Stories, tales and fables which excite the imagination, embolden a sense of justice and impart the all important mindset of an individual are the brick and mortar of every Little Devil.
Many of us remember our favorite bits of juvenile literature and it is these, which have resonated with us throughout the decades that need be remembered. So it is here we will present a list of personal favorites from discerning individuals and perhaps you and your young ones will find a new favorite amongst them. Who says learning can’t be fun?
Goodnight Opus by Berkeley Breathed – Everyone’s favorite little penguin is tucked into bed with his pink bunny jammies, being read a bedtime story by his maternal and straight-laced Granny. But after she nods off in the middle of the book, Opus decides to depart from the text and create his own wonderful adventure with new-found friends, The Blue Footed Biped and his trusty pillow. This lovely children’s yarn challenges the reader to think radically, introduces the concept of creating your own story through not simply adhering to the text and even shines a little hope on the older generation at the end. It even rhymes.
Dragons Guard the Zoo by A.B. Curtiss – I picked up my copy of this wonderful collection of poetry and short fables at the local fair, from the author who had a booth there. Along with some rare editions of older fairy tales (which I jumped on), she also had her own volumes to sell. This one is a true treasure, and while not all of it is incredible, what it DOES contain is the chance to expand and build upon the imaginative concepts offered. Many of the fun , silly and downright weird characters tend to have recurring roles in the book and there is a lot of good groundwork from which a parent and child could work from in regards to poetry writing or even play acting. The title, which is a poem of the same name within the book is a wonderful offering in and of itself.
Rule of The Bone by Russell Banks – This story will always hold a special place in my heart. It is the tale of a young punker who has been through some pretty twisted stuff in his life. I identified in my own youth, with many of the trials he goes through, and the path he chose, while adventurous and romanticized a bit was always a clarion call to action NOT to slip down the path of criminal activity, drugs and the seedier ways of life. This coming of age tale, from a teenage boys perspective is written in “real speech” and leaves no airs to pretentious insinuations or forcing of personalities. I would recommend most heartily this book to any teenager, and certainly to any parent of teenagers. Perhaps, unfortunately, your child has gone through, or is going through the very same thing Chappie (Bone) goes through and this book might serve them as it did me.
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein – This classic collection of Shel Silverstein should be in everyone’s library, whether child, adult, parent or bachelor curmudgeon extraordinaire. With some wonderful little sketchings and drawings which accompany the literature it is quite a delight to read. Most of it does rhyme, and is silly, or dorky, and even at times makes very little sense. But that, I find, is half the fun. There is so much possibility in such works which can stretch the imagination and make you draw your own conclusions, with simply a few well phrased sentences. Having reread the book several times now, and recalling what I thought of it in my younger years it is very self-exploratory to see just how much my perspective has changed.
Dragon’s Milk by Susan Fletcher – One of my very first literary introductions to fantasy and dragons, this story tells the tale of a little girl, Kaeldra who must somehow procure the milk of a dragon to save her ailing sister. It is a wonderful yarn, easily read by a young intermediate reader and as it involves a heroine, is quite empowering for little girls who do not always delight in the fancies of Princess dresses and prince charming. With a long, terrifying journey, baby-sitting draclings, a would-be dragonslayer and an epic journey ahead of it, this book has some very grown up scenarios in it. And who doesn’t like dragons?
Where’s Waldo? The Fantastic Journey by Martin Handford – Forgot about Waldo? Shame on you! This incredible book, so simple in design but delightful in imagery not only gives children hours of practice in concentration and honing observation skills but opens up dialogues for inquiry about the other characters and environments which we find Waldo exploring. A favorite from many a childhood, the series of Where’s Waldo? books are sure to please children of any age.
Not Everyone Is Nice: Helping Children Learn Caution with Strangers (Let’s Talk) by Frederick Alimonti –
This very important and often difficult to understand concept is presented well in this children’s book. Not only does it present a primary scenario which might have your little one encountering a stranger of ill-intent, but also shows how her parents explain to her just how some people are not always your friends. Not everyone is nice, is a fact of life and for those of us with exuberantly friendly and trusting children, the message could not be more important to their safety and well being. P.S. Mustache and beany = pervert.
No Dragons for Tea: Fire Safety for Kids (and Dragons) by Pendziwol, Jean E. – There is nothing more important in your emergency family plan then actual practice and execution of the whats and the wheres. In this cute story, a little girl befriends a dragon in the grocery store and takes it home for tea. Shenanigans ensue and the house is set on fire. The little girl, with all of her fire safety smarts saves the dragon and shows just how it’s done when you don’t want to be burned alive or asphyxiated (the more likely result) when a dragon sneezes in your house.
I Said No! A kid-to-kid Guide to Keeping Private Parts Private by Zack and Kimberly King – No means no. I know I’m not the only one who has issues with our little ones showing off their junk, proudly proclaiming that their ‘gina’ is the next best thing since ever! And while its important for our children to have a healthy pride and understanding of themselves, its not something we should be sharing about willy-nilly. This book presents its content from the perspective of a child, speaking to other children. Using a fun and informative flag based system, this book goes over some easy to understand concepts on privacy, touching and personal space. It has some very good dialogue and boundary setting options for parents to model their life lessons after and help children come to terms with propriety and safety.
Do You Have a Secret? (Let’s Talk About It!) Paperback by Everybody loves secrets! They hold power and promise! But some secrets should be shared, even when its difficult to do. We want our children to talk to us, to let us in and tell us things. And while we can tell them till forever that we love them, we’ve been there, we understand… they need to have some perspective on what exactly they need to let us know about and how it affects them. From bullying, to mistakes, inappropriate encounters and everything in-between, this honest and easy to follow books talks about good secret and bad secrets, and what you can do to feel better when something doesn’t feel right.
The Taking Tree: A Selfish Parody by – Everything that The Giving Tree should have been and more. There is no happy ending. Everybody dies. Fuck you. “The Taking Tree is not so happy when the boy takes her twigs to pick on his sister, or takes her apples to sell for college (she’s an oak tree for goodness sake), or when he cuts off her branches to build a house that he burns for insurance money. And the boy is not sorry at all. Ever. In fact, he’s kind of a jerk. And the boy asks for more, and more, and more until the oak tree is so fed up she just can’t take it any longer. While another story might end sweetly with an old man sitting on a stump. This one does not.”