Thursday, February 21, 2008

Good Books

Elizabeth, who just turned 7, has become a voracious reader almost overnight. Billy and I have been collecting children's books from used book stores and library book sales for many years, and I'm delighted that Elizabeth is now enjoying them--actually before I expected her to. Some of my favorite children's books are from the 50's and early 60's--an optimistic era when children's books were more or less free of drama, perversion, and subjects too heavy for little ones.

She read Chief Takes Over last week. The copyright is 1956, and it's illustrated by Charles Geer, one of my favorite illustrators from that time.

In most of these books, children have two parents (unless they are orphans or a parent is widowed), whom they respect and obey, and hard work, industry, and resourcefulness are valued. All against the backdrop of a relatively safe and innocent time.

I really love Johnny and the Tool Chest. It's about a boy who dreams of buying an iPod tool chest full of wonderful things with which to create.

Here's one of my favorite bits:

"'s what I'll do," Mr. Thornton [Johnny's father] said. "If you save up half the price of the tool chest, I'll put up the other half."

Johnny's stomach was a lump of ice.

"But that would take a long time," he wailed. "I'd have to get practically twenty dollars."

"I think an industrious boy could earn that much in a reasonable amount of time," his father said. "That is, if it was important to him."

And another...

"--but there is only one sure way to get money," Mr. Thornton was saying. "And that is to work for it. You know, very few people ever strike oil or find buried treasure."

I love the way they call Johnny's father "Mr. Thornton" as though though that is what all adults are called. And I love the way Mr. Thornton is instilling in his son the values of hard work and saving.

By the way, Johnny and the Tool Chest is copyrighted 1964.

No comments: