Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Scholastic's Parent & Child Magazine recently completed its 100 Greatest Books for Kids list. Their Number One Pick?  E.B. White's beloved book, Charlotte's Web.  I think it was a perfect choice...a wonderfully illustrated story (thank you, Garth Williams), told from the perspective of animals, revealing many truths about humanity, friendship, sacrifice, and the fleeting nature of life.
Don't you love the innocence of Garth Williams' pen and ink illustrations?
I'll never forget my third grade teacher reading Charlotte's Web aloud to our class. We all loved the plot and characters:
the Terrific, and yet Humble Pig, Wilbur;
Fern, the compassionate farm girl who is Wilbur's loving owner;
Templeton, the sneaky rat who always has food on his mind;
and finally Charlotte, the kind spider who be-friends Wilbur when none of the other animals will, and who ultimately saves the pig from being butchered.
Original illustration [source]
My schoolmates and I were so drawn into the story, I doubt we realized E.B. White was helping to expand our vocabularies (did you utilize Strunk and White's The Elements of Style for a college-prep English class?  Yes he's that "White"):

And then, just as Wilbur was settling down for his morning nap, he heard again the thin voice that had addressed him the night before.
"Salutations!" said the voice.
Wilbur jumped to his feet. "Salu-what?" he cried.
"Salutations!" repeated the voice.
"What are they, and where are you?" screamed Wilbur. "Please, please, tell me where you are. And what are salutations?"
"Salutations are greetings," said the voice. "When I say 'salutations,' it's just my fancy way of saying hello or good morning.”

We were also being led by E.B. White to not only consider the treasure of true friendship, but to look at the wonder of nature:

“Do you understand how there could be any writing in a spider's web?"
"Oh, no," said Dr. Dorian. "I don't understand it. But for that matter I don't understand how a spider learned to spin a web in the first place. When the words appeared, everyone said they were a miracle. But nobody pointed out that the web itself is a miracle."
"What's miraculous about a spider's web?" said Mrs. Arable. "I don't see why you say a web is a miracle-it's just a web."
"Ever try to spin one?" asked Dr. Dorian.”

Original illustration [source]

The list of 100 Greatest Books for Kids was selected by the editors of Scholastic's Parent & Child Magazine from more than 500 titles suggested by ten contributors  The books were chosen from 4 categories:
"Books to Cuddle With": Ages 0–3
"Books to Explore Together": Ages 4–7
"Books to Grow On": Ages 8–10
"Books to Discover": Ages 11+

Click HERE for the interactive virtual bookshelf, with all 100 titles.

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