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Ann's Recommended Reading List

February 2011

Hi, readers!

When I was a little girl, my favorite part of every day was when my mother or father read aloud to my sister Jane and me. This is probably why I fell in love with books long before I learned how to read on my own. When I was older, I got to choose my own books from the Princeton Public Library and the library at Littlebrook Elementary School, both of which I visited every week. Reading was (and still is) one of my favorite hobbies, so I’ve always surrounded myself with books.

While I loved coming across a new series or author at the library, I also enjoyed finding out about new books through recommendations from my friends and family. Since I discovered so many wonderful books this way, I thought I’d share a list with you of my all-time favorites. Maybe you can pick one or two of them up the next time you’re at the library!

Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh — Harriet keeps a secret journal and writes down everything she sees about the people she spies on. Although she eventually gets into trouble when her classmates find her journal, I loved the idea. When my family traveled out west and spent a night on a train, my sister Jane and I got notebooks and ran around the train spying on all the passengers!

Mary Poppins, by P. L. Travers — A wonderful fantasy about the most exciting nanny in the world. My mother gave me all four of the Mary Poppins books that she had read when she was a little girl. Mr. Popper’s Penguins, by Richard Atwater — I loved reading about Mr. and Mrs. Popper and the ridiculous (but so funny!) adventures they have with their adopted penguins. It was interesting to me that there weren’t any kids in this book, just a kooky couple and their penguin family.

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor — This is an amazing story about an African-American family in the South and how they cope with the challenges of racism during the Great Depression.

The Saturdays, by Elizabeth Enright —The Melendy childen are each given a chance to plan their own special Saturday adventure. What kid wouldn’t want to do this?

The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett — There are so many things I love about this book: 1) it’s set in England, 2) there’s a giant, spooky house way out in the country with hidden rooms and winding corridors, 3) the main character is an orphan girl, and of course, 4) the discovery of a secret garden on the grounds.

Stuart Little, by E. B White — I love all of E. B. White’s books, but this wonderful fantasy of a little mouse born to a human family is my favorite.

The Summer of the Swans, by Betsy Cromer Byars — This is a sweet, short, lovely story about the relationship between a 14-year-old girl and her mentally-challenged little brother.

Understood Betsy, by Dorothy Canfield Fisher — I was fascinated by this peek into the life of an orphaned girl moving from the city to the country in the early 1900s.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum — There are many books in the Wizard of Oz series, and I was taken in by the fantastic, crazy characters and, of course, the fantastic world of Oz.

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle — A science fiction/fantasy story in which teenage Meg and her five-year-old brother Charles Wallace set out to find their scientist father who is trapped on an alien planet.

I’d also like to recommend some of my favorite picture books, the kind that make great read-alouds:

Wait Till the Moon is Full, by Margaret Wise Brown; Happy Birthday to You!, by Dr. Seuss; The Tailor of Gloucester and Squirrel Nutkin, by Beatrix Potter; Millions of Cats, by Wanda Gag; ,The Story of Babar, by Jean De Brunhoff; Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans; Eloise, by Kay Thompson; Time of Wonder, by Robert McCloskey; The Plant Sitter, by Gene Zion; Throw a Kiss, Harry, by Mary Chalmers; and my absolute, all-time favorite—The Little House, by Virginia Lee Burton.

Now that I’m an adult, I usually read books written for grownups. But from time to time, it’s still fun to pick up one of the books from my childhood, and once again visit old friends and past adventures. I’ll hope you’ll check out some of the books on my list and come to love them as much as I do.

Happy reading!