by Abby, Bookseller
I basically grew up in a bookstore. My dad was a bookseller, and when I would visit him at work I would take a book into the small wooden house in the children’s section, curl up, and read for what felt like hours. Sometimes I would poke my head out to ask customers if they would like help picking out a book, because I could give them very good recommendations for a six year old, considering I was six myself.
As I grew older, I became intent on reading as advanced books as I could manage. When I was seven, I wanted to read a book meant for an eight year old. When I was eight, I wanted to read books meant for a ten year old. I thought that a book was categorically better if it challenged my reading abilities, if I was accomplishing something by reading it. I’m ashamed to admit that I only picked up Gone With the Wind because it was the longest book in my middle school library and I wanted the hallway cred. I didn’t even like it that much, and I definitely didn’t understand a lot of the themes.
Starting around the time that I graduated college and became a full-time bookseller, though, I started to venture back into the world of children’s books, at first because it was my job and then because they just made me happy. I realized that they don’t stop being relevant when you “age out,” and a book is not inherently better because it’s more challenging to read. There are books that are meant for and often only able to be appreciated by those who are older (I’m looking at you, Gone with the Wind) - but I think kids books are almost always accessible and enjoyable to all.
This list is a mix of my favorites now and my favorites growing up, because they are a comfort now just like they were when I was younger. Please take a look - for a kid in your life, of course, but also for you.