All the World's a Classroom
This post is part of the Favorite Children’s Books series.
Now that I have a little human, a non-negligible percentage of my time is spent thinking about how to build a quality library for the little one. Being quite ignorant on what books American babies grow up with, I’ve been browsing through the children’s literature corner of bookstores and libraries. Thanks to the digital collection of the Chicago, Denver, and the High Plains Public Library, one can sort through a bunch of books in a short time before deciding which ones to own.
I’m starting this Favorite Children’s Books series to record the various children’s books that I love and share with you what I’ve found. These are, to me, the loveliest ones that I would not tire reading over and over again.
I should mention that these are my favorite children’s books, not to be confused with my kid’s favorite children’s books. Who knows what he will like. These appeal to me for their timelessness, beautiful illustrations, and humor. If you have your favorite titles, please help me discover more children’s books by listing them in the comments!
If you haven’t already, take advantage of your local library! I use the Libby app to manage multiple library accounts.
1. Rosie Revere, Engineer; Ada Twist, Scientist; Iggy Peck, Architect
Top of my list is Rosie Revere, Engineer. Because, engineer. Ada Twist, Scientist is a close second. I love this series by Andrea Beaty! Rosie, Ada, and Iggy are second graders in Mrs. Greer’s class, and these books tell the stories of their explorations and discoveries of their natural talents. The plots, rhymes, and illustrations are winning all around. And I’m looking forward to meeting more of the second graders in the class!
2. The Llama Llama Series
I LOVE the Llama Llama series! Believe it or not, the first time I heard about Anna Dewdney was when NPR did a piece on Ludacris rapping the Llama Llama Red Pajama book: Hip-Hop Artists Rap Beloved Children’s Book ‘Llama Llama Red Pajama.’ It’s a pretty funny piece. And of course, I fell in love with it when I checked it out myself. They are so fun to read! The three titles above are my favorites so far.
Here’s another NPR piece on the author: Anna Dewdney, Author of Beloved ‘Llama Llama’ Children’s Books, Dies
3. Sidewalk Flowers
This is a lovely, lovely picture book. Without using any word, it conveys the inner life of a child beautifully. It actually reminds me of being a child, when a few things capture my attention and the rest of the adult world seems to disappear into the background. This book does this with the colors and black-and-white contrast.
4. I Wish You More
With few words, this books captures the wishes and prayers a parent would have for a child, a friend for a friend, a beloved to a beloved. Concise, but full of meaning.
5. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School…
This is an adorable story of a boy with very active imaginations, explaining why he is late to school. Along the vein of ‘my dog ate my homework’. It’s hilarious!
What are your favorite children’s books? Comment with your favorite titles!
Favorite Books Lists
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Kendra Stanton Lee is my guest for this 3rd episode of the Reading Interview Series, where I chat with bookworms, avid readers and learners, to unpack their reading habits and philosophy. She’s a freelance writer based in Boston, but really, there’s not one thing that can describe her. She’s a teacher, writer, calligrapher, and entrepreneur. You’ll love this conversation with her. We talked about her reading life, some contemporary and important books, her writing life, and her experience with the publishing world. My personal favorite part is towards the end of the episode where we talk about intercultural relationships. Stick around to the end for that.
Connect with Kendra:
Books, I find, demand not just to be read, but also to be talked about. They are keen for us to agree and disagree with their contents. They invite us to engage and complement their ideas, and thus enrich the greater dialogue that they are a part of.
Each book is a community. At least, it has the potential to be one. At its fullest realization, fellow readers gather to engage each other in conversations in book clubs, forums, or casual hangouts.
Finding communities in our modern lives, however, is not always easy (see Tribe: Home in Community). But how awesome it is to find one with kindred minds and spirits.
A Craving for Community
My reading has been quite consistent over the past few years, as my Goodreads account can testify. But as the knowledge and information piles one on another, book after book much without an outlet, my craving for a book community has peaked. I need to talk about what I’ve read!
Reading is great, but to have a conversation that goes along with it is superb. Conversations let you digest the books more deeply, exchange ideas and point of views, and probe more interesting questions. Thoughts become more complex. Differences in perspective emerge, and nothing sharpens and refines your views than sitting face to face with others who can challenge your thoughts.
Driven by this craving, I finally sought out my tribe. These are the 3 things I’m doing to talk about books these days.
3 Things I’m Doing to Talk about Books
I’ve been seeing the Facebooks ads for The Next Big Idea Club that feature Adam Grant or Malcolm Gladwell for a few months. Spot on targeting there. What’s a bookworm to do but to click away.
The Next Big Idea Club is an online book club for nonfiction lovers, curated by Adam Grant, Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Cain, and Daniel Pink. I mean, their nonfiction credibility is through the roof. If there’s any book club to join, this is the one. After all, I own each of the four’s books.
How it works: The curators pick the best nonfiction works of the year for the club to read together, one book a month. It’s a subscription service, so you can either get the quarterly mailing of the hardcover books, ebooks, or just the bonus materials. The bonus materials are author interviews by the curators, video lectures, and a closed Facebook group for discussions. There are also live Q&A sessions with the authors. For every subscription, book donations to students in under-resourced communities are made.
It’s all top notch. People post really thoughtful reflections and questions on the Facebook group. And the books are brand-new releases. We’re currently reading The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle.
If you’re a nonfiction lover, definitely check it out.
This meetup in Boulder is awesome. What could be better than talking about books in a coffee shop for 1.5 hours? Everyone seems to be so pleased with finding the group and having an outlet to geek out about business books.
Our next meetup will be on Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant (who is mentioned three times already in this post). If you’re in the Boulder area, come join us!
It tickles me that I have to start a podcast to get to talk about books to long-time friends. So millennial. But these interviews are fantastic because it’s difficult to have an extended, focused conversation about books and reading when 1) they live far away, and 2) kids may interrupt in-person conversations.
There are self-motivated learners everywhere. Famous people get a lot of podcast airtime, but really, gems of insights are always nearby from people we interact everyday. I want to uncover these gems, somehow.
If you enjoy listening to conversations about books, check out my Reading Interview Series!
I actually have not decided whether to keep going indefinitely, or make this a finite project. I told myself to try 6 episodes first and then decide. If you have feedback or comments, please let me know!
How do you find ways to talk about what you read?