Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Favorite Books or Best Books?

I thought I was the only person who disliked The Giving Tree, but it turns out there are others who had the same response to the book that I did!

Grammarly's post on April 1 titled "The 5 Best Children's Books of All Time." The list includes Charlotte's Web, The Giving Tree, Oh, The Places You'll Go, The Giver, and Where the Wild Things Are.  I disagreed with several of the books on the list. But, lists of favorites or bests are very subjective. Lists like this are a starting place for discussion.

I hated The Giving Tree the first time I read it and have not changed my opinion. I know dozens of people who love it and find it inspiring, but I see it as the boy talking everything, including, finally, the tree's life. The boy gives nothing. I have kept my opinion mostly to myself, until now. Several readers made similar comments, saying, for example, it "should be renamed The Taking Tree."

I love Dr. Seuss, but Oh, the Places You'll Go is not one of my favorites. I love Horton Hears a Who, The Sneetches, and especially Green Eggs and Ham. I haven't read The Giver and though I like Charlotte's Web and Where the Wild Things Are, they don't touch me the way other books have.

So what would I put on the 5 Best Children's Books of All Time list? The Wind in the Willows is perhaps my absolute favorite children's book. I didn't read it until I was an adult, but the story of the friendship and gentle adventures combined with the luminous language is the best, in my opinion. I also loved Kidnapped and The Jungle Book, for the adventurous stories. A Wrinkle in Time and the Narnia books are also up there on my list.

I was so fortunate to have an uncle who loved books and gave me a book every year for my birthday. Because of him I read some more offbeat novels that I wouldn't have found without him. He gave me The Return of the Twelves by Pauline Clarke, which led me to the Brontes and more wonderful novels. He also gave me The Outsiders when it first came out, and an oddball novel by Jules Verne that is printed sideways on the page. I owe him at least for some of my love of reading.


  1. Oh my, I certainly agree with your opinion of The Giving Tree. Sadly, many wonderful people give until it hurts and wind up taken advantage of in life. Seems to me, this book promotes that message. Little Women remains one of my favorite children's books. Growing up with two sisters, I could just relate to this.

  2. Wrinkle in Time will forever be my favorite children's book of all time. I've had the pleasure of revisiting many of my old favorites with my own children now... so many that I love. :)

  3. I loved Wrinkle in Time, too. Another favorite is Where the Lilies Bloom by Bill and Vera Cleaver. Also A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (maybe more US than children's...coming of age story)

  4. That was supposed to say YA ... auto correct changed it to US!! Weird!

  5. As a kid I always felt bad for the Giving Tree. She gave and gave because she loved the little boy, and he totally took advantage. Not my fave.

    One of my favorite Dr. Seuss books is 'My Many Colored Days', and 'A Wrinkle in Time' was the first book I read twice.

    Great Post.

  6. One of my favorites is Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss. Where the Wild Things Are never touched me, or my kids.