Or haven't heard of at all...
I grew up in a house full of books. Now that I'm the mom, we have a house full of books too. My dad is a writer and a librarian, so I was taught to never buy a paperback book (unless that's all that was printed), keep the dust jackets pristine (still working on that one), and to treat books with the utmost care and respect.
I try NEVER to buy a paperback. If the bookstore or Amazon doesn't have a hard cover book in stock, I check Abe Books or Alibris for used copies in good condition. I feel like hard cover books exude more of a permanence in our home; whereas a flimsy paperback, soon and easily becomes dogeared and needs to be thrown out. I wasn't taught that books are disposable and I don't want my children to think that, either.
My dad is big on preserving dust jackets. This isn't so easy with small children. At first I would remove them when I bought a new book and lay them flat at the top of my son's closet. I still have a few, but over time, they were pulled down by little climbers, or torn mysteriously. My dad covers all his dust jackets with clear Mylar covers just like at the library. They're practically indestructible and stay on pretty well. I buy my Mylar covers from Benchmark Books in Salt Lake City. There are a few different sizes, so before you go, you may want to measure the height of the books you want to cover.
I'm also a bit uppity about the types of books we buy. We do NOT buy books about any TV cartoon character. Exception one is The Monster at the End of this Book. Who doesn't love that?
Read on for exception two.
We read aloud a lot at our house. I'm not a huge fan of picture books. We have some. A few really good ones, but I'm a huge believer that even little kids can appreciate a good chapter book. I think that so many people think that if a child can't read a book by himself, that he wouldn't be able to understand a larger book. NOT SO. Most children are able to understand what they experience every day. If the only books they read are Go Diego Go simple readers or Dr. Seuss (love him, but still...), then, of course, they'll be confused by more complicated stories.
When my oldest son was two years old we bought this book at Media Play:
Let me just clarify that this book was written long before the TV shows and movies and is not in the least similar to those junky Thomas paperbacks at Walmart. Sean was a huge Thomas fan from the time he could walk, so when I saw this book and how sweetly it was written, I had to have it. I couldn't post a picture of our book because it has been so well loved that it doesn't even have a cover anymore. He would lay the book on the floor and lean on it to look at the pictures and recite the stories to himself. This might make my list 26 books, but I have to recommend it.
Here is my list of oft neglected children's books. I grouped them by age/grade. I hope you discover a new favorite.
1. Cowboy Bunnies by Christine Loomis is so sweet. It's sadly out of print, but if you're able to find it you won't be disappointed. The poetry is darling and I love how the cowboy bunnies end their day.
2. I am a Bunny by Richard Scarry. I guess I have a thing for bunnies. His name is Nicholas and he lives in a hollow tree. Completely adorable.
3. Chicken Soup with Rice by Maurice Sendak. This tiny book came in a set with three others. My children love the diminutive size. A really tiny book.
4. Little Fur Family by Margaret Wise Brown. My favorite Amazon review calls it "a psychedelic freakout of a kids book." Don't let that scare you. It's too cute for words.
5. The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. A cautionary tale for the very young. He gets what's coming to him. More bunnies.
6. Papa Small by Lois Lenski. Nuclear family. Gender specific roles. I like it. You may not and that's okay.
7. Mister Dog by Margaret Wise Brown. Margaret Wise Brown and Garth Williams were the "Dynamic Duo" of the children's book universe. Nonsense and fun. I think we're on our third copy of this book.
8. Pelle's New Suit by Elsa Beskow. All about a boy who works for what he wants.
My picture is horrible. Sorry you can't see those titles.
9. Not a Box by Antoinette Portis. Very few words in this story, but it's fun and imaginative.
10. The Wonderful House by Margaret Wise Brown. More quirky stuff. Who lives in the house? A dog biscuit? NO.
11. Oh What a Busy Day by Gyo Fujikawa. I still have my own copy of this book from 1982. It's worn to shreds so I'm SO happy that they've reissued it. Poetry, simple rhymes and stories.
12. Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown. Little bear girl in tutu adopts human boy. Hilarity ensues.
13. "B" is for Betsy by Carolyn Haywood. All Carolyn Haywood's books are fabulous introductions to chapter reading. Simpler stories. Short chapters. They deal with such "heavy issues" as starting school for the fist time, making friends, and acceptance, with Dick and Jane wholesomeness.
14. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle has amazing cures for selfishness (our favorite), laziness, back-talk and such. I wish she lived near me.
15. Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovlace. A series heartily recommended by Kathleen Kelly in "You've Got Mail." They're completely charming. All of them.
16. The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. A Classic right down to the silhouette illustrations. They live in a boxcar and fish for treasures at the dump. Dreamy.
17. Lisa and Lottie by Erich Kastner. You probably have already heard this story and don't know it. Twins separated at birth try to rekindle the romance between their divorced parents... The precursor to The Parent Trap. I bought this at a used bookstore for $3. It's not currently in print.
18. Heidi by Johanna Spyri. Heidi is an orphan sent to live with her grisly grandfather. All my boys loved this book. It's worth it to hold out until you find an unabridged version. Ditto on the simplified children's classics books (I hate those with a passion) they offer the facts, but suck all the joy out of the story. You can get the REAL DEAL for free on iBooks or Amazon Kindle.
19. Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne. Don't assume your grade school age child is too old for Winnie the Pooh. The stories are hilarious. I've been known to skip over the parts that are speaking to Christopher Robin to get to the meat of the story.
20. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren. I'm partial to the edition illustrated by Lauren Child (Charlie and Lola). My boys laughed themselves silly over this book.
21. Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beatty. I have a child with just such an artistic temperament. He identifies with this book. Iggy Peck saves the day!
22. Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. I guess, in addition to my love for bunny books, I have a thing for books with a heroine named Betsy. A babied city girl is sent to live with her extended family in the country where she has to learn to toughen up a little bit.
23. Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I have to admit that I completely skipped this book when I read the Little House books growing up. What girl wants to read a book about a boy? I was so wrong. A simpler time. I like the part where they make taffy and feed it to the pig.
24. The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit. This is one of my ALL TIME favorite books. Not just kids books. Four children and their mother have to pretend at being poor for a while, while their father is mysteriously absent. I cried at the end. Also free on iBooks and Kindle. It's a STEAL if you ask me.
25. Hitty, Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field. Another one of my favorites. A hand carved wooden doll and the adventures she has. Reproduction Hitty dolls sell for hundreds of dollars.
I'm curious to know. What would you add to the list?