Book Review: One Hundred Best Books For Children

One Hundred Best Books For Children:  A Parent’s Guide To Making The Right Choices For Your Young Reader:  Toddler to Pretreen, by Anita Silvey

This book is a relatively short one at a bit more than 150 pages, and it serves its  job relatively well, although the author is perhaps more interested in diversity concerns than I would wholeheartedly recommend.  Still, these are generally pretty sound consensus picks for great books for children and I have to say that most of them were books that I read or was at least somewhat familiar with as a child and it is true that these works would likely remain worthwhile for contemporary children who want to develop a love of reading literature.  The vast majority of these works are fictional although there are certainly a few nonfictional works here that strike interest as well, especially Anne Frank:  The Diary of A Young Girl, which is part of the recommendations for preteen readers.  By and large, though, these books have been given awards and have remained recommended readings and are books that can serve as a gateway to still more challenging books, as The Hobbit can be an entrance into the fiction of Tolkien, a very worthwhile habit to acquire for a reader, and A Wizard of Earthsea can also introduce the reader to the fiction of Urusla Le Guin, just as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is likely to be a book that many young people will be reading anyway, whether it is recommended or not at this point.

The book is divided into six sections.  The first section covers Board Books that are designed for infants up to the age of two, merely to familiarize them with books as something to look at and maybe eventually read and not eat, including some classics like the Very Hungry Caterpillar and Goodnight Moon.  After that there are some picture books for early readers into elementary school, including Madeline and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and the obscure but interesting historical work Snowflake Bentley as well as Where The Wild Things Are, Curious George, The Tale of Peter The Rabbit, and the Polar Express.  Books for beginning readers include the Cat in the Hat, after which young readers are recommended books like Ramona The Pest, Sara, Plain and Tall, and Babe:  The Gallant Pig.  Middle readers are then encouraged to read books like The Secret Garden, Because of Winn-Dixie, Harriet the Spy, The Wind In The Willows, The Phantom Toll-Booth, A Wrinkle In Time, The New Way Things Work, Winnie-The-Pooh, and Pippie Longstocking, as well as Bridge to Terebithia, Anne of Green Gables, Hatchet, Island of Blue Dolphins, Mary Poppins, Holes, and Charlotte’s Web.  Finally, older readers are recommended to read books like The Giver, Johnny Tremain, and Tuck Everlasting, after which the book includes others beyond the 100 best, a bibliography, reading journal, and index.

Given that there are so many genuinely great books for children that have been written, it is worthwhile to reflect upon and enjoy the classics of such literature, much of which retains value even for adult.  It is perhaps not surprising that so many of the best-known books for children have been turned into movies.  The books are definitely worthwhile even if they have been adapted into movies and miniseries as well.  It is fascinating to ponder what it is that makes for a classic board book or picture book, because these books are not considered to be the sort of books that people often judge for quality, although there are still some classics in this field and the author does a good job at explaining the book and how it was made and how it was received at the time.  If there are more concerns about identity politics than one would think wise, the books chosen for the most part are still excellent.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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