Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Old favorites for a nostalgic holiday

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  Enjoy your turkey and your family and remember all the things for which you are grateful.  No matter where you are or what is going on in your life, there are small things that give your days light.

Libraries count among those things.  (And, no, we are not open on Thanksgiving but we are open on Black Friday!)  A trip to the library is better than a trip to the Mall because you come away from the library debt-free.

Right now, I am going through children's fiction to make sure that the books on the shelves at the Parkland Community Library are books that children want to read.  I have run across some old favorites - some of them written in and about simpler times.  Some of these stories were read by my parents and they make friendly reading today.

The stories of Louisa May Alcott are couched in the language of 19th century America but the characters and their values are timeless and enduring.  Check out Little Women or Little Men.  Although each book tells a story, the chapters are little tales in themselves and can be shared out loud.

L. Frank Baum wrote The Wizard of Oz and all of its sequels.  Once again, the language is charmingly old-fashioned but the books are full of adventure and fantasy and peopled by strange creatures.

The books of Thornton Burgess deal with animals who have human problems - trickery, jealousy, greed and mischievousness.  Animal Tales and Mrs. Peter Rabbit are two of Burgess's titles in the collection at the Parkland Community Library.

Elizabeth Enright's Melendy Family series starts with The Saturdays.  That story revolves around the adventures that the Melendy children have after they decide to pool their allowances.  Their weekly allowances are mind-bogglingly small in today's economy.   The adventures are adult-free and creative.  Read the rest of the series to find out how the Melendy children grow and change.

Eleanor Estes Moffats are another family to love.  Widowed Mrs. Moffat manages quite well with the help of her lively and creative brood.  I particularly love the chapter in which Rufus gets his own library card in Rufus M.

The Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Lovelace have a club of their own fans.  Right now, most of Lovelace's books are in storage.  Bring them back by putting a hold on the titles.  Get a taste of this series about the friendships among pre-teen and teen girls by checking out Heaven to Betsy which follows Betsy and Tacy during their first year of high school.

The list of beloved authors goes on and on and grows longer and longer.  Which of the authors our children crave today will still be on the shelves - or downloadable - when their children are learning to read?  Jeff Kinney and his Wimpy Kid?  Suzanne Collins of The Hunger Games?  Mary Pope Osbourne and her Magic Tree House?  And what about some of my all-time favorites?  I've listed them below.  Will they still be around in 40 years?  I hope so.

Lloyd Alexander -The Prydain Chronicles form a fantasy series that still entices and delights.
Betsy Byars - With numerous Newbery Awards and Honor books to her credit, Byars' books chronicle the day to day life of American children in sometimes difficult, sometimes hilarious and often suspenseful  circumstances.
Susan Cooper -Her Dark Is Rising novels lean heavily on the Arthurian legends to create fabulous fantasies.
Sid Fleischman - Funny, fast-paced, well-researched, Fleischman's novels offer accessible historical fiction and the occasional fantasy.
L. M. Montgomery - Anne of Green Gables was only one of Montgomery's heroines.
E. Nesbit - Old fashioned, tongue-in-cheek fantasies were Nesbit's stock in trade.

This is just the tip of the iceburg.  I will list other favorite authors in further posts.  Visit with these old friends; share them with your children.  And enjoy your Thanksgiving!

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