kid book recommendation

Well, we’re recovering from Thanksgiving here in Landisville. I managed to eat turkey every day, and drink quite a lot of good wine. Hope you and yours had a lovely time, too.

As I mentioned a few days ago, my MIL came and stayed with us over Thanksgiving. She brought books for the kids, along with excellent mushrooms for the adults. And the book that she brought for the Bee was so extraordinary, that I just had to share it. It was The Old Country, by Mordicai Gerstein. It was the first time that the Bee just demanded that we read a book all the way through until it was done, in that fanatical way that I (and I suspect other book-lovers) get. They zipped through it in just under two days, and after it was over, the Bee clutched it to her chest and said, “I’m keeping this book forever, and I’m going to read it to my kids when I’m a grown-up.”

That made me so happy, because I know two things now. #1 is that the Bee is listening when I talk to her about books that I read in my childhood. One of my major regrets about the dissolution of my childhood home, is that all my books were lost. Landisdad has acres of books that he read in childhood, which we got when his mom sold their house (right before the Bee was born). I’m not really sure what happened to the books that I owned as a kid. There was only so much stuff I could take when I moved in with my dad. I guess I thought my mom would hold on to stuff like that, but she hasn’t (and she’s moved several times herself). It’s one thing to buy new copies of books that I loved as a child. It’s another for my kids to read the actual books that landisdad had (most complete with inscriptions from his parents).

Thing #2 that I now know is that she understands that reading is something to share and enjoy, not something to keep to yourself. And those are pretty good lessons about books, as far as I’m concerned.

The Old Country is an allegory about the Holocaust, told through the eyes of animals. There’s a substantial fantasy element, with humans turning into animals & vice versa. The review of it that I read (after the fact) says it’s recommended for kids 11-14, and there are some disturbing scenes of war in the book. It’s a bit advanced for the Bee, frankly, and I wouldn’t have bought it for her myself. But it is an incredible piece of writing, and I highly recommend it for older kids. Gerstein’s other books all seem to be for much younger readers–on the strength of this one, I’m buying the Potato his Alphabet book for a Hanukkah present. Gerstein was apparently an animator before he got into children’s books, and I’m really looking forward to some interesting illustrations.


November 28, 2005. books for kids.


  1. twin towers « Bumblebee Sweet Potato replied:

    […] wire between the towers in 1974. We’ve been great fans of Gerstain’s work since the Bee fell in love with his The Old Country. His picture books, including this one, are […]

  2. Jessica replied:

    Wow – that book sounds really interesting. A Girl might like it. A long time ago, a friend gave us a book called “But God Remembered” which contains stories about women in the Old Testament. A Girl has always been drawn to it – even when it was too “old” for her. With all the books we have that she missed while she was away – that was the one she pulled out to read when she got home.

  3. chip replied:

    sounds great I’ll check it out.

    I think kids learn by seeing what their parents do. If you’re a book fanatic, I don’t think it’s possible that your kids won’t be one too. Both our kids didn’t take to reading until the end of 2nd grade, before that they didn’t like to read. But since then it’s been nonstop. Glad the Bee is following in your footsteps.

  4. Suzanne replied:

    Thanks for the recommendation. It must be pretty gratifying to hear your daughter talk about treasuring a book she’s just read. I hope that I can instill a similar love of reading in my kids.

  5. Library Lady replied:

    Best way to do it is read with them. And read. And READ. And then read some more…

    And make friends with your local children’s librarian. There are SO many good books on the shelves and we love sharing them with other people!

  6. Jim replied:

    I’m likewise experiencing that love with Lilly. I wanted to share Charlotte’s Web with her but with the release of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, I’ve been strong-armed into reading The Chronicles of Narnia. It has a lion in it and ever since I took her to see The Lion King in the IMAX release, she loves all things leonine.

    We’ll see if she lasts through all seven books or if I can bring her the beauty of E.B. White.

  7. Moonface replied:

    Sharing books and reading to each other is one of the daily requirements in our household. It’s such a great way to spend time together, especially when the books are the same as the ones you loved/used as a child. We also love the books that come with a dramatised audio version, which we usually get from our local library.

  8. Mere replied:

    How neat for the Bee!

  9. Fidget replied:

    I used to eat books, EAT THEM. My mother gave them to my unappreciative siblings who trashed them and saddened me. The Witch of Blackberry Pond was one of my favorites

  10. landismom replied:

    Oh, the Witch of Blackberry Pond! that takes me back…

    Thanks for the reminder, Fidget!

  11. esther replied:

    My 6 year old loves this author’s “The Man Who Walked Between the Towers”, which is the story of the frenchman who tightrope walked between the twin towers while they were under construction. My older kids like it, too, because of the memorial it serves to 9/11, without bringing up all the horrible images they were exposed to during that time.

    I will definitely be looking for the Old Country. Thanks.

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