C. S. Lewis once said, “No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally worth reading at the age of fifty.” In other words, if a grown adult can’t stomach a children’s book, why should a child be expected to? I think I agree with his words.
Charlotte Mason was a pioneer in children’s education during the 19th century, and her ideas have led to one of the primary methods of homeschooling. She also coined the term “twaddle.”
Twaddle: Dumbed-down literature; absence of meaning.
Homeschooling or not, I believe children (and adults, really) should invest their time in living books, and not waste time on twaddle. And quite frankly, there’s a lot of twaddle out there in the world of children’s literature.
My children are very young, so I’m up to my elbows in early childhood literature. Here are my top 10 favorite preschool-age books, in random order, and all twaddle-free.
by Ludwig Bemelmans
All the Madeline books have a great cadence of words, and the illustrations are delightful. What little girl doesn't want to live in an old house in Paris that is covered in vines?
by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Lillian Hoban
Frances is a lovable badger with a wild imagination, silly songs, and a bag full of tricks. In "Best Friends...", she learns that a sibling can be a friend, too.
by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson
I loved this story as a kid, and my daughter loves it now. Ferdinand is a laid-back, gentle bull who's been recruited for a Spanish bullfight.
by Arnold Lobel
I adore this pair of amphibians. You'll laugh along with your children at Frog and Toad's sense of logic, and you'll love their close-knit friendship.
by James Marshall
A hilarious duo of hippos who have more personality than common sense. Adults get a kick out of them, too.
by A.A. Milne, illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard
This is the classic, non-Disney version. No child should miss the delightful tales of Winnie-the-Pooh and all his friends. The language is beautiful, the illustrations, sweet.
by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond
My mother-in-law gave this treasury to our daughter for Christmas, and we've read it almost daily since. The stories are brilliant, the illustrations are hilarious, and I can honestly say I don't tire from reading these stories.
by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Ray Cruz
Both you and your kids will identify with Alexander, who's having a day when nothing goes right. Good for kids who get frustrated when things don't go their way.
by Bernard Waber
A pet crocodile comes to stay with the Primm family. A fun story about friendship and loyalty.
Recommending books so good, they'll keep you up past your bedtime. more...
About Tsh Oxenreider
Tsh Oxenreider is a writer, a graphic designer, a wife and mama, and a home manager extraordinaire. Her far-off fantasy is to take a cooking class from Ina Garten and build an eco-home from scratch with her hubby. In the meantime, she'll settle for making some killer brownies and doing her best to frugally decorate her high-rise urban apartment. You can find Tsh writing about life hacks for home managers on her blog, Simple Mom.
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