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Favorite Children's Books of Famous Authors

By Connie Diamond. Nov 1, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books

E.L. Konigsburg once said that children’s books are “the key to the accumulated wisdom, wit, truth, myth, history, philosophy, and recipes for salting potatoes during the past 6,000 years of civilization.” In those earliest days of civilization stories were told around small fires and were illustrated on cave walls. But I imagine, even then, they dispelled shadows and illuminated ideas—the best stories always do. Authors who write children’s books contribute to this canon, but also draw upon it. Let’s take a look at the favorite children’s books of these famous authors.

Lois Lowry

Pinkney_Lion_Mouse_Inventory.jpgLois Lowry, author of numerous books including The Giver, remembers her mother reading The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings to her as a child. She was struck not only by how she herself was moved by the story, but also by how it moved her mother in a similar way. She was not simply the recipient of the story, but was actually sharing the experience with an adult. Lowry's own books seem to transcend a reader's age in the same way.

Jerry Pinkney

Jerry Pinkney grew up on Aesop’s Fables and Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales. It is no surprise that he packaged some of these stories for a new generation when he became an author. In fact, he won the Caldecott Medal in 2010 for The Lion and the Mouse, which is described as "a wordless retelling of an Aesop fable".

R.J. Palacio (Raquel Jaramillo)

The author of Wonder cut her literary teeth on D’aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths. Mythology introduced her to a new world and spurred her imagination. In turn, she's done the same for countless readersgiving us an avenue to see things in new and important ways.

Shaun Tan

George_orwell_PD.jpgShaun Tan, who released his well-known book The Arrival in 2006, found a copy of Animal Farm by George Orwell at his home when he was eight years old. Mistaking it for a children's book, his family read it aloud together. He didn’t understand the complexity of the allegory until a much later date, but he understood it in terms of the hierarchy of the playground. He understood that some were “more equal than others.”

Jeff Kinney

Jeff Kinney remembers connecting with the book Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing by Judy Blume. He, himself, would go on to connect with scores of young readers in his series Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

If you, like those early storytellers, are inspired to dispel shadows and illuminate ideas, read what these great authors wrote, read what they read, and then read them to someone else. It is in this way that the torch lit from that prehistoric fire is handed down to a new generation.  

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Connie Diamond
I was a passionate student of literature, and later became a passionate teacher of it. When I left the classroom, I took my love of the subject with me. I have a library in my home in lieu of a dining room, and my favorite social activity is meeting with my book club to discuss impressions and ideas from our latest book choice. I never tire of the beauty of great writing, and am often guilty of reading it aloud to innocent bystanders.


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