Read to Your Children (In Memory of Anna Dewdney)
By: Linnea Crowther
1 year ago
When Anna Dewdney died last weekend, her obituary in Publisher's Weekly included a unique specification: "She requested that in lieu of a funeral service that people read to a child instead."
That last wish seems a lot less unusual when you know what Dewdney did for a living: She was a prolific author of children's books, especially beloved for her "Llama Llama" series. With a career devoted to children's literature, it's no surprise that she'd want to continue to promote reading to the young, even after she's gone.
If you're one of the many who want to honor Dewdney by reading to a child, or you simply want to revisit your childhood favorites, we've put together a reading list to get you started. So find a book, a comfy chair, and a child or two, and enjoy these classics in memory of Anna Dewdney.
For young children:
"Llama Llama Red Pajama" by Anna Dewdney (1965 – 2016): The first book of Dewdney's "Llama Llama" series follows Baby Llama as he creates bedtime drama – and as he calms down again.
"The House on East 88th Street" by Bernard Waber (1921 – 2013): The first book in the "Lyle the Crocodile" series, this introduces us to a young crocodile who lives with a human family in the city.
"And to Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street" by Dr. Seuss (1904 – 1991): Dr. Seuss, born Theodore Geisel, wrote dozens of childhood favorites, but "Mulberry Street" was his first. Discover the amazing parade imagined by a young boy who loves to dream.
"Curious George Takes a Job" by H. A. & Margret Rey (1898 – 1977, 1906 – 1996): Everybody's favorite monkey discovers his talents for cleaning and painting in this installment of the classic "Curious George" series.
"The Berenstain Bears in the Dark" by Stan and Jan Berenstain (1923 – 2005, 1923 – 2012): There are dozens upon dozens of Berenstain Bears books, and young children absolutely love their gentle tales. You might start with this installment, which unfolds around a trip to the library by Brother and Sister Bear.
Kindergarten and up:
"Outside Over There" by Maurice Sendak (1928 – 2012): Millions of children have loved Sendak's best-known book, "Where the Wild Things Are." But don't miss "Outside Over There" – written for a slightly older audience than "Wild Things," it details young Ida's quest to find her baby sister, who was stolen by goblins. It inspired the 1986 movie "Labyrinth."
"When We Were Very Young" by A. A. Milne (1882 – 1956): This collection of poetry for children features the very first appearance of a character who would become iconic: Winnie-the-Pooh. He was still called "Mr. Edward Bear" here, but the illustrations show a familiar-looking, shirt-wearing teddy bear.
Ages 8 and up:
"From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler" by E. L. Konigsburg (1930 – 2013): This mystery, set in New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art, has been voted one of the all-time favorite books for children. Its exciting plot will draw in any young reader who loves to follow clues.
"Skinnybones" by Barbara Park (1947 – 2013): Park wrote the "Junie B. Jones" series as well as "Skinnybones," one of her most popular books. It follows the awkward Alex as he navigates school, sports, and unexpected fame.
"Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective" by Donald J. Sobol (1924 – 2012): Young sleuths love the "Encyclopedia Brown" series, which offers a number of mysteries in each installment. Readers can solve the mysteries themselves or turn to the back to find out how Encyclopedia figured them out.
"Ronia the Robber's Daughter" by Astrid Lindgren (1907 – 2002): Lindgren is best known for her "Pippi Longstocking" series, but she wrote dozens of other books for children. Among those is "Ronia the Robber's Daughter," which follows a young girl through an unusual upbringing.
"The BFG" by Roald Dahl (1916 – 1990): A new generation got to know Dahl's "Big Friendly Giant" when his tale of an orphaned girl and a kindly giant was adapted for the big screen by Steven Spielberg in 2016.
"The Marvelous Land of Oz" by L. Frank Baum (1856 – 1919): You may think you know all about Oz from the classic movie, "The Wizard of Oz," but that was just the beginning of the story. It continued with "The Marvelous Land of Oz," starring the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman along with new friends. Baum wrote 15 more Oz books after that, so there's plenty of Oz to read to a child.
"Little House in the Big Woods" by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867 – 1957): Generations have learned about the hardships and joys of the American frontier by reading Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" series. "Little House in the Big Woods" is where it all begins – published in 1932, it describes the author's earliest childhood years in Wisconsin.
Ages 10 and up:
"A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle (1918 – 2007): This award-winning classic takes children on an adventure through the universe via the folding of space and time. Its difficult concepts were, according to its author, much easier for children to grasp than adults, as their minds are still open to wild possibility.
"The Hobbit" by J. R. R. Tolkien (1892 – 1973): One of the best-known and best-loved children's books of all time, "The Hobbit" is many children's introduction to epic fantasy and the heroic quest. The fact that the hero is a small, humble Hobbit helps make it relatable to the young.
"The Chronicles of Narnia" by C. S. Lewis (1891 – 1963): This seven-book series follows a family of children as they repeatedly travel to the magical world of Narnia. It's been a childhood classic for decades, first published in 1950 and still beloved today.