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Jen Robinson reviews and blogs about books for children. She has a passion for children's books and promoting reading. Read more »
I've been in love with books for as long as I can remember. When I was a child, I used to read in all sorts of places -- in a tree in the backyard, up on the roof, on a dock in the lake, and even while I was swimming (holding the book up in the air!). I always read in the car, no matter how short the trip. Waiting in a doctor's office wasn't so tedious for me - it was just another opportunity to read. I loved libraries and bookstores, anywhere that I could find books. I volunteered in my elementary school library, shelving books before school. I read my way through the Children's Room of my hometown library, shelf-by-shelf. I used to ride my bike there, even in the rain.
My favorite authors were Elizabeth Enright, Zilpha Keatley Snyder, and E. L. Konigsburg, among many, many others. Books were my friends, my companions. They opened up new worlds for me, and introduced me to characters who were larger than life. I'll never forget Pippi Longstocking, Anne of Green Gables, Laura Ingalls, Jo March, the Famous Five, or the Boxcar Children. I cried with Sara Crewe (A Little Princess), solved mysteries with Trixie Belden, and shared Lucy Pevensie's wonder (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe). As I grew a bit older, John Christopher, Alexander Key, Ben Bova, and Lois Lowry all expanded my horizons through science fiction tales.
Books have repaid my affection time and time again. I've always had a strong vocabulary and tested well. I'm convinced that all of my reading helped me to do well on the SATs and get into my dream college. Being a fast reader certainly made college and graduate school easier. And the stories are still with me.
I still love reading children's and young adult books. During college and graduate school I would read children's books for a study break. When I went home during the holidays, I would revisit old favorites from my bookshelves. I would hear about new children's books, too, and be unable to resist making their acquaintance. I was an early convert to the Harry Potter books and Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series. I also kept reading books by Lois Duncan and Zilpha Keatley Snyder, whenever I found a new one in the stores.
When my friends started having children, I naturally bought books for those children, and read with them whenever I could. Somewhere along the way, I realized that helping children grow up loving books was the way that I wanted to make a positive difference in the world. That's why I started my blog.
Kids who love to read have so many advantages -- they have higher reading and math scores, they're able to entertain and console themselves, and they learn about new worlds. For children who have difficult home lives, books can be a lifeline. In addition to all of that, the driving factor for me is that I personally gained so much from reading children's books that I want to share that gift with children. And that's why I'm here at PBS Parents this month.
What are some of your family's favorite children's books?