Everything Old Is New Again

This blog post was written by Kira Painchaud of the Half Moon Bay Library.

It’s hard to believe another summer has come and gone.

This hasn’t gone unnoticed at my house. I mention this because there are so many older books that my kids and I have read in past summers, both in their childhoods and my own. We have made it through good and bad times with the help of books, and as of late I have found a great source of comfort in reading together at bedtime and bonding as a family. It has been wonderful to watch my kids pick up a book that I’ve shared with them and see them read it themselves. They are so entertaining to watch when they are reading to me.

The words, “everything old is new again” are particularly special to me. This summer, my younger daughter read Charlotte’s Web for the first time, which was my first chapter book as a child. In fact, I became a lifelong reader because of reading this book. My other daughter has just finished reading The Hobbit herself, which I also read as a kid. We both recommend it as a fantastic read. Currently, we are all having fun reading through Matilda together. Even when the books are easy reads for my daughters, we enjoy them all! Here is a list of our past summer reading fun shared by my kids.

Charlotte's Web
This book is about a terrific pig named Wilbur who has very special friendships that are forever memorable.

Because of Winn-Dixie
A beautiful story of a girl and her dog Winn Dixie who were lonely when they met and then help each other as a family.

The Hobbit, Or, There and Back Again
This is the story of Bilbo Baggins, a Hobbit who goes on an unexpected and extraordinary adventure.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
A fun and spooky tale of Ichabod Crane and his scary encounter with the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow.

This is a funny book about an incredibly smart girl named Matilda. She has to deal with villains who are not nice and save Miss Honey, her sweet teacher.

This is a cool and funny book about a girl who becomes friends with a giant who turns out to be friendly.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
This story is about a boy named Charlie who wins a golden ticket that allows him to go see Willy Wonka’s fantastic factory.


Childhood Favorites With Problematic Characters

I would also like to mention two of my childhood favorite books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, albeit with a footnote. In order to facilitate an important dialogue with kids, I spoke with them this week about Wilder’s Little House series. We talked about the historical legacy of her books, how they’ve been read to kids for generations for their open view of the pioneer life. While they touch on these life experiences of what it was like to be a pioneer, however, these books also contain a biased and racist view towards Native Americans. Having this talk with my kids about empathy and racism has helped give them a better-rounded view of the issues between Native Americans and white settler pioneers. Although reading certain portions of these books makes me feel uncomfortable, it is important to pause and discuss these issues with our children, so they can begin to recognize racism and racial biases in other literature they are reading on their own.

Little House in the Big Woods
A fun, descriptive story about growing up in Wisconsin as a pioneer kid.

Little House on the Prairie
A really fun bedtime read about what it was like to grow up in a pioneer family in Kansas.

For different pioneer life perspectives, I also recommend reading these alongside the Little House books:

The Birchbark House
Omakayas, a seven-year-old Native American girl of the Ojibwa tribe, lives through the joys of summer and the perils of winter on an island in Lake Superior in 1847.

Prairie Lotus
Newbery Medalist Linda Sue Park explores prejudice on the American frontier in this sensitively told story about a multiracial girl and her white father in Dakota Territory. 

Encyclopedia of American Indian History & Culture
This is a fun informational book that gives a comprehensive history for North America’s Native people. The book includes biographies of important Native American people, memorable dates and events along with maps of ancestral lands. Cultural tribal facts on daily life are listed in easy to read fact boxes and sidebars. There are photographs and traditional Native stories that also make this book great to read.

Share with us your favorite childhood classic reads in the comments below!