Second grade, revisited

In an interesting twist I had not expected, this project has transported me not just back to my childhood books but my childhood bad habits. In my second grade class we had the bubble gum book club; it consisted of a big poster of a gumball machine where we put colored circle stickers for each book we read. The problem was you had to fill out a little form before you got to put your gumball sticker. The form consisted of a book’s name, author, when you finished it, and a one to two sentence summary. Not bad, right? Wrong. I loved reading books, but hated filling out those little forms. I would hide books I had read from my mom so I wouldn’t have to fill out those forms. (Sorry, mom!) Probably not the intended impact of the class’s reading club.

Well, fast forward to twenty years later, and I’m reading my kids books and loving it, but now have a stack of books that I have to write blogs for! Silly, right? I’m choosing to do this. And I WANT to remember the books, which is why I decided to document the project. I might have to bring Mrs. Parrack or my mom back to force me to fill out my little blog posting. (It’s kind of like a form, even!)

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The kid lit project begins

I keep a small, running list of my favorite books of all time. Generally, I like to distinguish between “good” books and “favorite” books. There are a great many books that I consider very good, even great. For me, though, my favorite books are ones that I can read over and over, thoroughly enjoying on each new read. It just so happens that quite a few of the books on my all-time favorites list are technically children’s books. I used to chalk this up to those books being comfort reads– they are my favorites because they always have been, and so reading them not just brings the love of the book, but that feeling of comfort.

A few years ago I changed my opinion. There are some really, really great children’s books! Really great writing, captivating plot lines, lovable and full characters. Children’s literature is not the dumbed down equivalent of poorly written chick lit or paperback mysteries. No, it’s a genre of literature that requires truly good writing (as one cannot pretend big words simply mean good writing!) and has a demanding audience: if a kid doesn’t like it, a kid is not going to keep reading!

The book that spurred this was a Newberry Award honoree, and I decided to start a project reading through all those Newberry award books (the most pretigious award for children’s writing). There are quite a few, as the award has been around since 1922. I probably won’t stay exclusive to that list, but it’s the stated purpose here. I figured I’d love a record of my little adventure, and so this blog was born.