So what makes a great book? Is it one that is current to the times or is it one that stands the test of time?
This is a question I struggle with daily when I am in my library with my students. They, being children, want the new shiny cover not the old outdated one. Really who can blame them? I mean, we are a visual society. If given the choice between Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Old Yeller, their choice will be that Wimpy Kid every time unless someone steps in to guide them in a new direction…and that is where I come in. Over the years I have tried to teach my kiddos that, “You can’t judge a book by its cover”. I wish I could say that they all listen to my wisdom, but sadly that is not the case…come on! I’m a grown-up! What do I know? So how do I prove my point? I read an older book with an outdated cover, but an awesome story! Here is one of my favorites…
Tracks in the Snow by Lucy Jane Bledsoe was written in 1997 when Walkmans were still the rage and pay phones were on every corner. Funny as that sounds, I have to explain both of those things to my 4th graders while reading this book aloud. The kids really don’t understand that there are no cell phones and computers in the story. It is always fun when I start the book because the kids look at me like I am crazy. They just know it is going to be a boring book, however every year many tell me it was their favorite book of the school year. Yeah, me!!
Here is why this book is so great and stands the test of time…It is about survival, seeing the truth in people, and most of all asking, “How far would you go for a friend?”.
You have two 10 year old girls trying to survive a blizzard in the Sierra mountains all the while looking for another girl. There are Bob Cats, unexpected storms, no shelter, lack of food, falling into freezing water, and missed opportunities for rescue at every turn. The kids LOVE it! The author writes these amazing cliff-hangers at the end of the chapters and the kids moan in pain when we have to stop. I LOVE that emotion!!! See…an older book, but a great story! I could go on and on about this book! It is honestly that good!
I guess if I’m going to talk older books, I have to talk new ones, too. Personally, I think this has been a great year for children’s books. It seems that authors are going away from the “Harry Potter” type book for kids. I like this new trend, and No, I don’t hate Harry. I just want some variety. 🙂
The Captain Awesome Series by Stan Kirby quickly became a favorite of mine and of my 2nd graders this past school year. I mean the kid thinks he is a super hero! Who doesn’t LOVE that attitude? The main character Eugene McGillicudy loves comics and superheros and has a supersecret alter ego named CAPTAIN AWESOME! He has an archenemy named…Queen Stinkypants from the Planet Baby (his sister), a villain named…Little Miss Stinky Pinky(mean girl at school) and he even has a side kick…Nacho Cheese Man(his new best friend Charlie). This series is recommended for ages 5-7, but this 45 year old loved it, too!
So that’s what I think and I seriously hope you will read these two book suggestions. But let me ask you this…What is your favorite children’s book? Is it one that you read as a child or one that you discovered after you had children? I’m curious! Let’s talk books!