“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”C. S. Lewis
My 2021 reading list may look like I got it mixed up with my youngest sister’s list. Because, once hooked, I never stopped reading fairy tale-ish adventures.
Books for the young are often the innocent entertainment, happy endings, and the clear sense of good and evil that we crave. Maybe it’s a way to return to the sweetness of childhood.
For another thing, don’t you love to absorb history through the eyes of children? Children’s historical fiction/nonfiction is more about the day-to-day burdens of growing up, rather than the complex ethical decisions behind the scenes. Children are often good at seeing the silver lining of the dark clouds, and they perceive the deepest details. Remember the first time you ventured out of country and how it engaged your five senses? This is how children observe their own cultures, with acute awareness of the sheer newness.
As I ponder the compilation of reasons for my childlike taste in books this past year, I hope you can relate to the love of wholesome literature!
A few of my favorite 2021 reads:
A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus
“Set against the backdrop of World War II, Anna, Edmund, and William are evacuated from London to live in the countryside, bouncing from home to home in search of a permanent family.” A friend gifted me this kindle book as a pleasant surprise. I absolutely loved reading every paragraph of this delightful novel. Don’t you love it when books reference books? The author gave the pages a touch of Narnia magic even though the genre is historical fiction. Such a satisfying ending, too. I bought this for my little sister’s birthday!
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr
I enjoyed every chapter, because of the simplicity, beauty in word choice, and humor. As the family travels to escape the Nazis, we brush up against several different cultures. Another though-provoking WWII refugee book, this one is even partly autobiographical. I’m hoping to find and read the sequels. *UPDATE: I do NOT recommend the rest of the books in the Pink Rabbit trilogy. They’re not appropriate for children and not for me either!
The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
“The War that Saved My Life” is real and raw, allowing me to better understand children with traumatic childhoods. It isn’t as well written, in my opinion, as the first two I reviewed, and a bit slower paced, but still an enjoyable storyline and realistic characterization. Also set during WWII.
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
Wanda is a Polish girl and her classmates make fun of her for her differences. She takes solace in her “100 dresses” and in kindness. This is a brief read.
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien
What if a few lab rats escaped their cages and made their own civilization with their newfound knowledge? An interesting, quick read about the secret lives of mice and really smart rats.
A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter
By one of my favorite American authors, this story shares a young woman’s (Elnora’s) journey to funding her own college through catching moths, mending her torn relationship with her mother, and doing what she believes is right at all costs. It’s set in Indiana’s Limberlost Swamp in the early 20th century.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
I recently found a lovely hardback copy of this story after listening to it in audiobook form (which is how I intake most of my books.) This story is just sweet, wholesome, transforming and humorous. Mary finds her health and character grow as she tends the secret garden. This story is gold.
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
“A Little Princess” is one of my favorite rags-to-riches stories! How the plot unfolds is just magically enchanting and oh so satisfying. A timeless must-read!
I also enjoyed reading Elizabeth Elliot, Corrie Ten Boom, and a couple vintage career-girl novels, but fell short of my goal of reading 30 books this year. Here’s to better reading success in 2022!
What are your favorite children’s chapter books? You know, in case I try to cram in the last few books to make my goal?
Or perhaps your favorite books for adults, but that still hold a wholesome wonder?