With yet another winter storm pressing down on a large swath of the east coast this week, we thought it would be useful to share Kate DiCamillo’s favorite children’s books. Now these books are perfect any old day, but they’re especially perfect on a day when the weather outside isn’t cooperating, so enjoy. DiCamillo is an award-winning children’s book author and the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.
Originally published Jan. 7, 2014:
For Kate DiCamillo, the author of award-winning children’s novels, “Because of Winn-Dixie” and “Tale of Despereaux,” reading changes people.
DiCamillo was recently named the Library of Congress’ National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, a two-year position dedicated to promoting children’s literature.
DiCamillo was raised reading Scott O’Dell’s “Island of Blue Dolphins” and Louise Fitzhugh’s “Harriet the Spy” which helped her appreciate the joy of storytelling. She read every Beverly Cleary novel to develop her writing skills and quickly embraced the power of children’s books to appeal to adults as well as youths.
“I was about 32 years old … reading about (Cleary’s) Ramona in Kindergarten and I was engaged.”
This cross-generational love of reading is a part of DiCamillo’s goals to “bring more people into the room.” Just as a video game can be entertaining and bring a family together, DiCamillo’s message to parents is to set the example that reading is neither chore nor responsibility, but a privilege. “Read out loud together as a family. Stories are what make us human.”
Because of the recent spate of school closings and sub-zero temperatures across the country, we asked DiCamillo, the new National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, to recommend books perfect for kids stuck inside:
E. B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web” and “Stuart Little,”
“The Borrowers” by Mary Norton
“Wonder” by R.J. Palacio
“Bridge to Terabithia” by Katherine Paterson
- “The Watsons Go to Birmingham — 1963” by Christopher Paul Curtis
For more suggestions, we asked our friends at the Library of Congress’ Young Readers Center to share some new titles. See their lists of award-winning books selected by distinguished and credible literary organizations:
American Library Association Notables and Award Winners/Honor Books
“Creepy Carrots!” by Aaron Reynolds. Illustrated by Peter Brown (Simon & Schuster)
“Extra Yarn” by Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Jon Klassen (HarperCollins/Balzer and Bray)
- “Green” written and illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. (Roaring Brook/Neal Porter)
“Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin” written and illustrated by Robert Byrd (Dial/Penguin)
“Bomb: The Race to Build — and Steal — the World’s Largest Most Dangerous Weapon” by Steve Sheinkin (Roaring Brook/Flash Point)
- “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate. Illustrated by Patricia Castelao (HarperCollins/Harper)
“Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” by Benjamin Saenz (Simon & Schuster/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
“A Game for Swallows: To Die, to Leave, to Return” written and illustrated by Zeina Abirached (Lerne/Graphic Universe)
- “My Family for the War” by Anne C. Voorhoeve. Trans. By Tammi Reichel (Dial/Penguin)
Young Adult Library Services Association — Best of 2013
Young Adult Fiction
“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” by Jesse Andrews (Abrams/Amulet Books)
“The Diviners” by Libba Bray (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
- “Seraphina” by Rachel Hartman (Random House/ Random House Books for Young Readers)
Graphic Novels — Non-fiction
“My Friend Dahmer” by Derf Backderf (Adams)
“Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb” by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm (Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Hill and Wang)
- “Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller” by Joseph Lambert (Disney/Hyperion/Disney Book Group).
Graphic Novels — Fiction
“Ultimate Comics Spider-man V.1.” by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli (Marvel)
“Friends with Boys” by Faith Erin Hicks (Roaring Brook/First Second)
- “A Flight of Angels” by Alisa Kwitney, Rebecca Guay and others (DC/Vertigo)
This post was updated on January 9, 2014. An earlier version of the video and the text said that Kate DiCamillo recommended Rebecca Makkai’s “The Borrower,” not “The Borrowers” by Mary Norton.