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When I think back to my childhood, I remember the whole list of books I loved and the imaginings that went along with them. I remember playing Little House on the Prairie, Little Women, Heidi and of course Mary from The Secret Garden. Other cherished moments that come to mind is discovering that my dad really did know how to make Green Eggs and Ham and that playing in the Snowy Day, just as the sweet little boy in Jack Keats book could bring hours of enchantment.
The other day my kids, who are now quite big, and I while sitting at the dinner table, decided to write down all of the “classic” books we could think of that impacted our childhood. Is what was interesting is that we had some of the same books on our list and some were different because so many more books have been written since I was a little girl.
We had the greatest discussion about old classics and new classics and those books we just can’t live without. I have to admit that some of their “new classics” have become favorites of mine as well such as The Penderwicks, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and The Dark Materials. Actually, the classics list is looking very large. So that made up ponder What makes a book a classic and why do we always want to read them and keep them close to us on our shelves?
10 Reasons We’ll Always Read the Classics
- Characters We Love
- Discovering Secret Worlds
- Opens Our Imaginations
- Confronts the World
- Inventive Problem Solving
- Shared Between Generations
- Builds Resiliency
- Teaches Love and loss
- Have Become Part of Our Culture
- Have Stood the Test of Time
Characters We Love
Whether good or bad, classic books always have characters that evoke strong emotion in us. From the Grinch who Stole Christmas and Lemony Snicket to Pippi Longstockings, classic book characters always invite us to love, hate, and connect. How many times have we read a classic and identified with the main character so much that we wanted to be them or at the very least their BFF?
Discovering Secret Worlds
“Reading gives us places to go when we have to stay where we are.”
Nothing says adventure like a classic book. It’s an invitation to cultures we don’t know, worlds we never knew existed, and sometimes a glimpse into a life that’s not so far away such as in the country on a farm, or in the intercity, museum or library. Yes, the classics are a way to travel when we must stay put.
Opens Our Imaginations
As we envision the characters, stories, and settings in a classic, it opens our minds to infinite possibilities. Imagination is the greatest skill in our tool belt; it is the key to inventive problem solving and creativity. Imagination allows us to escape the doldrums of everyday life.
Confronts the World
More often than not, the classics are filled with problems. When we confront these problems in the safety of our own home, school, library or wherever happy reading takes place, it creates a sense of confidence and safety in problem-solving and expanding our view of the world, or worlds- depending what you’re reading.
Inventive Problem Solving
Children in kids classics have to be inventive. They are faced with the most unique and confounding problems ever. By reading the kids classics, different sets of problem-solving skills are learned and that any problem has a solution. You may not like the solution, but every problem has one.
Shared Between Generations
I love this one! My favorite kids’ classics were shared with me by my mom and grandmother. Because they were such a strong part of my childhood, I, in turn, shared them with my children. I couldn’t imagine their lives moving forward without knowing Tom Sawyer, The Jungle Book or Treasure Island. Of course Little Bear ranks high up there plus many more. When I asked my kids what books they are going to share with their children, my grandchildren (squeeeee- that thought makes me happy), we have many of the same books but then some great books that were written during their childhoods. Great kids classics just have to be shared!
Have you noticed in great kids books, classics, that our main character meets challenge and adversity after adversity? That my friend builds resilience. It teaches that, no matter what happens, you have to keep your eye on the goal, work together as a team or sometimes just find your inner courage to muster through. By the end of that story everyone, including the reader, has built up a resiliency to whatever life or story throws at them.
Teaches Love and Loss
The classics teach that even with the greatest of loss such as the death of a parent, sibling, pet, grandparent, that it’s the memory and love of that person that will give us the courage to move forward. Classic books also teach that we can greatly love a thing and perhaps may have lost it, or have to give it up but that we become the stronger for having survived it.
Have Become Part of Our Culture
If I say TTFN (Ta-Ta For Now) you’ll know that I’m a fan of Winnie the Pooh. Equally, if I say it’s time for Elevenses, you’ll know I’m a hobbit or what about “swish and flick” or “mischief, managed!” you’ll know that I’m honing my wand skills taught of course at Hogwarts. Of course, if I say, “This…. is a pen !!” you know that I’m trying to summon my inner Greek god. Oh, how we love Percy Jackson! Great kid lit becomes part of our daily lives, how we talk and how we think or perceive things. Those around us know exactly who and what we’re referring to. It’s another way of bringing those imaginative stories to life in our everyday world.
Have Stood the Test of Time
Some of the greatest and most loved classics of all times were written in the 19th century and have been handed down for generations. That’s one sort of “stood the test of time.” Then there is the other test of time, as in how many times they’ve been read AND the time it takes to read them. I don’t know how many time I read Little Bear. Maybe a thousand. I read Green Egg and Ham so much that I finally memorized it. Now even today, all this time later I can still recite it. I will never forget my soon to 12-year-old getting the third Harry Potter book. She sat in the driveway all day long for it to be delivered and then she ran to her room where it took her 4 days to read 600 pages. She only came out for food, water, and a bathroom break. I had never in my whole life seen a child read that many pages in that amount of TIME. So whatever time you choose, kids classics always stand the test of time.
I’ve shared some of our favorite classics, now it’s your turn. I just have to know……
What are your Favorites ?
What books from your childhood can you not live without? Which books are you sharing with your kids ? AND what wonderful new book that are sure to become classics have your discovered ?
Just leave your comments below. I can hardly wait to see them!
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