Welcome to another week of Top 5 Wednesday! This week’s topic is children’s books we think deserve to be reread as adults. When I became a school librarian about 10 years ago, (I was a special ed. teacher before that) I reread a lot of the classics. That way when students asked me about them I had a better response for them than, “Oh, that’s a classic!” I also read many of them with my son when he was younger, and it was always a joy to see him discover these excellent books for himself. I also found myself finding new aspects to them that I never picked up as a child, such as the religious undertones of the Narnia books. Or the simpler life that they all depicted. It was hard to narrow this down to just 5 books, but I tried to stick to ones that I had fond memories of as a child as well as an adult.
1. Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne.
I have such great memories of listening to my mom read this book to me, of listening to the audiobook, and then reading it to my son. They are just such wonderful and simple stories of childhood, kindness and most importantly friendship. I will always have a soft spot for Eeyore, he was my favorite character and I loved his stories the best. When I read them with my son, I was always moved by the way the animals interacted with each other and always helped each other out. Although I like the original Disney versions that were on TV when I was little, I am not a huge fan of the newer ones. They lost the innocence of the stories.
2. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis.
This was another one that I enjoyed both as a child and then reading it with my son. We read the whole series, although I don’t think I read more than four of them as a child. I totally missed the religious stuff as a kid, but was amazed by it as an adult. I don’t think my son picked up on it either, but we were pretty lax about religion as a family, so he had no background for it either. The movie was pretty good, and I was glad to see that they stuck to the original story as much as they did. They could have totally ruined it.
3. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
I can’t remember if I read this with my son, but I know his second grade teacher did and then they did and after school field trip to see the movie. I think it was the live version one they did 15 or so years ago. Again, I just adore the innocence and the friendship message that this book has. I also loved Charlotte as a character. I am not a big fan of spiders, but she certainly got me thinking about them and how useful they are. I always think of Charlotte when I see webs in my garden. And Maybe it is because it won a Newbery Honor, but I really like the fact that the cover as never really changed that much over the years. There are a few that are movie tie ins, but they always go back to this one eventually.
4. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
This is another one whose cover has stayed basically the same over the years. I remember this one fondly as one of the first really out there fantasy books I ever read. This was one I revisited as a new librarian, because I knew I could get a new generation to love it as much as I did. I am happy to say I wasn’t disappointed with it as an adult, and I probably liked it even more than as a child. As a child, I missed a lot of the puns and jokes that are kind of aimed at adults and so it was fun being in on them now. They did make a movie of it back in the 70’s but I don’t think I ever saw it. Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi sort of reminded me of this book when I read it. So if you liked Furthermore, and you haven’t read Phantom Tollbooth, give it a try.
5. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
This is such a great book, as all of his books were. I had a color illustrated version growing up that I think I still have somewhere. I remember reading this book over and over again as a child. I loved the adventure and the magic of the story. I loved how the cruel aunts were dealt with. I also liked the inventive way they dealt with the sharks. Again the message of friendship and working together was what really appealed to me as a child and an adult. I haven’t seen the movie, I’m afraid that they have totally ruined the book, because they usually do.
So as I am looking back at what I wrote, and I noticed that I mention the movies for every single book. I think this is because I always emphasized to my son that he should read the books before seeing the movie. There were a few exceptions to this rule over the years, but for the most part he did. I think he got more out of the movies that way, and it was also a good way for us to discuss the book and the movie together. I still try to read before I watch, and sometimes I am surprised by the movie, but more often I think I am disappointed by them in some ways. I know that movies are a different medium, but I really hate when they just take the names and maybe the basic plot and turn it into something totally different (Yes I am looking at you Percy Jackson and How to Train Your Dragon movies).
Well, that is it for this week’s Top 5 Wednesday Post. As always please stop by the Goodreads community and see what other children’s books people think should be read by adults. Next week’s topic is Favorite Science Fiction and Fantasy in other media, should be a good one!