One great thing about having a child Maya’s age is showing her the books that I loved as a girl, and seeing if she enjoys them as much as I did, or not. Recently I went through my bookshelf and found a few she might enjoy:
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.
This book was HUGE when I was in the 5th and 6th grades. I think I got it from the bookmobile that used to come to our neighborhood. If you’re a man, or a woman who spent too much time living under rocks, so you don’t know this book, it’s about a girl named Margaret, who is going through puberty, moves to a new school, and is confused about her body, boys, friendships, and God. Maya has read several other Judy Blume books at school, and she really seemed to like this one. She stayed up way past her bedtime and read it all in one (school)night.
A Little Princess
Gosh, I loved this book growing up. Sometimes I still pick it up and read it. I loved Sara’s quiet dignity, her internal strength, her charm and her inherant kindness. I wasn’t so fond of the movies, mostly because they chickened out and had the father sitting in a London hospital with amnesia, and her struggle is to find him. Perhaps that’s because they are going for a younger audience than the book. In the book, if you are still hiding out under that rock, her father has died, (from Brain Fever…Maya and I didn’t know what that was. Turns out it’s bacterial meningitis, and often fatal. Blech.) and her struggle is much more internal…it’s about keeping her dignity, kindness, and sense of self alive against overwhelming coldheartedness and adversity. She lives mainly within herself, and plays a game that gets her through the tough times…she imagines what a true princess would do if put in harsh situations, and tries to behave accordingly.Â That she has the strength and compassion to forgive and befriend her father’s partner, who unwittingly was instrumental in his death, is a true act of charity and grace. (And it’s probably a bit above the understanding of the 6 year olds for whom the movies were made. But it rubbed me the wrong way.) I loved this book, and it’s great to see Maya enjoying it so much as well.
Danny the Champion of the World
This is possibly the first Roald Dahl book I remember reading. It’s a wonderful tale about a boy who lives in a gypsy caravan with his father. He’s a car mechanic, and his father loves to tell him wonderful stories. Of course, there are evil adults as well, as in any delicious Dahl book, and Danny is able to outsmart them all, and he saves his father in the end. I really enjoyed it. Maya has read MANY Roald Dahl books, some that we have at home, some at school, and is planning on writing a report on Dahl for school this winter. I know she will enjoy reading this one. I realized the other day that she’s a smart cookie, too…She was telling me about the Dahl book, Matilda, and cracking up as she told me of the evil deeds of the Trunchbull. I told her that there is a film version of Matilda out, and that we can Netflix it if she would like. She said she would like that, but she knew already it wouldn’t be as good as the book, because, well, it’s a book. Love that kid.
The House of Sixty Fathers
I’m cheating on this one, because I haven’t actually read it yet. I bought it for Maya a few years ago, and then realized that she probably wasn’t ready for it yet, so I put it on my bookshelf instead of hers. It’s hard sometimes when you have a smart kid, because her vocabulary can be ready for a book, but emotionally she may not be ready to enjoy it. This book was awarded a Newberry Honor, which is almost always a good sign, and is the story of a boy fleeing the Japanese army by boat. He is seperated from his family, and with his pet pig, he has to find his way home to his family again. I hope it’s as good as it looks. Has anyone read this one? Maya hasn’t started it yet.
I’m submitting this post to the Carnival of Children’s Literature, which will be posted on November 23rd. I’ll remind you then, and if you’re interested, you should go see what people are saying. The theme is “What are you thankful for in children’s literature?” My answer, of course, is books that I can share with Maya, books that I loved, and that I hope she loves now.