Judy Blume holds a place of honor in my childhood. She was far and away my favorite author, and if I didn’t read all of her books growing up, it wasn’t from lack of effort.
Although she was firmly number one, I loved many books by many writers. Philip Hall Likes Me. I Reckon Maybe. Danny, the Champion of the World and Cheaper by the Dozen, were among the novels I read countless times. Some of my favorites still grace my bookshelves even now – either the original copies I read growing up, or new copies I bought as an elementary school teacher.
My most cherished memories of teaching 4th grade include reading great books aloud to my students, engaging them in novel studies, or helping them make their way through their first truly satisfying reads. I just love young adult and juvenile literature.
After I stopped teaching, I became a full-time graduate student. My days and nights were filled with nonfiction. The required readings never grabbed me like a good novel, and I often lamented the lack of time to read one. I had to squeeze in novels during semester breaks as treats (I’m looking at YOU Harry Potter books).
Although adult fiction is sometimes hilarious, delicious or otherwise moving (32 Candles, I Wish I Had a Red Dress, The Bluest Eye, Their Eyes Were Watching God), I don’t think there’s anything quite like good children’s literature.
Earlier today I finished Make Lemonade, a poignant, free verse novel by Virginia Euwer Wolff. My work often demands I read volumes of informational text, but I’ve been determined to explore more young adult novels and children’s books.
I’d like to read all the award-winning books from 2014 for starters, and (eventually) make my way through the Caldecott, Newbery, Coretta Scott King and Lee & Low New Voices lists.
But some great books don’t win awards, and here’s where you come in… What’s on your list of must-reads? Novels and picture books welcomed!