite book - more than anything else in my library. I had forgotten what the story was about (a girl's little sister gets kidnapped by goblins and she must travel into their spooky land, confuse the goblins by making them dance, rescue her baby sister and bring her home safe and sound. It's basically Where the Wild Things Are for girls with savior-complexes.) and how disturbing...

"This book's too scary," Archer said to me.

"I agree," I said. And put it away.


Rebs | 9:00 PM

Hrm...Outside Over There sounds like the basis of Labyrinth.

Which makes me want to rent the movie and see if it would hold the attention of my 4-yr old w/o scaring the crap out of her.

Nadia | 9:05 PM

Ah but most "traditional" fairy tales are terribly frightening. I just noticed this myself recently after reading my 3-year-old daughter the store of Hansel and Gretal. Who leaves there children in the forest to get rid of them? And what child pushes an old lady into a burning fire?

Many Disney movies are frightening as well. It is odd as when I was a child these stories were thrilling! Overprotective mother? I don't know.

And now I'm getting completely side tracked! Authors gave lasting impressions on me as a child. Molly Brett, Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl (BFG, Matilda), The Boxcar Children, Beatrix Potter. My goodness there are so many more.

Reading as a child was an exciting adventure, an experience. I felt like I lived those stories over and over again. Some of them bring back memories of my grandmother and I can hear her voice reading them too me in the back of my mind while I read to my children.

And now I have written a book! Sorry for the long comment :). Books are a passion of mine.

Unknown | 9:12 PM

Mmm.... I'm bananas for kids' books (when I was tiny my mom finished her masters' thesis in children's literature) but I dunno Cooper Edens. I'm all over it. Thanks!

Anonymous | 9:17 PM

My oldest is only 20 months so our books are limited to short and sweet cardboard pages. Our favourite so far are "Baby Animals" and "Five Senses" from iKid

I'm also a sucker for the "Not A Box" and "Not A Stick" books by Antoinette Portis


I loved good old fairy tales when I was a child. Even the awful, really scary ones. My mother didn't get it.

Heckedy Peg followed me from childhood into my son's reading rotation. I thought it might be too scary for him, but he loves it.

My favorite thing to read at the moment, though, is George and Martha. We have one big book that contains all of the George and Martha stories, and I could sit and read that book from start to finish.

toni9jean | 9:43 PM

The Little Prince is an all time favorite. My mother read it to me in sections, and I loved it. I read it again about a month ago, and it is still amazing.

carrie murphy | 9:46 PM

martha b. rabbit

gwinna (so beautiful, about a girl with wings)

he high rise glorious skittle skat roarious angel food cake--about a girl who gets angels to help her bake a magical birthday cake for her mom

Anonymous | 10:25 PM

What do you think about that Love You Forever book? People love it but I think it's creepy and asinine. I honestly can't remember any picture books I particularly liked. Dr. Seuss books were fun to read.

Sonja Streuber, PMP(R), SSBB | 11:15 PM

Little Miss Kickboxer's favorite books are: "How Do I Love You?" by Marion Dane Bauer (adorable!) and "Good Night, America!" by Adam Gamble (excellent preparation for her future presidency--Sarah Palin coulda used some of that ...).

Marie | 11:36 PM

Roald Dahl, all the way. My love for his books started in third grade and traveled with me through college, where I wrote my senior thesis on his writing.

Some of my absolute fondest memories are of my parents reading to me before I went to bed, and I more or less relive them every time I walk by my book case. I think it's such a great thing to reach a stage with your kids where you can share something you truly love with them (my cat isn't really as into John Irving novels or Woody Allen movies as I am, so I kind of envy you right now).

Anonymous | 12:44 AM

Oooh, yes, Roald Dahl! Those are the books that my parents read to me before I could read well for myself. Loved George's Marvelous Medicine, BFG, James and the Giant Peach...

Shel Silverstein

I also remember loving "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" because I could always relate to it.

Another favorite was the book "People" by Peter Spier, although it's somewhat outdated these days.

Of course the classics: Peter Rabbit, Corduroy, Dr. Seuss...

holly | 12:55 AM

Dr. Seuss for sure. I remember going on a field trip to his office in La Jolla years ago. My 4.5 year old loves his books and can somewhat 'read' remember each page.

The Original Mother Goose. All those traditional nursery rhymes are classic.

My mom is a member of the Betrix Potter society so of course all those books. She just gave my two year old the Snippy and Snappy book she used to read as a girl. very cool.

Mammy P | 2:11 AM

Without a shadow of a doubt, my favourite stories as a kid were written by Canadian author Robert Munsch... and my 5 year old loves them now.

The best one is called 'The Paper Bag Princess' and is about a princess whose 'handsome prince' gets kidnapped by a dragon, and her princess clothes get burned up by the dragon's firey breath so she has to wear a paper bag.

So then she outsmarts the dragon and rescues the prince. And in the end decides she doesn't need a handsome prince and calls him a 'bum'. That's my kind o' gal. ;-)

Here's a link:

All his books are great; really imaginative stories that are interactive and have my kid howling with laughter.

Meredith | 5:58 AM

I love the Old Turtle books. And the Olivia stories.

milena | 6:05 AM

Over here in Germany all children know and love Astrid Lindgren (swedish autor). Just so many funny and hearty characters , eg. Lotta, Emil, Pippi and Ronia. Just classics.
But I have to say the books looks much nicer (illustrated) here in germany.

Also, I love, love, love "the gruffalo" (Julia Donaldson)

Kendra | 6:30 AM

I had forgotten all about "The Little Prince." That was one of the first books that I ever discovered myself--not suggested reading from a parent or something--that really got to me. My oldest son has just started reading chapter books, and now I want to go get that one out right now.

I'm struck by the fairy tales too. I have a big collection of them from when I was little, and we recently read "Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves." I was scared for my kids (6 and 4) when the maid poured the boiling oil onto the thieves, but they took it fine. And I was a little relieved to read something that wasn't happy all the time, but a little more true to the scare decisions people sometimes face (though hopefully no boiling oil).

Some we've recently enjoyed together are Pippi Longstocking (as hilarious now as when I was 6) and Uncle Wiggily (so silly and dated--I had to explain rheumatism crutches and barber poles on the first page alone--yet so wonderfully silly). And we haven't read them together yet, but I have wonderful memories of the Br'er Rabbit books, which featured, among others, the rabbit in the briar patch. I've heard them called racist and honestly haven't read them since I was little, but even if they are, there's enough great stuff in those stories to spark some terrific talks.

Erin | 6:58 AM

My favorite children's author is by far Kevin Henkes (Lily's Purple Plastic Purse, Chrysanthemum, Owen, Lily's Big Day, Wemberly Worries, just to name a few). They are funny and meaningful too!

I still love many classic authors, William Steig, Tomie DePaola, Margaret Wise Brown. Books these days are more sophisticated and jump into the action a lot faster. I think its good for kids to have a mix of both though!

Andygirl | 7:39 AM

Authors I loved: Roald Dahl and Judy Blume for sure. but I also loved the classics! I read the Nutcracker, Little Princess, Little House on the Prarie, Anne of Green Gables, and the Secret Garden over and over. And let's not forget the Giving Tree.

Allison the Meep | 7:49 AM

I'm having a hard time coming up with faves right now, but would like to make the comment that have you ever noticed how totally effed up the mom/son relationship is in "I Love You Forever"? The lady sneaks into his house late at night with a ladder so she can rock him in his bed when he's an adult.

StepfordExile | 7:50 AM

Delurking to say that I too LOVED "Outside Over There" as a child. I had to comment because I so rarely see people mention it; it's not one of Sendak's most well-known books. My daughter, who is almost three, loved it as well when she was around 2-2 1/2; we must have read it every night for months. However, she is probably too young to really "get" the darker, scary aspects of it, whereas Archer's imagination probably ran wild! Agree with previous comments that stated that sometimes the darker tales are the ones that really capture our imaginations.


I Love You Forever creeps me out, too, even though I totally get why its beloved (we have TWO copies, here, both gifts, both I will never read my kids. Archer would hate it. He doesn't like books where parents are smother-y)

I don't like books whose main purpose is to make people cry and I think, more than anything, that book speaks to a mother's insecurities and makes her needlessly sad. Not our cup of tea.

Anonymous | 8:19 AM

I'm a bit obsessed with children's books. I love the books "Polka Bats and Octopus Slacks" and "A Balloon for Blunderbuss". Anything kind of outside the box. I have one called "the Little House" that is out of print but I managed to get an old's such a sweet story. My tot really loves the Frog and Toad books right now and I remember them from when I was little. My favorite book when I was a bit older than him was "The Seceret Garden". It was the first time I had a book of my OWN instead of the library. It was a gift from a relative and aside from loving the little story it had a navy blue leather cover with a ribbon book mark and gold marked pages...I thought it was so fancy.

Unknown | 8:20 AM

Im trying to raise a bilingual little girl (Spanish and English of course) but I find that translations, especially of rhyming kids books arent always great. Anyone know any children's book authors who are spanish speakers themselves?

Laura | 8:24 AM

My all-time favorite children's book is The Witches by Roald Dahl. I've read it well over 30 times, but I wouldn't read it to my children. At the same time, I wouldn't stop them if they wanted to read it themselves in the future.

I love reading Dr Suess to my kids. Anything that is rhyme-y or can be read in a sing-song voice is our favorite.

Our two most read books are probably Quick as a Cricket by Audrey Wood and Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.

Amanda | 8:59 AM

Roald Dahl, Dr. Suess, Maurice Sendak, Eric Carle, etc. I have officially memorized "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" after reading it to Jack so damn often.

Amy | 9:20 AM

Absolutely anything by Shel Silverstein. I especially loved "Where the Sidewalk Ends" because I owned it, while my sister was stick with "A Light In the Attic."

Sassy Molassy | 9:47 AM

Kristina Katerina and the Box was my favorite for a long time. I can remember reading it again and again and loving ho the girl in the book could make fun out of anything, even as the situation seemingly went downhill.

Another favorite was The Little House. I loved that someone loved the little house enough to move it and give it a new life. I had a strong tendency to anthropomorphize everything, so this book really resonated with my sensitive little self.

MommyLisa | 9:59 AM

My daughter loves the Eric Carle books - we took her to SEE Where the Wild Things ARe and she adored it...while most three year olds would be scared..she bounced around like we were at an Elmo concert.

Elissa L. | 10:03 AM

My 4 year old daughter and I are working our way through the "Ramona" books by Beverly Clearly. She loves them.

Ashley, The Accidental Olympian | 10:34 AM

Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. I bought it for my parents as a Christmas gift last year and we all started crying remembering how my mother used to read it to me every night.

Sarah J. | 10:54 AM

Please don't judge all of Robert Munsch by Love You Forever - I agree it is a little much, but some of his more whimsical stories were my favourites growing up: Angela's Airplane, Mortimer, The Paper Bag Princess, etc.

Anonymous | 11:02 AM


The one getting most play in our house right now is The Paper Bag Princess (Munsch). A fantastic story about a courageous princess who saves the prince from the fire breathing dragon, only to find out the Prince is anything but charming. The ending is happy, but not at all expected. My two boys LOVE that book, and I'm sure when my infant daughters get a bit older, they will too.


PS Off to in MA. No Republican has won a senate seat here since 1972, which is the year I was born. I'm full of anxiety.

Anonymous | 11:21 AM

My favorite book as a child was "The Little Mermaid" the original not Disney. I remember watching the Disney version and crying because she didn't turn into air at the end. I was so angry at Disney for ruining it.

Now as an adult I love to read books that are more satire for adults. "The Happy Hocky Family" is a favorite of mine and my son. He also likes to read "The Stinky Cheese Man". We also enjoy some older books like "The Sun Egg" and the retold fables by Jan Brett. Anything with good illustrations, well written story, or satire and I will buy it. We have too many books. I should spend more time at the library but I love books.

Sarah | 12:09 PM

I was an Ann Martin girl. I read every Baby Sitters Club and Baby Sitters Little Sister. I also loved the Nancy Drew Files, and the Nancy Drew college years, did you know Nancy went to college??? :) The Face on the Milk Carton series was also great too. I love books so much, I still tell my husband the stories from my favorites!

SoMo | 12:31 PM

My favorite book to read to the kids right now is Les Trois Cochon. That maybe only good if you are from Louisiana. I, also, like Never Tease a Weasel. I look for books that have a nice flow, not really rhyming.

Kendra | 12:34 PM

Never Tease a Weasel is a great book! Long out of print, but I went to a lot of trouble and found a copy for my sister a few years ago. Many fond memories of reading that one.

Anonymous | 12:37 PM

I loved the Frances books, Amelia Bedilia, and The Giant Jam Sandwich. Fortunaetly my little girl shares my outstanding taste.

Unknown | 1:35 PM

Oh this is a GREAT list! I feel like dropping everything and going to the book store to grab a bunch of these suggestions.

Some of my favourites that I have foisted on my kids and they love:
- Silly Sally
- Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain (awesome vintage adventure with some small fear factor that isn't overwhelming and gives kids a real sense of being daring)
- any Shel Silverstein (although why that man had to put those scary pictures of himself on the back of some of the books is beyond me... I kinda think it's cool, but my kids are totally creeped out by him)
- In the Night Kitchen (I have no idea why we all love this book so much... It's so trippy)
- Winnie the Pooh stories

Anonymous | 1:53 PM

My #1 favorite children's book is probaby "The Maggie B."- my mom gave it to my siblings and me when we were little with the inscription "To my three children- to add a sparkle of fantasy to your lives." I love even smelling the binding of that book- brings back memories. I also love "The Ox-Cart Man"- great for lovers of the simple life. And a huge fan of the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary- I would consider naming my daughter Ramona because I love that character so much.

Anonymous | 1:57 PM

"Jamberry" is one of my favorites. "The Talking Eggs" is also a great story- retold by Jerry Pinckney. It has wonderful illustrations to boot.

Coffee In Action | 2:46 PM

The children's book that has 100% had an absolute impact on my life is Ms. Rumphius by Barbara Cooney (also known to many as "The lupine lady"). The general gist of the book is that whatever else you do in the world, you should do something to make the world more beautiful. In the book the "whatever else" is to travel the world and make beautiful friendships - acts which are in and of themselves beautiful. My father would ask my then-3-year-old-self what I at that little age could do to make the world more beautiful. We always made different lists, and this book was on a weekly rotation - I LOVED it. The illustrations are beautiful too. I now have a tattoo of the lupines from the book along the side of my torso as a tribute to both my parents and their energy and love raising my siblings and I (three kids, 3 flowers) but also as a statement of my continued commitment to making the world more beautiful through grand and everyday actions. Give it a look, its just an all around beautiful, beautiful book.

Chef's Widow | 5:45 PM

My absolute favorite kids book is In The Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak. "milk in the batter milk in the batter we bake cake like nothing's the matter!"

So so good especially when my son can recite it all becuase we've read it so many times.

I also like Blueberries for Sal & not just b/c my son looks like Sal (who is totally a chick)!

Anonymous | 6:33 PM

Love this list. I'm with previous posters on the Maurice Sendak, Beverly Cleary, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Robert McCloskey love. Another favorite as a kid and now as a mom is Donald Hall's Oxcart Man: simplicity, beauty, dedication, love. All the good stuff in a short picture book. The magic of the everyday.

Anonymous | 7:34 PM

I recently had the same experience. Outside Over There was my favorite book as a child and I still have the copy that was given to me on my 2nd birthday. My daughter won't sit through it and says its scary too. What does that say about those of us who grew up in the late 70s/early 80s?


Old Turtle is amazing. AMAZING. Archer just started reading (er, we started reading it to him) and after his first read, turned to Hal and said, "that book was so so beautiful.")

And Anon 7:34? I think it says something about our want to save something... ourselves, most likely. From goblins? Perhaps?

Love Blueberries for Sal and also love Night Kitchen! And Ms Rumphius! Forgot about that book! A classic!

Lots of these I haven't heard of. Will have to check them out! Thanks, all!

Anonymous | 8:37 PM

So this is completely unrelated to this post, however, I somehow missed the Happy Holidays momversation, and I just caught it, and I just wanted to say that when Fable said bye-bye, it just SLAYED ME!

Courtney | 9:56 PM

Seeing the reference to "If You're Afraid of the Dark Remember the Night Rainbow" brought tears to my eyes. My grandmother used to read that book to me when I was little, and then when I was a little older but having nightmares, she bought me a beautifully illustrated paperback version to tuck under my pillow. I'm so thrilled that my Oct 08 baby boy is now getting in to "reading" too. He pulls up his little chair, grabs a blanket to wrap himself in, and then grabs a book to "read" himself, or crawls into my lap with a book. Yeah for reading to our little ones and carrying on the love of the book in an age of electronic everything!

Mars | 10:20 PM

It is so funny that you bring up outside over there - it literally is the book that I consider to be the scariest children's book ever. It's not just the story, but also, all the children have scary deformed faces - imagine hanging out with weird deformed gnomes in the forest and then taking acid!

as a kid I loved Narnia, Frances, The Bedspread (book about 2 women who document their childood by embroidering a bedspread - sounds awful but is great), Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, Tootle, The Little Engine that Could, a book of children's poetry called "Imaginary Gardens," a book by peter spier with no words called "Rain" which is just illustrations of people and scenes in the rain (my favorite book for a long time!), babar, A.A Milne poems (Now we are six and when we were very young), all the shoes books (ballet shoes, circus shoes, etc) ALL THE EDWARD EAGER BOOKS (half magic, knights castle, magic by the lake), ALL THE E NESBIT BOOKS (the phoenix and the carpet, enchanted castle, wet magic), the little house books, ramona, little women, anne of green gables, the secret garden, an amazing new kids book called Zoology, ALL OF THE OZ BOOKS (rinkitink in oz, ozma of oz, kabumpo) cynthia and the runaway gazebo, mandy, hiawatha's childhood, the poky little puppy, and the polar express. I could go on forever but if it was a golden book from the 50's, a book where magic happened, or something about english children in the countryside, then i was down...

Can't wait until I have children of my own to read these books to...

Ray | 11:34 PM

My absolute fave childhood books that I still love today are two books called: “Ivy Cottage” by E.J. Taylor and, “Goose Eggs” also by E.J. Taylor. To this day (THANKS to my MOM) I still have them and I’ll cherish them forever since the books are no longer in print. But if you can find them on EBay; I’d recommend you buy it for Fable to read to her when she gets older. I just love them so! I also have this big yellow hardcover book full of, “Curious George” stories that I’ll also never part with. Other childhood books I loved reading were, “Amelia Bedelia” books and others such as: “A Chair for My Mother” by Vera B. William and “Tar Beach” by Faith Ringgold. When I got older I loved collecting, “The Babysitter’s Club” series and I still have a fondness for them. <3

A childhood Christmas story that I absolutely loved is, “The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story” by Gloria Houston and Barbara Cooney. I think it’s a sweet story with great illustration.

Recent great books I’ve discovered are: “Love You Forever” by Robert N. Munsch and Sheila McGraw (a mother-son book) and “Someday” by Alison McGhee (a mother-daughter book that I read in a Toys R Us with my sister, that made me want to cry).

Happy Reading! ;o)

Dory | 4:52 AM

The little match girl. Loved that book. I was fascinated by the illustrations of our particular copy. Sylvester and the magic pebble and the mitten are right up there as well

Dory | 4:59 AM

oh, and it's this particular copy of the the mitten

Elizabeth | 3:22 PM

I'm totally a kids book lover (and now that I have "nieces of the heart" its not creepy for the 24 year old to be in the kids section score!)

My favorites are Jake Bakes a Cake, Ann M. Martin books (BBC and the 10 kids no pets series), the Amelia Badelia books (which was my best friend's name). As I got older I loved Meg Cabot's books (Princess Diaries and now her adult stuff too). I read Harry Potter in middle school and as they came out after that. My brothers both memorized "Playing Hockey," which was weird for kids in Maryland but whatever. Right now said "nieces" love the FANCY NANCY books... which are girly and ridiculous but its kinda awesome to hear a three year old tell you that your outfit is sublime and that your apartment is 'so posh', or to have the five year old tell you your gift is stupendous or that your accessories are too cool is pretty neat (and yes they use the words correctly without prompting).

(the books also have awesome pictures which is fun)

tracey | 5:06 PM

Avocado Baby by John Burnigham is fantastic!!

Mandy S. | 7:54 PM

For contemporary picture books Mo Willems writes hilarious stuff! Stuff that I remember loving as a kid: Richard Scarry books. Loved them. It's interesting to go back and think of your history with reading and how you become a reader- or not a big reader for that matter.

Mom101 | 9:00 PM

Oh my gosh look at those beautiful kids of yours. All growed up and everything.

I'm starting to read chapter books to my kids and Charlotte's Web is so far a fave. It's a little dark though and the language isn't dumbed down, which is why I think it's great. One of their favorites is also Caps for Sale which I remember loving as a kid. Even Sage "reads" it to herself, always acting out the part with the red caps, right on the top.

abi | 11:32 PM

for older kids check out the "keys to the kingdom" series. It's available in audio book as well and the reader is great!
For little guys- which I currently have- we love "Peek-a-who", it's one of the only books in our house that does not mysteriously vanish after multiple readings in a day.
One of my favorite childhood books was "the giving tree". It was a fun story when I was small, it meant more when I was a teen and when I read it now, as a new(ish) mom, it's so powerful. I can't wait to share it with my son.

Brooke Trout | 7:59 AM

I love love love that you asked this question, because I'm always looking for more children's books and when I have a little more time, I'm going to read through everyone's responses and go out and get a couple.
The books that have stuck with me since I was a kid is "Tikki Tikki Tembo" not to be confused with Rikki Tikki Tavi. Although now that I'm older, I wonder if the book is...proper?
Another one is "Sylvester & the Magic Pebble"
My Boh's favorite book right now is "How do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight"
I love Boynton books too! "Night Night Little Pookie"
Man, I could go on and on!

Sarah | 8:51 AM

Ok, so here is my story - when I was 16 I watched the labrynth for the first time in probably 10 years and as I was watching it I started saying "Holy crap, I know this story. I had a book and it was really disturbing and had scary pictures of ice babies in it." My little sister knew what I was talking about but my older brother and parents thought we were crazy. For years we would press them about how they could possibly let us have such a deranged, scary book. And so we spent years trying to figure it out, we went to every book store, rummaged childrens sections, searched the internet only to find it two christmases ago. And yes, it was every bit as disturbing as I remembered.

Anonymous | 1:35 PM

Two beautiful children's books that I loved as a child, and love as an adult. My little ones ask for these two again and again: Andrew Henry's Meadow, written and illustrated by Doris Burn - made me cry the first time I picked it up as a adult, I'm not sure why. It's all about appreciating a child's strengths and idiosyncrasies. The other book, Christina Katerina and the Box, written by Patricia Lee Gauch and illustrated by the same Doris Burn as the above book, is just cute, creative, and sweet.

Kat | 4:22 PM

Oh, I love, Love, LOVE children's books! My fav growing up and still today is Shel Silverstein. For real little ones, I love Sandra boynton board books...and Beatrix Potter. My nephews love skippyjon jones, and I have to admit they're pretty fun to read. Fancy Nancy is a cute series, a.a. milne, Audrey and don wood...if you've never read the hiccupotamus by Aaron zenz, it's a must! Hilarious! Oh, and Eric Carle is awesome! The Harold and the purple craton books, and raffi...and I think that's!

Laura R. | 6:05 PM

Eloise books. and "Noisy Nora."

Anonymous | 6:24 AM

Hmm... Gotta be Ferdinand the Bull. Great illustrations, even better story.