I know we’re all a little old for picture books here, but there are times when nothing feels as good as a trip down memory lane. I was in a children’s book store in Amherst, MA recently, and I happened across a bunch of books that I realized I remembered perfectly even though I hadn’t opened them in many, many years.
Isn’t that how we all got started reading? I never would have learned about the rich, life-changing experiences that books can offer if it hadn’t been for all those late nights with the big illustrated hardcovers that my mom used to read to me (awwwww). So, in the spirit of nostalgia, I’d like to present the FIVE best picture books ever.
5. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
I bet there are a lot of construction workers and contractors out there who can trace their love for building things with big machines back to this book. The relationship between Mike and Mary Anne is really sweet — he stands up for her when newer, bigger shovels come along, and she pays him back by working twice as hard — and I wonder if any of those big, gruff guys you see driving bulldozers feel the same way about their vehicles.
4. The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd
This one usually gets overlooked in favor of Brown/Hurd’s better-known Goodnight Moon, but it’s still really sweet. Apparently it’s David Letterman’s favorite book to read to his kids, and it was my mom’s favorite book to read to me when I was a kid — and if I say anything more about it, I might cry a little bit (this actually happened the last time I read it).
3. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
You all know this one, but unfortunately I think the most common image of The Polar Express that people have these days is from that creepy animated movie. Don’t let that ruin it for you! The illustrations, like those in all Chris Van Allsburg books, are incredibly rich and evocative, and the story’s not too bad either. Half the reason I love hot chocolate as much as I do (which is a LOT) is that one scene where the kids are on the train and the porter brings them a tray of delicious, delicious, dark hot chocolate.
2. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd
What do you even really say about this one? I want you all to go out and buy copies for when you have children.
1. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Max is still who I want to be when I grow up.
And this fall, a movie version of Where the Wild Things Are will be coming to theaters.
What about you guys? Got any good memories of old children’s books? What are you going to read to your kids when you grow up?
— Jack, STACKS Staffer