Top ten "older" books I don’t want people to forget about

 


10. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
 
 
I read all the time as a kid, but I don’t remember many specific titles.  I do this one, though.  I came in the living room, weeping a bit, and said, “Don’t mind me, I just finished the best book.”  My siblings just rolled their eyes – I was the youngest and was always weeping – or crying, or bawling – a little bit!  Still, I should push this a bit more in readers’ advisory.


9.  The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden
 
 

I read this when I was trying to read all the books on the National Endowment of the Humanities Summertime Favorites book list.  The thing is, they have a new list – with some fun new books like Ivy + Bean, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, etc.  But to take out one like this?  I’m going to go through the lists later today and see what else they took out.  So disappointing!
 
With that said, I am struggling on where to put this book.  The copy we have is a large one, more like a picture book, but it’s obviously not a picture book.  But put it in fiction, and who will read it?  Perhaps my juvenile fiction for early chapter book readers.  (Go to this link to see what the earlier – about 2001? list looked like.)

8. Holes by Louis Sachar

 

 
A few years ago, I asked my kids to suggest the one book they would have me read, above all others.  My oldest daughter suggested this one, which she had read when it first came out several years before.  After reading it, I said, “Why didn’t you tell me to read this years ago???”  It really is a great book.  I try to book talk it to students and succeed about half the time – the other half, kids say, “Well, I already saw the movie.”  For some books that wouldn’t make a difference, but this one, it probably would.
 

7. The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald
 
 

I talked about this book in last week’s list (Top Ten eight series I haven’t finished).  This and Summer of My German Soldier are the only books I remember reading as a kid – and yes, I was always reading!  (I do remember a lot of Jackie Collins as a teenager . . . that’s so sad, I know!)  I’m in the midst of doing my fall book order at the elementary; I need to order this as it’s not in my collection.  How can I really mean that I don’t want people to forget this book if it isn’t even in my library?
 

6. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

 

 
This is the book my oldest son said that I needed to read, and boy, am I glad I did!  I’m not a sci-fi aficionado by any means, but this is a great book.  It’s one of the few that I remember audibly gasping at a scene (the other is Sandra Dallas’ The Persian Pickle Club).  I’ll have to check if this is in both elementary and secondary libraries.
 

5. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
 
 
This is another that has gone off of the NEH list.  Boo!  I read this as a teen, and though I certainly didn’t understand the symbolism (I guess it’s about British economic policy of the 18th century), I was glad I read it.  It’s one of those things where the characters and plot are in our cultural conscious (like The Odyssey or Alice in Wonderland), so if you read a Newsweek article there will be some mention of Gulliver and it certainly helps to have read it. 
 
4. 1984 by George Orwell
 
 
I read this as a teen also, in fact, in 1984.  (So obviously, it did not have that cover, but I think that’s awfully fun.)  The NEH has taken 1984 off its classic book list, too.  How is this possible?  Oh like we have no fear of government surveillance or censorship, right?  Please.  (The previous school librarian had kept lots of clippings of important events.  Some aren’t so important anymore as others – sniff, sniff, I guess I see the point of culling the list, NEH – but I definitely kept the ones FROM 1984 ABOUT 1984.)
 
3. Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski

 

 
I read this from the NEH list – thankfully, it still makes the cut.  What amazes me about this book is that the setting is really not that long ago in American history – about 1900.  By then, most small towns in Iowa were formed, and we were certainly on the way to progress.  But in Florida, it was still very much a backwoods sort of place.  It’s amazing how fast the state progressed in the 20th century!  I love the colloquialisms in this book, too. 
 

2.  The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
 
 
 
I love Ben Franklin!  I think of all the folks in history, if he were to time travel to our age, he would totally get it.  Air travel, antibiotics, the internet, 3-D printing, all of it.  He is a genius.  (And the NEH?  Ben isn’t on the list?  You’re dead to me.)
 
When I was a nontrad student a decade ago, I had to write a paper comparing two of the works that we had read in American Lit.  I chose this one and The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.  I said that they both had served time in servitude, both were American heroes that many still looked up to, and that both were quotable.  My favorite one for Franklin? 
 

And when you are criticized, as you will be, remind your critics that you have the right to speak your mind. And if they shout you down, as they probably will, then inform them that since they insist on being asses, you will henceforth communicate with them with the appropriate part of your own anatomy. And turning to face them from the posterior, let them know where you stand. Let every fart sound as a peal of thunder for liberty. Let every fart remind the nation of how much it has let pass out of its control.

 

It is a small gesture, but one that can be very effective—especially in a large crowd. So fart, and if you must, fart often. But always fart without apology.

 

Fart for freedom, fart for liberty—and fart proudly.

I obviously got an A.
 
1.  Millions of Cats by Wanda Gág
 
 
Want a classic book that is still on the NEH list?  Check.
Want a book that changed children’s book illustration forever, by pioneering the double-page spread?  Check.
Want a rhyming, cute picture book, that features cat genocide?  Check, check, and check.
 
For the record – if you want to get blogging done in a hurry and not fiddle-fart around with it all day – do it when you don’t have access to your charger!  You will get it done in no time.

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