The Kid in All of Us

TootleI just attended a baby shower and, being a writer, I came up with books as gifts. So they’re in my head right now. I gave her the mother-to-be four favorite books that I read to my daughters when they were little.


I think Tootle is THE book for a young mom to read to her children. It’s a Little Golden Book. The moral of the story is: There are nothing but red flags for little trains who get off the tracks. 

Now it might take a bit of considering because that moral is pretty well buried in the silliness of little Tootle frolicking in a field of wildflowers when he’s supposed to be practicing being a locomotive. But this is a deep truth. There truly are nothing but red flags for little trains who get off the tracks. 

I have a day job working with people who are off the tracks in a major way. And there are NOTHING but red flags in these people’s lives. Read your babies and grandbabies Tootle and make sure they get the point. 

The Big Orange Splot

The Big Orange SplotTo go with Tootle I loved The Big Orange Splot by D. Manus Pinkwater. Some people mistake Tootle as a call to live a life of conformity. But there is a difference between following your dreams and being off the tracks. The Big Orange Splot is all about loving what is special about you. Plus, it’s a book long poem and it’s a joy to read. 

My house is me

And I am it

And it looks like all my dreams. 

A Child’s Garden of Verses

Next is ‘A Child’s Garden of Verses’ by Robert Louis Stevenson. This is the classic best book for children in my humble opinion. 

The Swing

 How do you like to go up in a swing?

Up in the air so blue?

Oh, I do think it’s the pleasantest thing,

Ever a child can do. 

A Child’s Garden of VersesThere are a whole collect of these beautiful, child centered classic poems. I used to recite that poem while I’d push my daughters on the swing and they learned to say it along with me. 

I think this one is hilarious, so how far have we come from this?

The Whole Duty of Children

A child should always say what’s true

And speak when he is spoken to

And behave mannerly at table

At least as far as he is able.

Maude and Claude Go AbroadMaude and Claude Go Abroad

The final one is “Maude and Claude Go Abroad” by Susan Meddaugh. This again is a book length poem. Susan Meddaugh is simply a genius. The way she twists the word to create her poem full of humor and whimsy is just a delight.

My favorite of many lines:

And then we laid eyes on

Land on the horizon. 

I just love that the woman rhymed ‘eyes on’ with ‘horizon’. That’s just creative and funny and the book is full of smart, sharp language like this.

So what’s your favorite book from childhood? Yours and/or your childrens’? Do you read books to children? Do you read for fun, to teach, to quiet the little monsters down so they’ll go to sleep?Let’s talk about books that bring out the kid in us. 

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Author of Romantic Comedy...with Cowboys including the bestselling Kincaid Brides Series

49 thoughts on “The Kid in All of Us”

  1. Hello Mary and good morning Fillies! Sorry I haven’t been around much the past few days(have had my nose stuck in my current WIP.)

    Now, for children’s books. I have a list as long as my leg that I grew up on as well as newer ones have read to my children repeatedly.

    The Pokey Little Puppy, The Velveteen Rabbit, There’s a Monster At the End of This Book, There’s Another Monster At the End of This Book, The Whispering Rabbit, Turtle Time, My Dog Never Says Please, The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, Fox in Socks, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish and lots of other Dr. Seuss books, Pajama Time, a bunch of Mercer Mayer books, Click Clack Moo(Cows That Type), Scaredy Kitten, lots of fairytales, folklore, nursery rhymes and Little Golden Books, No No Joan, The Moon In My Room…

    I have one three shelf bookcase that’s overflowing with books I either had or bought or that the grandparents have gotten the kids. I still sometimes read to them before bed, but not always since they’re getting older.

  2. Good morning! I’m a book-saver, and many of the titles Taryn has mentioned are still in the spare bedroom. Now that I have grandbabies, they’re hearing the same stories I read to their mothers. Dr. Seuss was brilliant.

    One of my favorites, though, was Three Little Kittens, and every time I read the book to my daughters, I read the dialogue with exaggerated inflections in my voice. Now, my daughters read the same way to their babies, and it just warms my heart and makes me smile. Obviously, the story and the way they remembered me reading it to them was a fond memory, so much so that they’re repeating it with their own children.

  3. The Velveteen Rabbit–wasn’t that about the best book ever? We just read, and read, and read at our house.
    I’d usually read the entire Little House on the Prairie series to the girls over each winter, a chapter or two every day. Sometimes we’d get on a roll and read for way, way too long.

    Where the Wild Things Are–how about that? Let the wild rumpus begin! 🙂

    We had so many books. My dad was the one who read to us when we were little. He’d do all the voices and keep us out of mom’s hair while she made dinner. Great memories.

  4. I callled one of my sisters to guess what books you had chosen and she very quickly was able to guess, “The Big Orange Splot” and “Tootle.” “The Big Orange Splot” and “A Child’s Garden of Verses” are so evocative of my childhood and probably my favorite children’s books. I don’t about “Tootle…” Although the pictures of the train covered in wildflowers were very cute.

  5. I now own a copy of The Big Orange Splot, Wendy. 🙂 I got one for myself when I got one for the shower.

    I think anyone who read it would just fall in love.

    Wendy phoned me after she posted this…she’s my daughter…and she quoted a chunk of The Big Orange Splot to me.

    Tootle, though, she groaned a little over that one.

    Yeah, yeah, those stupid red flags, I know. Stay in school. 🙂

    Since Wendy is now working on a MBA I guess I can relax on the Stay In School thing. 🙂

  6. Hi Mary,
    Fun post! I think the books we read (or had read to us) stay with us our whole lives. Francis Hodgson Burnett is one of my all time favorite children’s author. Both “A Little Princess” and “The Secret Garden.” They’re such wonderful and vivid stories.

  7. How about The Secret Garden? I loved that book. I remember so well the first time I read it. It totally unfolded for me, so shocking a spooky and so, so beautiful.
    I was always good, but that first time, when I didn’t know what secrets that house and that garden held, it is a really wonderful experience. If you haven’t read it and haven’t seen the movie, go treat yourself to a book full of twists and turns.

  8. Jim Kjelgaard…like Big Red? The dog books?
    A lot more upbeat than Jack London and his dog books, although I loved Call of the Wild. But really, when the ultimate end of half your books is someone slowly freezing to death…well, c’mon, get a better coat or move to Florida for heaven’s sake.

  9. Hi Rye,
    Oh – I read EVERY animal book at the library. They actually had a section that was two whole shelves (I’m sure very small now – but then they were huge) and I read them all. That’s including The Big Red series and everything that Jack London, Walter Farley, Marguerite Henry and Mary O’Hara….

  10. Hi Mary, I loved your topic today. Brought back lots of memories of when I read to my kids. I think their favorites and mine were Dr. Seuss books. We had all of them. They were so fun and full of wisdom, although the wisdom just kinda snuck in like your “Tootle” book. There were lots of others that we enjoyed but the titles of them escape me right now.

    For my grandkids, I bought the Dear God Kids series by Annie Fitzgerald — “Dear God, Thanks for Making Me Special,” “Dear God, Well I Can Tell You, I Have a Lot of Questions,” and about six others. They’re really neat.

    Reading has always been big in our family and still is. I love that my kids grew up to be avid readers and read to their kids. I think it’s probably one of the most important developmental things you can do for kids.

    Have a great day and keep those books handy! 🙂

  11. This is a wonderful topic, Mary. Our grandson is only a year old, but he already loves books and being read to. For Christmas, we got him Robert Sabuda’s gorgeous “pop-up” Chronicles of Narnia, which of course he isn’t allowed to touch yet LOL.

    My all-time favorites: Good Night Moon, and Where the Wild Things Are.

  12. I was a huge Walter FArley fan as a kid. I don’t know if I ever read them to my own children, but I pushed them toward The Black Stallion.
    You know, I think those Black Stallion books were the first books that made me aware of the skill of writing.
    I remember being really young and reading those books and being aware of how Farley could take a … say two minute horse race … write about it for pages and pages and pages, and keep it moving racehorse-fast, make it seem like you were right there in the midst of the pounding hooves.
    I remember wondering how an author could do that. A real gift.

  13. I’ve never heard of the Dear God Kids series either. Isn’t it amazing how much is out there to choose from? I’d have bet I read every book in existance to my kids and here are popular series I’ve never heard of.

  14. Hi Mary – I’m with Cheryl. I loved Danny and the Dinosaur for my kids. And all the Dr. Suess books, The Cat in the Hat ect. Do any of you remember the The Little Prince?
    As a girl, I read the Henry Higgins series and what was the name of the girl, who had her own series too? Loved them, but my memory fades…

  15. I had Danny and the Dinosaur at my home when I was a kid. I loved that one. Just the fantasy of spending a day with a friendly dinosaur.
    A kid’s dream. 🙂

    The Chronicles of Narnia. We have them but they came at an age where the girls were reading to themselves. I should have read them when the girls were younger. That’s a great idea.

    Those Little House on the Prairie books, though, yikes! I spend months at a stretch being called ‘Ma’ it got a little old.

  16. We read all the Dr. Seuss books at my house when I was a child but we OWNED The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubins. I found it on Amazon but it’s unavailable. Does anyone remember that one? I must have read it eight thousand times as a kid.
    I know this makes me a heretic…I can take it. But I liked Dr. Seuss’s older work better than his newer work.
    I mean c’mon making a poem rhyme is no great trick is you MAKE WORDS UP!
    Horton Hears a Who, best ever. that is a beautiful book.
    The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham.

    But …On Beyond Zebra? Please! Not that it’s not great, it is, it’s just kinda sneaky to make up your own words to force a rhyme!

  17. Our family’s all-time favorite read-aloud story was/is: LOVE YOU FOREVER by Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw.

    My husband, when he served as a pastor, began a tradition of reading this story to the congregation every Mother’s Day. And even though we all knew what was coming after the first year, there were still very few dry eyes in the place.

    My kids and I actually put the song that the mother sings to her son to our own music and would sing it together when we got to that part. Ah, sweet memories.

  18. I had the girls dress up for Halloween one year as Little House on the Prairie girls. Those bonnets were the hardest things I’ve ever successfully sewn.

    I mean I’ve UNSUCCESSFULLY sewn lots of hard things.

    Sewing is NOT my gift.

  19. What a lovely post today, Mary! I don’t remember Tootle (will have to look that one up!), but that’s an excellent message.

    My personal favorites are the board books by Sandra Boynton, just because the animals are so cute–the top three favs are The Going to Bed Book, Hippos Go Beserk, and Blue Hat, Green Hat. My kids also loved the retelling of Noah’s Ark by Lucy Cousins. We’ve got that one memorized. My youngest is currently enamored with Leslie Patricelli’s Yummy Yucky, which is admittedly pretty entertaining. She’s got a whole series, which we don’t yet own.

    I loved the Little House books and Chronicles of Narnia–we started Little House in the Big Woods last December but didn’t make it very far yet. We’ll have to try again soon.

    And wow–you may not be gifted in sewing but bonnets!? I would never have even attempted… 😉 Good for you!!

  20. the bonnets were murder, Fedora. I followed the instructions to the letter and in the end they were bonnets but I have no idea how they turned into bonnets. I’M NOT KIDDING. A very mysterious process, sewing.
    And I was in 4-H for like TEN YEARS. Lotta white ribbons in my closet.

    I didn’t keep them long. 🙂

  21. <p><p>The ribbons, I mean, I didn’t keep the white ribbons. I kept the bonnets for years, I was so impressed with myself.</p><br />
    <p>I had this one costume pattern and I used it over and over. A dress with side seam that included the arms, elastic at the neck, a hem.</p><br />
    <p>The’d be witches…with black fabric and a pointy hat. Angels with white fabric and tinsel halos (try buying tinsel at Halloween!)<br /><br />
    Okay, yeah, the Christmas decorations are probably out already these days, but not back then.<br /><br />
    Then they were prairie girls.<br /><br />
    Then I think they were witches again.<br /><br />
    Geez, by the end I was putting a blazer on them, handing them a briefcase and sun glasses and sending them as ‘businessmen’.</p><br />
    <p>They got the same amount of candy.</p></p>

  22. Mary, I was going to say! If those had been my bonnets (ha!), I would probably have had them bronzed!

    And those are good costume ideas–I’ll have to keep them in mind for later this year. That’s the worst, honestly… trying to come up with something acceptable for the kids to be that isn’t unbelievably expensive to buy or impossible to make, or embarrassing to be ;p What a spoilsport I am!

  23. The books sound great, Mary! I wish I’d known about them earlier.

    My favs: Barn Dance by Bill Martin, John Archambault, and Ted Rand (is almost like reading a song, so fun)
    The Little Mouse, Red, Ripe Strawberry and Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood. Such a cute story with great illustrations!

  24. Reading is the way of life in our family! I read to our children, our children read to their children,
    and even the older grandchildren are reading to their siblings and cousins! Your readers have listed the books we have enjoyed (and kept) over the
    years. I’m really enjoying this stroll down memory

    Pat Cochran

  25. Hi, Pat. It figures that people who hang around a writer’s website would love reading. 🙂

    It’s such a great gift to pass on to our children.

    A sweet, quiet time while you hold them close and share something and build memories that last a lifetime.

  26. Hey, I remember Tootle. And anything Robert Louis Stevenson wrote was wonderful. My favorite books as an older child were Kipling’s Jungle Books. So dark and mystical (to this day I refuse to watch that slap-happy Disney version).
    In my former day job I wrote a lot of children’s books, many of which are still on Loved doing it. Would do more if it was possible to sell them. Thanks for the happy thoughts.

  27. Great post. I read my 2 1/2 year old grandson the Berenstain Bears books. There is one about strangers, the trut, bad habits, the sitter, bad dreams, junk food and a lot of others.

  28. We had a mountain of Berestain Bear books. Those were standbys.

    You WROTE children’s books, Elizabeth? Cool.
    Are they hard? It seems like you have to say so much so simply and, I don’t know, I just think it’d take a special gift.

  29. My son when he was small, 18 now had a lot of those mercer mayer’s little critter books that we read every night. We had one called Just Me and My Dad that we read to him so much that he could read it to you word for word at a very young age, he memorized it.

  30. I rememeber we had a book that was about The Rescuers and it had a tape that read the book. When you hear the sound of the bell, turn the pages.
    And my daughter would speak along with the tape and turn the page at exactly the right place, then she could do it without the tape. She was about two, and it really, really looked like she was reading.

  31. Books are the one thing I indulge in and when it came to my 2 daughters, I have enough books to start a library – really! And that’s not counting the 30 books we used to get out every week from the library. One of my favorites is a Christmas story called The Littlest Angel. It’s a tradition that I read it very year and I end up sobbing!!

  32. Jeanne, My youngest daughter Katy starred in the school Christmas play as The Littlest Angel. I’ve got tingles! 🙂 It was so beautiful. I remember Katy had to cry and the teacher made big blue tears out of contruction paper and katy had to stick them on her face. It was so funny and sweet.

  33. Wonderful post, Mary!

    My boys are 13 & 14, and I still read to them 🙂 I got the new Harry Potter book on tape for a car trip, and they hated it. We bought the book at an Airport on our next trip *lol*. When they were young one of my favorite books was SALAMANDER ROOM–a boy finds a salamander in the woods and his mom asks how he’ll care for it in his room, and he starts by saying he’ll get it a bed of moss, and by the time he’s done his room is the forrest, and he realizes he needs to set the salamander free 🙂 We loved the book of POLAR EXPRESS years before it was a movie. My kids were crazy for Scholasitc books and we have scads of them. A couple favorites off the top of my head that we read over and over are BALLOON FARM (very imaginative), THREE OWLS, FLYING TURTLE…lots and lots of fun memories 🙂

  34. when i was little i remember getting a book for my birthday. i think it was favourite fairy tales. im not sure
    but it has the Snow Queen. i loved that story so much.
    as i got older Enid Byton books were the go. i loved the Magic faraway tree and the sequals i wanted to live there. The naughtiest girl in school, Mr Gilliano’s circus. Loved the little house on the praire books too.
    I dont have kids but i did baby sit alot and one i love is The Pear in the Pear Tree by
    Allen, Pamela, there is another about a little girl Rosie who is swinging and swings so high she touches the moon.
    They were cool books to read to children.
    Oh and the Dear God books.

  35. So many great books out there. My sister got the whole Lord of the Rings series as books on tape. I don’t know if there are different versions but she said this one was so good they’d just listen to it during every single drive then, the minute they’d get to the end of….oh, it was so many CDs I can’t even repeat it…like … no, I must remember it wrong but dozens of CDs for the whole series. She said they listened and listened and the reader had this fantastic booming English accented voice and she finally gave it to my other sister and said, “Don’t give it back to me for a while. I’m addicted to it.”
    She added, “But don’t you dare hurt it. I have to have it BACK!” 🙂

  36. Hi, Mary. Great post. My kids are a little older and I encourage them to read all the time. Just bought some great books for my 8 year old. But my favorite is shopping YA novels for my teenage daughter. Those books sure have come a long way since the Judy Blume novels of my day!

  37. Hi, Kathleen, thanks for stopping in. YA is a huge, growing field right now. Do Babysitters Club count or is that more middle-grade? I’m not sure of all the categories.

  38. After this post I went home and started reading “Kim” by Rudyard Kipling. He was (and still is) one of my very favorite authors as a child. I think I’m going to have to re-read “The Jungle Book,” too!

  39. i have been looking for maude and claude for ever!!!there is this recurring tune in my head of
    mother and father sent Maude and her brother. i love it. i heard it when i was 5 and now it is more than thirty years later

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