It’s that time of year again- time for the Primary Summer Reading List—but this time with a twist!
I recently moved back to my family home and found myself drawn to all of the bookshelves still full of wonderful picture books that my mom (an avid collector of kids’ lit) would read to me when I was young.
I started plucking long-forgotten faves that I wanted to share with our Primary family! All of them should be available through your local library system or via second hand online bookstores. I hope they inspire imagination, adventure, togetherness and most of all, I hope that you have so much fun reading them and remembering your own childhood favorites!
So wherever you are, head to the porch, the park or your happy place and check these out:
Come away from the Water, Shirley
Written and Illustrated by John Burningham (1977)
What it’s about: A cloudy day at the beach: Mom’s knitting, Dad’s reading the paper and Shirley is off in a world entirely of her own!
Why I love it: Such a lovely little book with minimal text and maximum possibility to make the rest of the story up yourself while looking at the charming whimsy of the colored pencil illustrations! There’s also a followup book that’s just as fun - Time to Get out of the Bath, Shirley, 1978
The Phantom Tollbooth
By Norton Juster with illustrations by Jules Feiffer (1961)
What it’s about: It’s a story of a little boy, Milo, who simply can’t figure out how to spend his time. He arrives home one day to find a mysterious gift sent to help him escape his constant boredom—a toy tollbooth that he drives through with his toy car (because, why not?!) that transports him into a world of imagination, wonder and learning. It’s here that he meets fantastic creatures and characters and is tasked with a most epic mission.
Why I love it: This book is seriously my “ride or die!” I have read and reread it countless times as a kid and as a grown up! It’s one of the coolest ways for kids to gain a better appreciation of math, grammar and science. It also provides touching insight into friendship and self-acceptance all through poetic prose and really great illustrations!
The Saga of Baby Divine
By Bette Midler with illustrations by Todd Schorr (1983)
What it’s about: The story follows the birth of the extravagant “Baby Divine” whose rather hum-drum parents are not sure how to handle the energy and charisma of their new little one who “arrived with High Heels on her feet and a sprig of red hair on her head.” It takes an unexpected adventure and the help of three flamboyant muses to teach her and Mom and Pop Divine how to combat feelings of difference and despair with confidence and self-acceptance through love and laughter!
Why I love it: Wow, just wow, to this one! Of course a children’s book by the Ms. Midler would have to be a spectacle at the very least. This book celebrates being unique in such a pure and magical way. I was so happy to reconnect with it and it definitely brought the happy tears!
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears
By Verna Aardema with illustrations by Leo and Diane Dillon (1975)
What it’s about: A game of telephone gone all wrong! Mosquito annoys the iguana, iguana is rude to the snake, snake scares the rabbit, rabbit worries the monkey and so on—a chain of events that leads to drama and an emergency council meeting of all the animals in the Kingdom. By way of an old West African tale, we learn exactly why mosquitoes are always buzzing around in people's ears!
Why I love it: This beautiful picture book (winner of the 1976 Caldecott Medal for its drawings) has some funny moments, some sad moments and acts as an excellent demonstration of cause and effect!
The Handy Girls Can Fix It!
By Peggy Kahn with illustrations by Enola Jensen (1984)
What it’s about: A group of young gals set up a repair shop in their town and in the process of taking on small jobs here and there, from fixing bikes to painting homes to repairing curtains, they inherit a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction and community with all of the folks they help around their neighborhood!
Why I love it: An awesome read for kids and parents that holds up today just as well as when I was a kid. A little determination and hard work can make such a difference in reminding ourselves how important we all are to making the world go round.
Do you have any favorite throwback children's books? Any you had forgotten, that this list brought back to mind? Any newer ones that instill great values and good feelings all around? We'd love to hear about these special reads and share them with the community! Write to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll share our communities’ recommendations in a follow-up post!