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Written by Flannery Fitch   

Fresh off the heels of our two-day Harry Potter extravaganza this summer (the biggest event Bookshop Santa Cruz has ever undertaken), I’ve been feeling very grateful for all that the Harry Potter series has given me, as well as for the many people who worked so hard to pull off the celebrations and the community who came out and made it all worthwhile. Since September 21st is World Gratitude Day, I’ve been thinking about the other books I’m grateful for, and thought I’d share some of the children’s titles here.

 

Miss Rumphius

Story and pictures by Barbara Cooney

I think Miss Rumphius is a perfect children’s book. Based on a real woman, it tells the story of a lady who spends her youth adventuring, and her elder days scattering lupine seeds wherever she goes—making the world a more beautiful place. I love the message that something as small as scattering seeds can bring such joy to the world, and Cooney’s gorgeous illustrations bring me joy.

 

The Wump World

by Bill Peet

Honestly, almost any Bill Peet book could go on this list. Clever, funny, with silly rhyming words to rival Dr. Seuss, Bill Peet’s books are perfect for children. His colored pencil drawings are wonderful, and his stories have a flow and cadence that makes them perfect for reading out loud.

 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

by Roald Dahl

This is my favorite Roald Dahl book. For one, what child’s dream isn’t to be in a candy factory like that? Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is sweet and heartwarming, dark and funny. I tear up every time I read the part where Charlie finds the golden ticket. To me, this is pure literary magic.

 

Riding Freedom

by Pam Munoz Ryan

This fictionalized story of real-life heroine Charley Parkhurst inspired me as a little girl. Parkhurst was a woman who, disguised as a man, became one of the most daring stagecoach drivers ever and was the first woman to legally vote. As a lover of horses and a tomboy, this book made me believe I could do anything. Plus, it boasts ink illustrations by none other than Brian Selznick.

 

The Redwall Series

by Brian Jacques

I read this whole series again and again as a child. I loved the forest, abbey, and ocean settings, the pages-long descriptions of feasts, the swashbuckling adventures, and the talking animals. As a child I loved the fun of it. As an adult, I appreciate the great values and vocabulary it taught me more than anything!

 

The Lioness Quartet

by Tamora Pierce

This is another series that I’ve read so many times that the covers are falling off. Beginning with Alanna, it follows Alanna of Trebond, a young girl who disguises herself as her twin brother in order to become a knight. Full of friends and enemies, swordplay and sorcery, talking animals and adventures, this quartet is not only awesome in it’s own right, it launches a whole new world with other books and stories. For me, Alanna is the ultimate heroine.

 

Thirteen Reasons Why

by Jay Asher

This book was given to me when I was dealing with my first really serious bought of depression, and it gave me a life raft. Told partly in tapes recorded by a teen girl who committed suicide and partly from the perspective of the boy listening to them, it might seem like a book about a girl who kills herself is the last thing you should give a severely depressed teen girl, but it’s ultimate message is that suicide isn’t an answer. It saved me, and it has saved others.

 

Flannery Fitch is a bookseller at Bookshop Santa Cruz. Her life has been about books since before she could read.

 
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