From the award-winning picture books that are able to fill your mind with wonder and color simply from the illustrations to the ones that... well, quite frankly I wonder why they were even published in the first place, you just never know what you're going to get when you pick up a book.
So although we have discovered new books that have entertained us, amazed us, educated us, shown us the beauty of English Poetry and more, here are three of my all-time favorite books from my own childhood that I'm happy to pass on to my girls:
The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Marcus Pinkwater
This one is my favorite and if you have never read this book, you need to.
The main character, Mr. Plumbean, lives on a "neat street" where all the houses look exactly the same. But one day a seagull flies over his house and drops a can of bright orange paint on his roof. Instead of repainting his house to look like all the others on the street, Mr. Plumbean paints it to resemble his dreams.
At first his neighbors send people to talk him into repainting his house to look like theirs, but everyone he talks to ends up painting their houses like their dreams also. In the end, all the neighbors say: Our street is us and we are it. Our street is where we like to be, and it looks like all our dreams.
If that isn't a great lesson in self-expression and the importance of individuality, I don't know what is.
Perfect the Pig by Susan Jeschke
When Perfect is born, he is so small and meek that he goes unnoticed by everyone, including his own mother. After helping a large disabled sow to her feet after she has fallen, Perfect is granted a wish and receives a set of wings.
Now around the farm Perfect is indeed noticed, but is far from accepted. The other pigs tell him to go fly away and be with the birds. When he does, the birds ostracize him as well. Having gone from just wanting to be noticed, to just wanting to fit in, Perfect flies to the city where he meets Olive, an affectionate artist who takes him in.
Everything proceeds perfectly for Perfect until one day, when out for his daily fly, he falls into unkind hands and a dastardly man mistreats Perfect and forces him to perform for money. The man keeps Perfect in a cage, and all of the money for himself. All is not lost, however, when Olive finally rescues Perfect from the evil villain and the story gets its happy ending.
This seemingly simple book and its beautiful pencil drawings cover so many important themes and topics that it could be used as a springboard for a discussion on treating others fairly, being careful what you wish for, friendship, acceptance, ethics and much more.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
First published in 1978, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs took on an entirely new following when it was released as an animated film in 2009.
This book details a bedtime story narrated by a grandfather to his grandchildren, chronicling the daily lives of the citizens of an unordinary town called Chewandswallow. Unlike other traditional towns, this unique location is characterized by its strange daily meteorological pattern that provides the townsfolk with all of their required daily meals by raining food.
Although the residents of the town enjoy a lifestyle devoid of any grocery shopping or cookery, the weather unexpectedly and inexplicably takes a turn for the worst, devastating the local community with destructive and uncontrollable storms of either unpleasant or dangerously oversize foods, resulting in unstoppable catastrophes for the townspeople.
Their lives endangered by the threats of the storms, they relocate to a different community of average meteorological patterns, safe from the hazards that once were presented by raining meals. However, they are forced to learn how to obtain food the normal way.
Everything from the extremely detailed illustrations to the concept of food falling from the sky has amazed and entertained children for decades... and I have no doubt that it will continue to for many more to come.
What are your favorite childhood books?