Up Close and (un)Conventional – Children’s Books

Posted 19 January, 2018 by Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms in Discussion Posts / 46 Comments

Up Close and (un)Conventional - (un)Conventional Bookviews

Up Close and (un)Conventional – Children’s Books

Welcome to my Up Close and (un)Conventional. This is where I discuss both things that have to do with reading and blogging, and things that just have to do with life in general. This time, I wanted to chat a little bit about children’s books. Especially when it comes to international bloggers. Because, frankly, I had never heard of Dr. Seuss until I was an adult – we had so many Scandinavian authors who wrote children’s books. And even now, I think that most of them are really excellent.

I’m pretty sure that even my English-speaking friends have heard of some of the authors that populated my childhood with amazing stories, but there might be some that are less well known, too.

One of my favorite children’s books authors is Astrid Lindgren – Sweden. She wrote Pippi Longstocking, The Brothers Lionheart, Ronia the Robber’s Daugher, and Emil in Lönnaberga among many others. Astrid Lindgren truly had a way with words, and her world-building was amazing! The last time I went to Norway, I bought new hard covers of my two favorite stories by her.

Another of my favorite children’s books authors is Anne Cath. Vestly – Norway. Some of her stories that touched me the most were written in the late 1960s, early 1970s. She managed to seamlessly bring gender equality into her stories. In her Aurora series, it’s Aurora’s father who stays at home with her, while her mother is a successful lawyer. This book was first published in 1966, and I think it helped my world view to read a story with a father at home with his child while the mother worked out of the home and was a breadwinner. Vestly also wrote some other series that were really good, like The Eight Children series or the Ole Aleksander series.

And in a post about children’s books, I can’t really go on without mentioning fairy tales, right? Asbjørnsen and Moe travelled around Norway and got old folk tales from various parts of the country before writing them down into a selection of Norwegian fairy tales. Several of these fairy tales have been made into animated movies or puppet movies, which I sometimes watch even today.

While there are several more I could mention, I am going to stop with my fourth author, Torbjørn Egner, who wrote both books and children’s plays. Both the books and the plays animated my childhood, and I found some old cassettes with audio versions of some of them.

Do you have some children’s books recommendations from your country? If you are in the US, what other stories than Dr. Seuss did you read when you were very young? Did these books shape your love of reading? Did stories already make you expand your view of the world as  a child?

Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

About Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

Linda is an English as foreign language teacher and has a Master's degree in English Language and Literature. She's an avid reader, blogger, compulsive one-clicker and a genre omnivore. Ever since she learnt how to read she has been seen with a book or two in her hands everywhere she goes.

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46 responses to “Up Close and (un)Conventional – Children’s Books

  1. I adore Pippi Longstocking. 🙂 I’ll have to check out the others. I think that’s neat about the stay at home dad book- my dad and mom switched off at times as I grew up.

    I’m from the US. My favorite children’s books were The Black Stallion series by Walter Farley, Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Trixie Belden series, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, The Three Investigators (LOL, I was a mystery buff as a kid, it seems). I also read Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women stories and Lucy Maude Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon and Pat of Silver Bush series. There are many more. I practically lived at the library in our town.

    Great walk down memory lane, Lexxie. 🙂

    • A bit after I read the Aurora books and most of Astrid Lindgren’s books, I read Black Stallion, Trixie Belden, Nandy Drew and the Hardy Boys, too, Sophia 🙂
      It’s always interesting to me to see what books were popular in other countries, and so many of my blogger friends talk about Dr. Seuss – it’s nice to see that we had some in common even way back then.

  2. I didn’t really read kids books growing up. But I have been introduced to some lovely ones recently.

    Shadow Weaver by MarcyKate Connolly.
    Franny K. Stein by Jim Benton.
    Quantum Door by Jonathan Ballagh are the first ones that pop into my head.

      • Shadow Weaver is a dark fantasy tale for kids about a little girl and her shadow – and her ability to weave shadows. Its all about her realizing that sometimes just because people are nice to you doesn’t mean they have your best interest at heart, learning to trust, etc. Its amazing.
        Franny K. Stein is a cute little series about a little girl mad scientist, and her adventures trying to go to school with normal kids, and learning how to everyone is different and that just because she enjoys making monsters doesn’t mean everyone does – and that’s okay.
        Quantum Door actually straddles the MG/YA line, and is really hard to describe. Its science fiction, parallel worlds, and two brothers on a journey.

  3. I LOVED Pippi Longstocking as a child. I know I read the book, but it was the movie that really made me fall in love. I’m not real familiar with Norway’s fairy tales. I grew up with Grimm’s fairy tales from Germany, but when I was a child, we had a sanitized version. Then in high school, I read the original, several in the original German in my German classes. My suggestions for kids’ books, Peter Rabbie, Winnie the Pooh, Where the Wild Things Are, Charlotte’s Web. Shel Silverstein is a great author of kids books. His books have poems and little short stories in them. I loved Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic and The Giving Tree.

    I also have to mention that I grew up with 45 records that came with books. It was my first foray into audiobooks. I had probably 50+ of these books. I loved them. I guess I was always destined to be an audiobook junkie. 🙂

    • Yeah, Grimm’s fairytales are fairly grim, to say the least! The Norwegian fairytales are a bit sweeter, with a moral of the story, and almost always it is the anti-hero who wins the day 🙂 I think that’s one of the things that made me love them so much.
      Oh, Winnie the Pooh was a part of my childhood as well, and I have read those stories so many times to my children. Winnie has a certain way about him, and I love how whenever he has a choice to make, he says yes, please, both!
      Audiobooks are the best, and I didn’t even realize I had listened to those when I was younger 🙂

  4. Interesting post. My mom was a teacher of what was then called remedial reading, taught K – 2 grades. I was a very good reader but sick a lot, in the hospital 42 of 45 days one period for example in first grade.

    Anyway, I had some Dr. Suess, but my mom had collected a bunch of fairy tales from multiple countries as part of a project for college. They were complied and organized by country. She originally had a 2 year teaching degree and was just finishing her 4 year. She typed it all up. I have to assume they were out of copyright, so old, but she says I enjoyed them. Some are rather gruesome. I still have the book. And now I can’t find it in my 19 bookcases, possibly my daughter moved it to read. I’ll check back when I locate it.

    • Oh my goodness! I love that you have a compilation of international fairytales that your mom managed to get a hold of, Anne!
      I would be very interested to have a list, as sometimes, fairytales work very well for the classes I teach as well.

      • I finally found it I will send you a message in Facebook with a photo of the table of contents. It looks like she didn’t do it but her class. They had permission from publishers to include some stories. Some of them I recognize easily like Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast or the Three Bears but some are less well-known.

  5. Astrid Lindgren and Tove Jansson will always top my children’s book lists. But I must admit that I’ve never read Anne Cath. Vestly, I should though now that I live in Norway.

  6. I wish I’d been able to read Anne Cath Vestly. That’s incredible that she incorporated gender equality during that era. 😀 The only favorites I can think of are ones I also read to my kids…The Little That Could, The Roly-Poly Puppy, Ferdinand. Oh, I read Nancy Drew, Tom Sawyer, and The Chronicles of Narnia. I was reading Agatha Christie by the time I was in 4th grade and I don’t remember all the children’s books I read or had read to me. But those stick out in my mind. Great post, wifey! {{{big hugs}}}

    • I’m sure you would have loved Aurora when you were younger, Brandee. She was awesome, and so was her dad 🙂
      I haven’t heard of the first three you mentioned, but I’ve read all the other ones.
      Thanks for the recs, wifey! I miss you!! {{{BIG HUGS}}}

  7. Awesome post, Lexxie! I’m sad I never read a Astrid Lindgren when I was a child but I did love watching Pippi Longstocking on tv, though. I did have a favorite author from Belgium when I was a kid. His books were more for 10+ I’d say but I loved them so much. And I even got to meet the author at a book fair about 4 years ago and tell him how much of a fan I was of his. I couldn’t find his book that he told me about so he went with me to the publisher’s booth to find it with me and signed it right then and there. Best day ever! Haha sorry for the lost reply. :3

    • Thank you, Stephanie! Pippi Longstocking was awesome in the movie as well! The actress they found for her role was perfect, and the stories were very close to the books.
      How awesome that you got to meet the children’s author whom you admired the most when you were a kid! That’s such a great story.

  8. I’ve also never read Dr Seuss! Same reasons. Astrid Lindgren though <3 she is an absolutely goddess. And people love her here. My favorite is Karlsson on the Roof, there is even a really famous Russian cartoon that everyone knows. And I've read that book possibly close to 10 times. I've bought it for my nephews too. It's SUCH a wonderful story!!

    • Karsslon on the Roof was awesome – there was a TV series about him, if I remember correctly, but maybe it was only shown in Norway and Sweden, I don’t know.
      I had no idea there was a Russian cartoon about Karlsson, that’s awesome.

  9. I’m from the UK and I find it hard to distinguish between US and UK child authors because well, as a child I didn’t mind and they all got mixed up in there for me! I loved Dr. Seuss, but I also really loved Jacqueline Wilson and Roald Dahl (upper children’s fiction, though). I read ALL their books as a kid. And you’re right, I don’t know that much about foreign children’s fiction!

    • I can’t believe I forgot to mention Roald Dahl! I devoured his books, too, when I was a kid, and my kids have loved those as well. It’s natural to not know all that much about foreign children’s fiction, I think. Especially if it’s easy to get your hands on children’s books – then, why would you look anywhere else but home?

  10. I love this post. It is really fun to see your favorite reads as a child. To be honest, I grew up in a non-reading household, so I don’t have any memories of books.
    Well wait! There was one book my grandmother read to me in German about a child who let his hygiene go, it was called Der Strewwelpeter by Dr.Heinrich Hoffman. I need to get my hands on that book for my children.
    I used to love to read my kids Goodnight Moon, which is an early childhood book. I do enjoy some Dr. Suess for my babies. Our favorites are Oh the Places You’ll Go and My Many Colored Days. That last one is a little known Dr.Suess that talks about different emotions.
    Sorry I don’t have much variety for American children’s books. Hopefully this will change before I get grandchildren. Lol!
    Great post!

    • My parent’s didn’t read all that much, but my grandparents, and my aunts and uncles always brought me books. And they were definitely a big part of my childhood.
      I wonder if I should try to pick up a Dr. Seuss book just to see what they are all about? I just might enjoy them, even if I’m not a kid anymore.

  11. Dr Seuss was one I read when I was younger but I enjoyed Enid Blyton’s books: The Faraway Tree, Famous Five and Mallory Towers. And Jenny Nimmo’s Charlie Bone series was for me my gateway into fantasy and loving magic. Great post!

  12. oh hun, I love LOVE this post so much!!! I just adore children’s books and even though I wasn’t a big reader as a kid, there were some books I adore. Some of my favorites were of course Fairy Tale—because those are just classics everywhere worldwide, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, Little Women, Little House on the Prarie and Anne of Green Gables.

  13. Berls

    I grew up on Pippi Longstocking and LOVED her 🙂 I’ll have to check out the others. As a kindergarten teacher, you KNOW I have a LONG list of great children’s book authors. Beyond the obvious Dr. Seuss, there’s Mo Willems, Anna Dewdeny, David Shannon, Peggy Parish (Amelia Bedelia books), and Eric Carle… to name just a few favorites.

    Hope you had a great week Lexxie! {{BIG HUGS}}

    • Oh that’s a great list, Berls, thank you so much! I think children’s books are awesome, and I needed a short trip down memory lane. I’m happy you loved Pippi Longstocking when you were little. She was such a strong female character, and I loved how irreverent she was 🙂

  14. Hi! I can totally chime in on this one. While I have not read many of the authors that inspired you I am a HUGE Pippi Longstocking fan. Reading the books and watching the movies – so much fun!

    I read very few of the Dr Seuss books, but my favorite is a compilation of shorter stories that features The Sneeches. A great story about the pitfalls of envy and exclusivity. [I think it should be mandatory reading for, well, I won’t go there. 😉 ] Very interesting moral lessons in that group of stories.

    I was able to log almost all of the books I read as a child in my goodreads library. While most of my friends were reading Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary (I like Cleary better of the two) I was reading Franklin W Dixon, Carolyn Keene, Holly Beth Walker – all mystery writers – and stories about witches or ghosts. As a tween and teen I enjoyed falling in love stories and historical romances (the latter always had a triangle lol). CArolyn Haywood was a favorite; I got hers from the school library. Stories featuring animals too.

    I graduated to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie when I was around 9 or 10. Overall, I would live in the library and read whatever caught my eye.

    Looking at the list you can tell these authors did really shape my reading preferences. 😀

    • It makes me very happy to see how many of my bookish friends enjoyed Pippi Longstocking when they were younger, Xyra!
      Carolyn Keene is one I read too, but when I was around 10-ish, I read the other books I mentioned when I was younger.
      I haven’t heard of Carolyn Haywood, do you think her books would work for teens? I’m always looking for more books I can share with my students. I have some who have good English skills, so they are a bit bored in class.

      • Hi!
        Sorry to say Carolyn Haywood’s books (The Betsy Series) was definitely elementary reading. I remember the one was about getting a pair or red patent leather shoes and another about her little sister. I think they were written in the late 40s or 50s.

        I saw another comment mentioned Enid Blyton! I didn’t mention here because I found her Mallory Towers series in college on a trip to England. I’m missing two of the series because I haven’t been able to find them in the USA. Also written in the 40s or 50s, falls under the boarding school genre.

        Most of the teens I know have reading lists similar to mine or Jackie’s (Sarah Dessen is a popular author). Of course, John Green is popular as well as Rick Riordan. 🙂

  15. I actually don’t remember many books from my childhood, and I don’t even know the authors, I just vaguely remember some of the books/stories. I do know Dr. Seuss though! But that’s probably because I’ve read some of his stuff as an adult too. And some of it has great messages and has been made into movies. I never even thought about how other countries might not know of his books. But anyway, I love that one of your faves had a stay at home dad and working mom! Kids books should definitely have more diversity in stuff like that because it does influence how kids think.

    • I think I’d like to read Dr. Seuss now, maybe. Especially if the books have some good messages, and that there are movies.
      There might be Dr. Seuss translated to some languages, but I can’t remember any in Norwegian from when I was little.

      • Have you ever seen/heard of the Grinch? That’s Dr. Seuss. I know The Lorax (book and movie) is all about protecting the environment. I always liked The Sneetches poem, and that one is about discrimination. Horton Hears a Who is a funny movie. You should check some of his stuff out if you’re able to find it anywhere!

  16. Without a doubt, Kay Thompson’s “Eloise” was my favorite book as a child. It was so much different from my other books in that it never talked down to the reader. And Eloise was a character unlike any I’d ever met before. She wasn’t perfect, far from it. She was like me! I also loved anything by Shel Silverstein. He definitely contributed to my wanting to be a writer and still influences my writing today.

    • I have never heard of Kay Thompson, Allison, but now, I think I’ll have to check her out, too. I think it’s extremely important that books (or the characters) don’t talk down to the reader. And imperfect characters are the best to get to know, as they are very realistic.
      Thanks for sharing your fave.

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