Robin and I have been rereading the Chronicles of Narnia aloud for the last few weeks (a practice I can't recommend highly enough) and it has been so good for us - for our brains and for our spirits, and probably also for our eyeballs since they're not staring at a screen as much. We're on book three of seven and we (grown adults who have already read through the series before and know what happens) have literally cried at least five times. The books are just so full of wonder, and they make you love Jesus more, and they make you feel more brave. We can't wait to read those stories aloud with our kids when they're older. And that got me to thinking about what other books I want to read with them. So here's the list that came out of that :
T H E E S S E N T I A L S
Heidi, by Johanna Spyri - Somehow I made it through childhood without reading Heidi. I think Shirley Temple's rendering ruined it for me. I picked it up a few months ago and have since become an evangelist of Heidi. When someone asks me for a book recommendation I'm like "HEIDI YOU SHOULD READ HEIDI YOU WILL LOVE IT YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW." You just feel goodness and purity and innocence while you read it. It is one of the sweetest stories.
A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle - The characters in this story are all so quirky and endearing. I started to flip through it to refresh my memory before I made this book list, but ended up reading through the whole thing instead. One of my benchmarks for if a story is good or not is if I pick it up and can't put it back down. This is the first in a series and all of them are worth a read :)
Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke - This book, blessedly, came to me at a time when I feel like a lot of kids are deciding if they will be lifelong readers or not. I was in third grade, and my girl Jordan (my source for books at the time) passed it along to me. Everything about it was enchanting. It was thick and heavy with beautiful illustrations and quotes at the beginning of every chapter. The story follows Meg and her father, Mo, who can read characters into and out of stories. I tried to read them out of the story myself a few times, but it didn't appear to work. Funke's The Thief Lord is also a great read.
To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee - Because, 'courage is… when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.' (also, I'm still trying to convince robin that we need two bunnies named Scout and Atticus… your support in this matter is greatly appreciated.)
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg - Two children run away from home and live in a museum. Doesn't that just sound so fun? I also attribute my becoming a paper hoarder to Mrs. Frankweiler.
Sounder, by William H. Armstrong - First I loved Sounder because my mom loved it and gave it to me. Then I loved it so much in its own rite that I had two copies of it, just in case something happened to one of them. I especially can't wait to read this one with Shepherd.
The Island of Blue Dolphins, by Scott O'Dell - This one accompanied me on several beach trips. It's about solitude and survival and a lot of really cool animals, and I now that I think of it I probably ought to just go read it again myself.
The Princess Bride, by William Goldberg - Has there been a movie yet that is better than the book? Even with how amazing the Princess Bride movie is, the book still is best. There's a quote in there about stew and taxes that I try to quote every time I drop off our taxes but I never get it right and it's really just funniest if you read it yourself. It's such a treat.
Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh - This is one of the dearest books to me. I decided I wanted to be a writer after I read it. I tried to be a spy also, but that mostly meant looking out my window over our backyard and there really wasn't much to report there, so instead I just wrote in a composition book and played Town and bought some Converse. I loved Harriet's nanny Ole Golly more than almost any other character in a book. She had a quote for everything and took Harriet seriously even though she was only eleven. I think I've always wanted to be Ole Golly on some level.
In the book, Harriet's favorite treat is an egg cream. This is apparently a quintessentially Brooklyn treat, so my little southern self had no idea what that was. I asked my mom and she said she didn't know, but she knew what egg custard was, and maybe they were the same? It turns out that egg cream is a bit of whole milk frothed with seltzer water and chocolate syrup, which is nothing at all like egg custard pie. But I like to think that Harriet would have liked the pie better anyway.
M A W M A W' S E G G C U S T A R D P I E
this is, hands down, the most comforting pie in the world. it doesn't even make you mess with crust. you just whizz everything together in the blender for a few seconds, pour it in the pie pan, and bake. I think this pie would sound like the dan in real life soundtrack - that is, until you eat the last slice for breakfast, still in your pajamas and bare feet. then it's doris day, honey.
- 3 eggs
- (1) 13 oz can evaporated milk
- 1 c. sugar
- 3 Tbsp flour
- 3 Tbsp melted butter
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350. Blend all ingredients in a blender for 30 seconds, then pour into a 9" pie plate. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Let it cool slightly before serving, and by all means, don't eat it all at once. It really is best cold the next day. I think Maw Maw - and Harriet- would agree.
(after I published this I realized that I forgot a few more: The Cricket In Times Square, Ralph S. Mouse, and the Little House on the Prairie books)
How about you? I'd love to hear what books would make your essentials book list :)