‘The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it’ ~ James Bryce.
Today I found a few books that transported me back to my childhood. Being an avid reader now and a fledgling bookworm then, books have always played a big role in my life. I never struggled with reading and quickly devoured the fiction titles in the children’s library, sounding out the big words and being stuck in my own imaginary world. Enjoying the great big outdoors, playing games and sports with my friends ranked level to the joy of sitting up late and reading. They were each an escape in their own way. I thought I’d share some of my favorite books from when I was very, very young. Time might have passed but I remember how much they delighted my vivid imagination.
‘In the light of the Moon, a little egg lay on a leaf’
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, a little modern classic. Following the adventures of a caterpillar, I loved the unique and visually exciting book design with little holes cut in the pages as the caterpillar munched his way through everything he could find to become a chrysalis and ultimately a beautiful and boldly colored butterfly. A fun way for a toddler to improve their food vocabulary and become acquainted with numbers and days of the week. Maybe caterpillars don’t eat salami, swiss cheese and cherry pie but the metamorphosis was something to wonder at.
Hooray for happy children’s books with fun escapades and predictable endings!
Charlotte’s web highlighted the importance of friendship, compassion, gratitude for being alive, accepting death and seeing the miracles in little things. On the surface it’s a book about Charlotte the spider who befriends a pig, Wilbur, she is determined to save Wilbur from a cruel fate (Slaughter. Sad panda face.) by spinning words in a web to convince the farmer that Wilbur is an exceptional and special pig. But it is so much deeper than that.
There are many messages in this book that I carry with me to this day and it is perhaps my favourite young children’s book. As a child the best part was when Charlotte spins the word ‘Radiant’ in the web and Wilbur really tries to glow with radiance and cartwheels around the barn. Now my favourite bits lie more in the dialogue between Charlotte and Wilbur.
“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that”.
And this is simply amazing:
Wilbur blushed. “But I’m not terrific, Charlotte. I’m just about average for a pig.”
“You’re terrific as far as I’m concerned,” said Charlotte, sweetly, “and that’s what counts. You’re my best friend, and I think you’re sensational.”
This deserves a re-read (along with the Narnia series, Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, The Secret Garden, Five Children and It and many others).