children’s books from feminist readers: Erin

A guest post by Erin, an academic and mother of two very busy and curious little people.

a beloved book from childhood

One of the things that I find so interesting about having small children to whom I read all the time is re-discovering the classics from my childhood.  For example, I don’t remember having Frog and Toad read to me, or Richard Scarry, or George and Martha.  But as soon as I see the covers, I remember the picture and experience familiarity and happiness. The books I remember reading and loving are from when I was able to read on my own – my favorites in childhood were Anne of Green Gables (the whole series) and Little Women. Perhaps this speaks to a paucity of good chapter books for girls during the 80s.  Reading those books gave me an abiding interest in the past (I was fascinated by the difference between those times and my own) and providing a good basis for moving on to more sophisticated 19th century fiction when I got a bit older, like Jane Austen.

what that says about that child

Precocity, and a keen desire to see myself, or parts of myself, reflected in books.  The frustration that there weren’t any “girls” in books or movies.  My delight when a teacher read a fantasy book – so great, Molly! – called The Hero and the Crown that had a heroine with my name, spelled differently: Aerin.

a children’s book worth sharing enthusiastically now

My kids aren’t reading on their own – we’re still in the small book section. We love everything by Mo Willems, especially Amanda and her Alligator and the Knuffle Bunnies.  I’m pretty strict about the books I read to my kids – I don’t like them to read stupid books; there’s a lot of junk at the library.  I want the language to be beautiful. Like Owl Moon, which is basically a poem. Or funny or clever. I’ve also been reading Paul Goble’s books to my 4 y.o.  He loves them – they are oral stories from the Plains Indians, with beautiful illustrations, and they have good ethical messages.

what that says about this reader’s evolution

I’ve always read voraciously.  I still love language and reading.  And stories about girls! And the past! The joy of getting lost in a book is an enduring one.  I hope that my children will have it, too.

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3 Comments

  1. Molly
    Posted 27 March 2013 at 8:11 PM | Permalink

    We love Mo Willems’s books too–especially Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed! I’ll have to check out The Hero and the Crown

  2. Posted 28 March 2013 at 12:11 AM | Permalink

    I loved The Hero and the Crown. Robin McKinley, right? I had her Outlaws of Sherwood and loved that and also her book Beauty I remember as being *amazing*. It was a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast.

    (What my book choices then and now tell me is that I haven’t changed as much as I sometimes think I have! ;)

  3. Posted 28 March 2013 at 12:15 AM | Permalink

    *An excerpt from one of the only three one-star reviews at Amazon of Beauty tells me I wasn’t wrong about it: “The vocabulary is too hard and there is too much going on…” ;-D

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