Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Never Judge A Book By Its Movie...Wait, What?!

Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea.
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth;
"Blackbirds" stowed in the hold beneath.
I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every child has a right to know.
I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness lent with his final breath.
I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings-
Stories that stir with an upward touch.
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!
You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be --
I had a Mother who read to me.
--Strickland Gillilan
I know it is not mother's day. The day when this sentimental little piece of poetry soars to the pinnacle of its ubiquity. But it is the start of our summer vacation and so....Books. This post is about books. My mother read aloud to us. Oh, I know, all good mothers do this. But our mother KEPT reading to us, well after we could read for ourselves. Whenever she came to a good part in a book, she would grab the ear of the closest child, spill all the backstory and then read the passage aloud. I know the full story of dozens of books I have never read. She still does this. We were visiting my mother's home last week and sure enough...read she did. This is a tradition that is clearly being passed down to generations. I read aloud to my children who are all capable of reading themselves. They read to me and to each other as well. Stories were meant to be communal experiences, yet we often consider reading only as a solitary pleasure. Shame. So, in celebration of another wonderful summer of reading pleasure I thought I would share some of our favorites. Tough because there are so many, but they are just suggestions. I would appreciate any comments on other suggestions of your favorites.
Holes by Louis Sacher
Probably one of the best books for children ever written. Two beautiful stories artfully interwoven and skillfully joined and resolved in the end. There are lessons to be learned in every chapter of love, friendship, heroism and choices. It is humorous and adventurous leaving readers feeling joy and sadness all at once. The movie adaptation is well worth watching due largely to the author's involvement in the making of it, including a cameo appearance in the film.
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe series by C.S. Lewis
I do not suppose this even needs any explanation, but these are timeless stories with plenty to offer boys and girls from the smallest in your home to the oldest. Again, decent film adaptations have recently been made that thankfully did not diminish the religious aspects of the books. But certainly read the book first!
Matilda by Roald Dahl (actually ANY of his books)
Roald Dahl is by far one of the most gifted of children's authors. He never writes "down" to children. The heros and heroines in his books are strong, and good always triumphs over evil. In Matilda, the lead character is dealt a bit of a bad hand in the beginning, but finds an inner strength that allows her to tap into power she did not know she had and turn her life into what she dreams it can be. Beautiful story of resilience and courage in the face of difficulty. Wonderful movie adaptation as well!
Mrs. Frisby and the rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
This well written story of a mouse family who find a secret band of super intelligent rats is all about adventure and a bit of mystery. Readers are required to think about society and intelligence and humanness and what makes us who we are. The film version is awful and does not stay true to the book, a big time no-no in this house!
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
This is the first chapter book I ever remember reading all the way through when I was a girl, maybe 8 or 9 years old. I couldn't put it down. I gave a copy to my oldest when she was young and she had the same experience. Engrossing bit of historical fiction with plenty to discuss. Not terribly long, but packed with adventure and a strong young female protagonist. Rumor is a film is in the making!
Junie B. Jones (Barbara Park) in all her glory is worth reading aloud anytime, anywhere no matter how old your kids get. Have them read it aloud. Do the voices. You cannot get better!
Oooh and The Inkworld trilogy (Iheart, Inkspell and Inkdeath) by Cornelia Funke. These are some of the best adventure, mystery stories ever written for kids. Long, but so engaging that you cannot put them down. Amazing characters and well written (they were originally written in German, it might be even better but I do not read German). The movie is terrible.
I had better stop I guess. Ugh there are so many more to cover. Perhaps this will be a two-parter. Or perhaps no one gives a dang what we read around here! But I do love to share so...there you have it. Don't forget to leave a suggestion and a little synopsis. Happy summer reading!
Quote of the Day: "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them."
Mark Twain


  1. I have to confess, I've never liked Junie B. Jones, because I can't stand her bad grammar. Maybe I should give her another try.

    I just finished reading The Secret Garden with my daughter, and she really enjoyed it. We are doing The Little Princess next.

    I loved The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Oh, I hope they do it justice in the movie! I hadn't thought of it for my daughter, but she might be old enough now to appreciate it. Thanks for the idea!

  2. Okay . . . I posted a super long post with all the books I love the most . . . and it's not here. YARGHHHHHH!!!!!

    Frankly, Leslie, you may be sorry you asked me this question, as I am like you and totally believe in reading to children. I have read a GAZILLION books to my girls (and still do upon occasion LOL). Here are some of my favorites:

    "These Is My Words" by Nancy E. Turner

    "The Tale of Despereaux" by Kate DiCamillo (which is far and away better than the movie)

    "The #1 Ladies Detective Agency" by Alexander McCall Smith

    "Leadership and Self-Deception" by The Arbinger Institute (think C. Terry Warner and James Ferrell)

    "The Peacegiver" by James Ferrell

    "The Giver" by Lois Lowry

    "The Traveller's Gift" by Andy Andrews

    "The Angels of Morgan Hill" by Donna VanLiere

    "Mafia to Mormon" by Mario Facione

    "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd

    "Autumn Blue" by Karen Harter

    "The Five People You Meet In Heaven" and "For One More Day" by Mitch Albom

    "Letters for Emily" by Camron Wright

    "Absent In The Spring" by Mary Westmacott (a pseudonym for Agatha Cristie, but not at all scary - it's a deep thinker)

    "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl

    "The Persian Pickle Club" by Sandra Dallas

    "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Annie Barrow and Mary Shaffer

    and this is just the beginning! LOL

    You also have to consider some of my all time favorites like Pippi Longstocking, Anne of Green Gables, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach (I love Roald Dahl, too!), Little Women, The Little Princess, Little House on the Prairie, and Raggedy Ann and Andy (which is the series my 3rd Grade teacher read to us as a class after lunch every day).

    And! How do you know my friend Denise?

  3. I just read the "Hunger Games" and its sequel "Catching Fire" by Suzanne Collins.........one of the best reads ever! The third "The Mockingjay" comes out in August and I'm counting the days. I also love "Number the Stars", I think Lois Lowry is the author of that one, but I'm too lazy to look it up.

  4. Sus...I do not actually know Denise we just follow each other in the blogosphere, but I like her! And do YOU have a blog? Or you Dana?

    Thanks also for all the great suggestions Denise, Sus and Dana!

  5. Yay! I was looking for a few good books. I am ready to start reading with them again. I wanna read them The Box Car Children. I remember reading those and Nancy Drews all the time. Great post! Really! I loved it!

  6. LOVE Holes. Love the movie. Love the book. Love everything about it.

    Inkheart the movie was terrible. TERRIBLE.

    It's not a movie but have you read The Hunger Games. DO IT NOW!

  7. So I am in New Zealand, and have been pretty much blog free, but I happened to look today and saw you had written so I had to read it.

    What a great mother you are!! I am not as good of one. I read to my kids when they were small but not when they were older. My sister did though and her kids still have fond memories of reading books with her up until they were in high school. I thought that was such a sweet thing. I wish I had done it. Good for you!

  8. We're just finishing up a series called "The Keys of the Kingdom" by Garth Nix and have loved it. The kids have loved it. MOst of them we've listened to on tape or CD so we can all listen together and not fight over the book. The 7th and final book we currently only have in book form and it's killing those who have to wait to wait their turn. Oh well, learn a little patience over the summer, too!

    We also loved "Simon Bloom: The Gravity Keeper". THe author escapes my brain right now (along with too many other things to mention!) but the kids learned tons about physics while enjoying a fun story. Never thought those two things would be in the same book!

    Thanks for your suggestions. Have a great summer!

  9. I read out loud to the kids every summer. Haven't picked my book for this go around. We loved reading the Chronicles of Narnia. We also enjoyed reading the Fablehaven series together. It not only helps me spend time with the kids and helps them develop a love of reading, but by reading to them they've become better readers.

  10. I don't actually think the adaptation of Matilda is as true to the book as it should be. Although I do like Mara Wilson's part in it, she was a very good child actress.

    Stopping by from MMB.

  11. I loved The Chronicles of Narnia when I was little!

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