Remember These Childhood Books?

1. Berenstain Bears

Jan Berenstain, co-creator of the Berenstain Bears children’s book series, died last Friday of a stroke. Just two days earlier she had been working on two new books with her son, Michael Berenstain, who has been her co-author recently. Her late husband and long-time co-author, Stan Berenstain, died in 2005. I don’t remember their books that much, but I remember growing up with them.

2. Go Dog Go!

I know that Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman (I remembered the book as authored by Dr. Seuss, but a Google search reveals that the book was published by Suess and his wife’s press, Beginner Books) was maybe the very first children’s book that I was completely entranced by. Remember Go Dog Go!?

Eastman died in 1986 at 76 years old. In related queries about Go Dog Go!, I found out Eastman worked at the story departments of both Walt Disney and Warner Bros. Cartoons.

3. Are You My Mother?

I also found out Eastman wrote Are You My Mother?, which may have actually been my very first most favorite children’s book of all time. I can’t remember though, my childhood memories have faded. Remember Are You My Mother?

4. Corduroy

But now that I think about it more, this might have been the first children’s book that I was obsessed with–

Without extensive Googling, I remember Corduroy to be a soft little story about a boy losing a stuffed bear, after which I think becomes animated and makes a great journey through a bunch of fun, colorful places in order to be reunited with his dismayed owner. Corduroy was written by Don Freeman, who spent most of his career in New York City, working as an artist. He also wrote A Pocket For Corduroy, which you probably remember.

UPDATE: Should have Googled, I got the plot completely wrong. Corduroy details an adventure of an animated stuffed bear trying to locate a lost button. He never finds it, but the little girl who wants him doesn’t care and spends her savings on him anyways.

5. Miss Nelson Is Missing!, Where The Sidewalk Ends, Green Eggs and Ham, and Madeline

If I think harder about books with which have some serious early-childhood associations, I also remember these:

Are you having a nostalgia meltdown yet? Miss Nelson Is Missing!
I completely forgot about that book! Now that I’m remembering it, the story — written by Harry Allard and James Marshall — is about a teacher with kids so unruly that she tells them she won’t be in for a week. She comes in the next day in disguise, posing as their substitute, pretty much dressed as a witch named Miss Viola Swamp. She sends the kids into a frenzy of longing for Miss Nelson, who is much nicer than her cranky and scary alter-ego.

6. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

This write-up wouldn’t be complete without mentioning this one:

I don’t think it’s a stretch to speculate that The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle must be one of the most influential children’s books of the last 40 years. Since 1967, Carle’s published at least a book a year, for the most part. He opened a children’s book museum at Amherst in 2002 and divides his time between the Florida Keys and North Carolina. He’s 82 now.

7. Goosebumps

When I got just a little older (2nd to 5th grade?), I remember being thrilled by Pizza Hut’s “Book It!” club. I remember cherishing the color-shifting button (my precious) they gave you for participation and being super excited every time my teacher passed around the little book catalogs from which we would get our parents to order the books we wanted. I could never figure out the schedule by which we’d receive new catalogs but I think it was once a month. Pizza Hut would give you a free personal-pan pizza if you met the reading goals set by your teacher. I remember that the Book It! club introduced me to a series that everyone knows–

I was completely obsessed with R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series.

8. Fear Street

I was later equally into Stine’s Fear Street franchise, which if I remember correctly, had high-school make-out sexy stuff and provocative covers. As far as I know, Stine’s still in the game — TC contributor Gaby Dunn recently interviewed him live and for her 100interviews project.

9. Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark

Let us also not forget the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
series, a gruesomely-illustrated story compilation for Big Kids that I’m honestly surprised they let us consume–

Illustrated by Stephen Gammell, the stories are American folklore and urban legends adapted by author Alvin Schwartz.

10. Judy Blume, Roald Dahl, and The Babysitter’s Club

My elementary school book club also introduced me to the books of Judy Blume (here’s a piece about how a TC contributor had a brief Twitter spat with her), Roald Dahl, and… the Baby-sitters Club series? I’m unsure why I was reading Baby-sitters Club.

My childhood-book innocence started to erode during the 4th grade and was pretty much broken and irreparable by the 6th. It started with Jurassic Park by Michael Chrichton — I begged my dad to let me read it. He resisted for awhile under the grounds that it wasn’t appropriate material for a 4th grader, but eventually relented. From there it was a slippery slope to all sorts of genre fiction for adults, but it mostly centered around Stephen King. I did a book report on Thinner in 5th grade. I think I read something like 80% of his (then) oeuvre by 6th or 7th grade. By high school, my genre-fiction/ non-literary obsession, was pretty much dismantled by high school English classes and puberty. Then there was J.D. Salinger. TC mark

image – Go, Dog. Go!

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  • jess

    Yes!

  • Jake

    Yes, I remember these books…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6IFPDSFKEQJE2ZPP3ASE35MRL4 Laura

    What an awesome article.

  • Ifyousawthis

    You might need to reread Corduroy. That’s not the plot of the book at all. Take this from someone who just reread it and nearly broke down crying in middle of Barnes &  Noble.

  • Anonymous

    RL Stine is the best dude!

  • cayenne

    Dr. Wormbog and the search for the Zimpa-Rumpa-Zoo. Still my favorite book of all time.

  • http://ruthtam.com Ruth Tam

    Oh my fuck, I was the queen of the Pizza Hut “Book It” program. And those monthly book catalogues? Like tabloids for the nerdy kids. I could’ve wallpapered my room with them.

    • Anonymous

      love Book It. queen of Book It needs to be on your resume if it’s not already

  • Anonymous

    SCHOLASTIC BOOK FAIRS. my heart. my soul.

    please excuse me while i ride #themagicschoolbus(ofnostalgia).

  • mark

    pizza hut book it program was the bee’s knees.

  • http://philolzophy.tumblr.com/ phiLOLZophy

    I love this. I had raptor nightmares after reading Jurassic Park and then I got in a fight with my mom about whether I could read The Lost World ;)

  • Sophia

    Ohhhh all of these. I was such a bookworm in elementary school… I miss those days. Also, Good Night Moon was my favorite of all.

  • http://profiles.google.com/pitt.elizabeth Elizabeth Pitt

    I think we had the same childhood, as I’ve read all those children’s books. I’m teaching English abroad and just got a big book of P.D. Eastman books (I thought Go Dogs Go was Dr. Seuss too), and I think I enjoy them more than the kids.

  • Throwback

    Did anyone read Biff & Chip??

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=506498512 Leah Cox

      and The Magic Key!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=506498512 Leah Cox

     Did anyone read “The Flat Man” and “The Ankle Grabber”?
    Big favourites with everyone when I was in primary school.
    Scary as hell.

  • http://twitter.com/KarolineZ Karoline Zacharer

    Madeline! Aka, my childhood obsession.  Fact: when Christopher Plummer won the Oscar this weekend, I was mainly excited because he did all the narration to the Madeline cartoon series.  Yeah…

    Also…Caps For Sale, Make Way For Ducklings, Kipper, Moo Baa La La La, and The BFG!

  • Jibby

    i don’t know if i’ve ever connected so hard to something in my life

  • Burgy

    i was fascinated/repulsed by scary stories to tell in the dark. it was like a forbidden fruit

  • whatisthe

    oh my god are you my mother. are youuuu my mother?
    and for everything else, except judy bloom, I never read judy bloom, a resounding !!!!!!
    …henry and mudge. anyone?

  • http://twitter.com/SarahArg Sarah Argue

    BoxCar Children! Those were my favorite :)

  • Bread

    i dunno if “here are some pictures of extremely popular children’s books” counts as a premise for an article

  • Anonymous

    thanks BSG for reminding me of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark  #gonnahavenightmares

  • la

    ugh. this article just set me back $75 because i got way too excited/sentimental and bought way too many children’s books on amazon.

  • http://www.twitter.com/mexifrida Frida

    #9 and 10, the most for me.
    I am not embarrassed to admit I am still scared by some of the Scary Stories To tell in The Dark stuff.
    The mirror one.. I cannot look in a mirror in the dark to this day. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/black.moon.ghost.girl Moon Temple

    omfg i read all of these

  • KMac

    Shel Silverstein just put out another book of poems and I may have bought it for my 25 year old self for Christmas… always loved his stuff, especially The Giving Tree.

    Also, what about The Velveteen Rabbit or Nancy Drew?

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