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Children's Literature

Truly, I am a little moreinterested inchild and adolescent literature than I probably should be. I am just as happy curling up with an installment of the Chronicles of Narnia as I am with... anything more age appropriate. I'm a bigfan though. I was grilling my 8 and 10 year old cousins over the holiday weekend about what was on their summer reading lists and was pleased to hear that Matilda by Roald Dahl had made it on to my Goddaughter's list. I was and continue to be a hugeRoald Dahl fan, buthe didn't make it on Nicholas Kristof's list of "The Best Kids' Books Ever."However,Charlotte's Web, the Harry Potter's and Anne of Green Gables all did for which I was very pleased.What do you think ismissing?

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I'd vote for A Wrinkle in Time, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and The Trumpet of the Swan, E.B. White's neglected children's classic.Holes is also a great book for kids, but may not be an all-time great.In my dreams I see the Graduale Romanum on the list...

Why is Kristol an expert?Depends on younster's age.Certainly Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing belongs on the list.What about Dr. Seuss?For older kids, Dickens, Twain,etc.I think the classic comics of my youth were wonderful introductions to reading the real things.But, like Kristol, what doi I know?

"The Lorax" by Dr. Seuss. My kids loved it. Can't get kids started early enough on environmental awareness.

The Lemony Snicket Series of Unfortunate Events is definitely in this category of wonderful kid-lit that transcends age!My husband and I listened to The Chronicles of Narnia on our cross-country road trip this summer. Beautifully read by Lynn Redgrave, Derek Jacobi, Kenneth Branagh and Patrick Stewart among others. And I have a very soft spot for My Side Of The Mountain.

E. Nesbit's novels for children, especially the "Bastables" series narrated by funny, bookish Oswald Bastable, and her marvelous tales about real children involved with magical objects and creatures shouldn't be missed. My favorites as a child were her Psammead stories: "The Five Children and It," "The Phoenix and the Carpet," and "The Story of the Amulet." They are wry, witty, and good reads for adults as well as children. They were very influential on C. S. Lewis and J. K. Rowling, among others. Nesbit was a founder of the Fabian Society, a dear more than friend of G. B. Shaw, a rather Bohemian lady of great charm and originality. (There's a good Bio by Julia Briggs.) When I was in grad school I taught during the day in an elementary school in the East Bronx, and my bright fifth graders loved the stories, especially one in which a group of children get one wish a day, but its results only last till sunset. ( One child blurts out a wish that their pesky baby brother would grow up, and suddenly he's a sophisticated college student whom they must follow anxiously all day for fear he will be somewhere inconvenient at sunset.)I still have the lot in my bedside bookcase.