9 Books Our Parents Read to Us

childhood-favoritesAs much as I love a beautiful new picture book, there is something special about reading the same books with my children that I read with my parents as a child. Sometimes just the cover of a picture book will take me right back to my childhood bedroom. (Also present in that bedroom: a pair of foil cheerleader pom poms, glow-in-the-dark paint, and my permed hair. Thanks for that, 1980s.) Here are 7 books from my childhood (and 2 from my husband’s) that have recently filled our home with nostalgia:

The House That Had Enough by P.E. King and John O’Brien tells the story of a girl who never cleans up. One day, her belongings and home are completely fed up with the mess and run away. To this day, I think of this book whenever I see a house with two square windows that could look like eyes.

The Yellow Book of Wordplay Stories by Susan Batko is a book of stories my dad read to me as a child. I’d completely forgotten the contents until my mom sent the book to my kids a couple years back. One look at the illustrations, however, and I could quote the plot of each one of the five stories. My favorite is “The Ghost Who Loved Toast,” but “The Muddiest Pig Contest” is the hands-down favorite among my own children.

The Caboose Who Got Loose by Bill Peet. My love for Bill Peet is well documented (here and here for starters). Many of his books played a big role in my childhood, but this is the first one I ever remember reading with my mom.

Put Me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire is hardly an obscure book, but I still feel like it doesn’t get the love it deserves. I still remember my delight 6 years ago now when Dana at Made Everyday shared a costume inspired by the book that she made for her daughter. It’s a definite favorite at our house, though I haven’t managed to talk any of my children into a themed costume (yet).

The Grumpus Under the Rug by Ellen Jackson and Scott Gustafson is a book my mother-in-law has been talking about since we first had kids. Every time she would come over and read to her grandbabies, she would ask Josh if he remembered the book about the Grumpus. I found this book at our library here in NC last year, and she loved reading it to the grandkids on her next visit. The story is a little weird to me, but then I’m not the one who grew up with it. Josh and the kids love it.

Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys, and Their Monkey Business by Esphyr Slobodkina is another classic book I’m imagining you’ve heard of. If by some chance you haven’t read this one yet, do! I thought the pesky monkeys were hilarious when I was a kid, and my own children seem to agree.

Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman is the second book my mother-in-law talks about whenever she remembers reading books to her boys. I haven’t yet found the version she used to read (there are many), but I haven’t given up the search yet.

Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag. If my mom read me The House That Had Enough to try and convince me to clean my room (which is likely), she probably picked out Millions of Cats because I swore I’d have 15 house cats when I grew up. Whatever the reason that she read me this book, I still love it today (even though I no longer want a single house cat, let alone 15). The story of millions of vain cats and one scrawny runt never gets old.

The Five Chinese Brothers by Claire Hutchet Bishop and Kurt Wiese. I’d completely forgotten about the book until I was browsing the folktale section at the library with my four-year-old and started vaguely remembering a book I’d loved as a kid. I asked the poor librarian if she knew the title of a book about some brothers (all I could remember is that one brother could swallow the sea), and she found just the one I was looking for! Librarians are geniuses. I shared a picture of this one on Instagram a couple months back after finally buying my own copy. Judging by the comments, I’m not the only one who loved this as a kid.

What about you and yours? Are you rediscovering any childhood favorites? What other books should I be reading that are at risk of being forgotten?


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