Saturday, August 17, 2013

Favorite? Who can pick a favorite?

The original question on the ALA Forum was -- is it ok for a child to have a favorite book?  I can't see any downside, so I found the question confusing.  A friend of mine said, in conversation "is it ok for a child to learn to read?"  Memorizing your favorite book and pretending to read it is a key pre-reading skill.  I can only imagine that the question was posed by a parent who was tired of reading the same story again and again, and it made me think about favorite books.
Sorting donated books at: KAN Cool for School  supply give away (photo by Anne S)

My father could recite Green Eggs and Ham from memory, years after my sister had moved on to the Babysitter's Club and beyond to college level texts.   He would sometimes throw a few lines into a conversation, mostly to amuse and distract grandchildren in a restaurant "I do not like them with a fox, I do not like them in a box, I do not like Green Eggs and Ham, I do not like them, Sam I am".  While Green Eggs was not my personal favorite, even of the Seuss/Cerf beginning readers (I liked Go Dogs Go) I treasure the memory of the Rev. Jesse Jackson reading the book aloud on Saturday Night Live when Mr. Giesel passed on.  It was such a fitting tribute to an author who changed a lot of children's lives.  Of all the books, my favorite comes from the longer stories -- I love Thidwick the Big Hearted Moose.  

Many of us are filled with insatiable curiosity

As a child, I was often read to from Just So Stories, The Princess and Curdie, and Grimm's Fairy Tales.  My father often chose "The Elephant's Child" when it was his turn to pick, although his real favorite was the story of how the alphabet was made.  I had less interest in linguistic evolution than either my father or Mr. Kipling, but if he imagined that Elephant's Child would serve as a cautionary tale, he was doomed to disappointment.  I just didn't see getting the coolest nose in the animal kingdom as being a punishment.  I am afraid to this day, I am full of " 'satiable curiosity'."  As a journalist, librarian, writer and researcher, it has defined my life.  Children like a lot of things about reading aloud -- the attention of their parents, the plot of the story, the pictures in the book, and the coziness of the experience.  I am most grateful today for the appreciation I developed for the beauty of language.  My father taught speech and theater and was a great reader.  My mother also had a flair for the dramatic.  Who wouldn't love a story that included lines like this? I can still hear it in my father's voice:

 'It is,' said the Elephant's Child, and before he thought what he was doing he schlooped up a schloop of mud from the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo, and slapped it on his head, where it made a cool schloopy-sloshy mud-cap all trickly behind his ears. 

[The Project Gutenberg EBook of Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling, line 74]   There are other 
versions available on the site, and you'll find it in libraries & bookstores as well. 
Don't you want to find out how the Leopard Got His Spots?  
To be continued....
and it is not too late to add your favorite book(s) to the comment section!   

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Fortune Cookie

Information is not knowledge.
Knowledge is not wisdom.
Wisdom is not truth.
Truth is not beauty.
Beauty is not love.
Love is not music.
Music is the best.
Frank Zappa