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Five Old and New Classic Books Every Child Should Read

By Sheila Welch

Criss crossWhile raising our seven children, we read many library books, but here are five –some old, some almost new — that I own. Four have won major awards.

The girl who drank the moon

The winner of this year’s prestigious Newbery Award, THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON, is written by Kelly Barnhill. In a fantasy world with paper birds that come alive and a perfectly tiny dragon, each year, the youngest baby must be left in the forest to keep the wicked witch at bay. But wait! How do the people know a witch exists if they never see her? Fourth through eighth graders who’re fans of magic will be attracted by this book’s interesting premise and variety of characters, including Luna -- who was one of those abandoned babies.

Criss cross

CRISS CROSS, written and illustrated by Lynne Rae Perkins, won the Newbery Award in 2006, and it was a controversial choice. Since it’s on my bookshelf, you can guess that I love this book! It concerns a small group of kids around 14 years old and their summer, during which not a whole lot happens. The humor is subtle and the writing is quiet. If you’re searching for a book for an introspective reader between ten and fourteen, this might be just the one to suggest.

Moja means one: Swahili counting book

MOJA MEANS ONE: SWAHILI COUNTING BOOK by Muriel Feelings, illustrated by Tom Feelings was chosen as a Caldecott Honor Book in 1972. The artwork, done in pencil, probably on a cream-colored paper to give a slight sepia tone, is striking, powerful, and realistic. Looking through this book carefully with children in K-3rd grades, adults can introduce a seldom seen art style that children will appreciate.

Two books about Winnie-the-Pooh

FINDING WINNIE, THE TRUE STORY OF THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS BEAR, written by Lindsay Mattick, won the Caldecott Award in 2016 for its illustrations by Sophie Blackall. In a surprising coincidence, another nonfiction tale was published the same year, WINNIE, THE TRUE STORY OF THE BEAR WHO INSPIRED
by Sally Walker, illustrated by Jonathan Voss. Both picture books feature the sweet and extremely tame bear who was bought by a veterinarian, Harry Colebourn, who eventually gave her to the London Zoo because he had joined the army.

In the prize-winner, the author uses a technique similar to that found in A. A. Milne’s original tales. A child requests a story, and in this case, his parent tells him about the live bear and then the famous toy bear. The author of FINDING WINNIE is the great granddaughter of Harry Colebourn. Both books are wonderful read-a-louds for K—2nd grade fans of Winnie-the-Pooh, while 3rd through 5th graders will be fascinated as they compare the texts and illustrations in the two books.

About Sheila

Sheila Kelly Welch is a mother, grandmother and retired teacher. She counts among her children’s fiction books LITTLE PRINCE KNOW-IT-ALL and A HORSE FOR ALL SEASONS. Sheila's novel, WAITING TO FORGET, has been selected by Bank Street College and Pennsylvania School Library Association for their lists of best-books-of-the-year. Her most recent stories, MESS-UP MOLLY and BIG CAT AND KITTEN, are published on-line by MeeGenius (