When you follow this link, you will find that blogger Jen Robinson was inspired to make a list of children’s books that taught her life lessons after reading a number of other discussions on the same topic. These discussions were inspired by The Guardian writer Lucy Mangan’s article about why she still reads children’s books.
I've got a list, too. I'm starting out with picture books and Easy Readers (i.e. "I Can Read" books). My first four of many (many more):
A Bargain for Frances—-Russell Hoban, illustrated by Lillian Hoban
Frances the Badger’s fink friend Thelma swindles her out of her china tea-set money, and Frances gives Thelma her comeuppance. In the end, Frances and Thelma are friends again, but what impressed me was how contradictory the message of this story was in comparison to my upbringing. If I had been Frances, I would have allegedly learned my lesson about trusting shady friends, but I would have still been stuck with a plastic tea-set and I would have had to “forgive” Thelma. A Bargain for Frances taught me that I could be a good friend to someone without acting like a doormat.
The Runaway Bunny—Margaret Wise Brown
As much as I enjoyed the pictures, especially the cozy warren in the final spread, I felt quite hostile toward the mother rabbit in the story. Even when I was 4, I wanted to shout at the cloying rabbit mother, “Leave the bunny alone! Give him room to play!” Fortunately, my parents did just that for me, though I don’t think they ever suspected the full extent of my resentment of the rabbit mother. Personal space is important.
The Terrible Tiger—-Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Arnold Lobel
Carry a sewing kit at all times. You never know when you’ll have to cut your way out of a ravenous tiger or (if you’re feeling benevolent) stitch him up afterward. Also: there is no appeasing or reasoning with bullies.
Over in the Meadow—-Olivia A.Wadson, illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats
You’ve probably gathered by now that sometimes I was an angry child. Like other children, I hated it when people were unfair, I resented adults when they patronized me, and I didn’t understand how someone could just decide that s/he didn’t want to be friends with me. When my mother said, “You only spend a little time of your life being a child. For most of your life, you will be a grown-up,” I couldn’t imagine even making it to the age of 10.
Over in the Meadow starts off in the morning with one turtle mother entreating her child to do what turtles do: dig in the sand. It progresses throughout the day, and on the last page, the ten firefly children are shining “like stars in the soft, shady glen.”
Life lessons learned:
1) Time passes. It's a good thing.
2) Lists help me settle my thoughts.
3) I remember ideas better when I set them to lyrical poetry.
4) It is hard to rhyme “seven” with anything remotely pertinent to the storyline.
That's me. What about you?