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 tincanstilts.com. 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).
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?
*(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.)