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STEP ONE: Get the Classics*


Welcome to (How to Make) Tin-Can Stilts, brought to you by your local indie, The Dolphin Bookshop in Port Washington, NY.

If you know me (which you might—we’re neighbors!) then you know I have a personal blog, which I call You can read all about why that is when you have minute (click here if you have a minute). But here, in this space, I’m thinking you’re looking for guidance, some instructions maybe–so many kids books, such jam-packed shelves. So here is where I will try to help you find what you are looking for. Books for your kid’s biography project? Books to snap your toddler out of a mood? Books that just plain take you all away from weekend sports and snow days and the common core? Done.

Have a question? Comment away!  I’ll do my best. But for now, let’s get to step one of this little how-to manual.


It’s only proper to start with the basics. The books we loved as kids and the ones we will bully (okay, not bully so much as beg) our kids into reading just so we can say in a shrill, slightly hysterical way:

“See? See? Isn’t it wonderful? Don’t you want to go carve a hole in a tree and live in the wild now? Don’t you think Ms. Finney was the best English teacher ever? Don’t you?”

No, really there are just some books that are meant to be read for generations—once you get past the very 70’s ambiance of The Cat Ate My Gymsuit, you get to the heart of the original, my-teacher-saved-my-life story. These books transcend. They make great gifts. Here they are—come and get ‘em (at your local –ahem–bookstore, preferably).

Picture Books

A Hole is to Dig by Ruth Krauss (trust me)

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, illus by Helen Oxenbury

Lyle, Lyle Crocodile by Bernard Waber

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak  (movie will freak a kid out—stick with the book)

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (what? tired of snow? this might help.)

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst (see here for more on this book)

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

The Story of Ferdiand by Munro Leaf (this bull is the best kind of stubborn)

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (obviously)


Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson (read then turn off the tv for a day—see what happens. And by a day, I mean a few hours.)

Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban (don’t blame me if your kid wants their own lunchbox salt and pepper shakers afterwards—I mean blame me, but don’t be all mad about it)

Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel

The Box-Car Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner (for more on this, see here)


The Cat Ate My Gymsuit by the late great Paula Danziger (I’ve been known to go on and on about this one)

Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret  by Judy Blume (in case by some strange glitch in the universe, you forgot about this one)

The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright

The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden

All-of-a-Kind-Family by Sidney Taylor

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary

(Every single last Ramona book, but especially…)

Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Kongisburg (an essential, pre-Amber-alert read)

The BFG by Roald Dahl (You can pick any Dahl you like, I went with this one)

Poetry (great gift alert!)

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein (‘nuff said)

You know what else is located where the sidewalk ends?

The Dolphin Bookshop.

Dolphin Header Final Logo

*(I will re-visit each category from time to time and dig deeper as we go, so please don’t be mad if I left off a personal fave. We’ll get there. Promise.)

4 responses »

  1. Thank goodness you’re finally here. I always need a good book recommend, and I love so many on the list here! Everything looks great!!

  2. Thanks I love the idea! I came from a completely different language background, and I’m raising bilingual kids. I just love discovering and reading with them. I already read some of these to them by random selection in the library or through nursery book evening stories, but I’m looking for reading the ones I don’t know yet 😉

  3. Would also love to see some young adult suggestions for both boys and girls. Thank you!!!

    • A YA post is coming your way–fantasy? Dystopia? Realistic fiction? What’s your fancy? We’ll hit on all of it but let us know if you or your kids have a strong preference. Thx so much for reading!


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(How to Make) Tin-Can Stilts

@ the Dolphin Bookshop

tin-can stilts

(on writing + other distractions)

educating alice

monica edinger, teacher and reader of children's literature


Read it and Eat

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