Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Illinois

The question that was asked this time:
"What is one of your favorite children's books?"

Liz Abraham

Stanley and Rhoda by Rosemary Wells is a lot of fun, but hands down the most memorable book is Charlotte's Web by E.B. White.


Gene Amberg

Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber.


Charlene Anchor
My favorite book as a child was Lad: A Dog by Albert Payson Terhune, which he wrote in 1919. Then I read a follow-up book on Lad called Lad of Sunnybank.  I have a 1929 copy of that book. Lad was his real-life dog. Out of curiosity I checked the children's section of the Champaign Library and they had Lad: A Dog

Albert Payson's estate, Sunnybank, is maintained as Terhune Memorial Park in Wayne, NJ. The descendents of his beloved Sunnybank collies live on in the breed today. 


Tammie Bouseman

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster - wonderful word play and ideas. And a good story!


Catherine Capel 

D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths by Ingrid and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire.


Sandra Casserly

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, first published in 1911. My special memories of that book come from my two-room grade school where 3rd and 4th grade were combined in one classroom. Our teacher read portions of this book to us each day as a reward for good behavior. I have read it many times after that and several years ago I saw both a movie and a musical based on the book.


Chris Catanzarite

E.B. White's Charlotte's Web is one terrific, radiant book in every way - with one of the best final lines of all time: "It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both."


Read E.B. White's response to his editor explaining why he wrote "Charlotte's Web".

"Well, I like animals, and it would be odd if I failed to write about them. Animals are a weakness with me, and when I got a place in the country I was quite sure animals would appear, and they did."

"I haven't told why I wrote the book, but I haven't told you why I sneeze, either. A book is a sneeze."


Mindy Catanzaro

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod by Eugene Field. Another favorite is Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. Makes me cry every time I read it.


Frank Chadwick
David and the Phoenix by Edward Ormondroyd. I loved this book as a young boy, even though the end always drew tears. It's the story of a young boy who discovers a mythical bird living on top of the mountain behind his new home. The bird talks (in something of a British accent), makes friends with David, and undertakes to "complete his education" by introducing him to the living world of mythology. In the ensuing adventures they meet sea serpents, gryphons, a leprechaun, and lots more. The purely educational trips are soon supplanted by more purposeful expeditions to thwart a scientist trying to track down the phoenix and shoot it to prove its existence. I suppose it's a story about the interface between childhood and adulthood, and an argument that adults do not have to surrender their imaginations or sentimentality. But it's a great story in its own right as well, made so by the marvelously quirky and charming character of the phoenix.  


Pat. Chapel

Birds at Home by Marguerite Henry. It's an oversize book with 1942 copyright. I still have a copy, though it's not my original book.


Judie Christensen

My favorite children's books are the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, beginning with Little House in the Big Woods. Actually I read these, not when I was a child, but when I worked in the Children's Department of the Lexington (Kentucky) Public Library years ago. They are a wonderful introduction to growing up in the rural Midwest beginning in the last half of the nineteenth century.


Laura Ingalls Wilder did not keep a childhood diary, but began writing about her families' homesteading experiences when she was in her sixties at the urging of her daughter Lane, who may have helped with the editing. Eight Little House books were published between 1932 and 1943. For more information on the author and to find out what happened to the family and their friends, see the web site of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Society.


Marsha Clinard

One of my favorite books, one which I read to my grandchildren every year, is The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by Dubose Heyward.


Isabel Cole

Animal books, of course! The Black Stallion series by Walter Farley, Big Red by Jim Kjelgaard, The Call of the Wild by Jack London, all the Marguerite Henry books about famous horses, etc.


Trisha Crowley

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.


Craig Cutbirth

When I was quite small I was given a Little Golden Book called Pantaloon by Kathryn Jackson. Pantaloon was a black poodle, living in Paris of course, as all French poodles should. Pantaloon loved sweets and wanted to be a baker. When he talked to the baker he was initially rejected but kept trying and ultimately won out. He soon became famous and he and the baker lived happily ever after. I read and re-read that book until it disintegrated. A few years ago my sister gave me a replacement copy and I discovered that I still like it! The illustrations by Steven Salerno of Pantaloon wearing a big white chef's hat were just too cool for words.


Paul Davis

I loved reading Hide and Seek Fog by Alvin Tresselt and Roger Duvoisin to my kids. Great watercolor pictures and one of the best books using words that sounded like the story.


Jerry DeWitt

My favorite children's book is Everyone Knows What A Dragon Looks Like by Jay Williams.


Anne Ehrlich

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. I still read it for peace, comfort, and amusement.


View the original letters, manuscripts, and drawings for The Wind in the Willows in an online exhibit by the University of Oxford's Bodleian Library.


Doug Foster

My friend's daughter likes Heidi by Johanna Spyri. I enjoyed the 1968 Jets-Colts Heidi game!


Phyllis Gingold

Silver Chief: Dog of the North by Jack O'Brien.


Lizie and Ned Goldwasser

Wolf Story by William McCleery first came out in 1947 and was one of our children's favorite books. We, the parents, love it, too. It was out of print for years but has now been reprinted, which will be a big treat for a new generation of parents and children. You'll love it.


"A Father's Decades - Old Bedtime Story Is Back In Print", by NPR staff


Listen to NPR Review and read an excerpt from William McCleery's Wolf Story.  


Jane Green

So many favorites that I read to my children and now my grandchildren. Most favorite is The Story of Babar by Jean De Brunhoff - really all the series from the first to the newest, so it is impossible to choose just one! Sometimes I read them when I am without children!


Megan Guenther

My favorite is Maggie's Ball by Lindsay Barrett George. I know Lindsay and she is a wonderful author and illustrator and an even better person.


Lynn Handy

The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner.


Barbara Hartman

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I read it to my now 43-year-old daughter when she was young. She read Silverstein to her children when they were younger. It's nice to pass down favorite stories.


Eve Harwood

Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. It should come with a tissue for the parent reader. Also Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.


Listen to the author read Love You Forever aloud on the official Robert Munsch web site. You can also download the audio file to your own computer!

Munsch posts charming children's letters and drawings as well and has poems and stories he has written for the children that write to him.


Bev Herzog

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. I read this to campers as a bedtime story at Girl Scout camp every summer I worked there. The girls also loved it.


"To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world...."
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince


Connie Hosier

Piggy Pie! by Margie Palatini. Gritch the witch flies to Old MacDonald's farm to collect some pigs to make piggy pie ... but somehow the tables were turned. This hilarious book can be purchased used for as little as one cent on Amazon. All three girls at our house consider it a favorite. Me, too!


Barbara Kaufman

Baby Island by Carol Ryrie Brink. Two young girls were baby-sitting the children of several families on a cruise ship when there was a problem that sent everyone to lifeboats. The girls and the children were all put in one boat, which got separated from the others, and they were soon marooned on an island. I must have checked it out of the library four or five times and recently I found a paperback copy among my daughter's old books. I read it again and it was still fun.


Connie Kelley

I was an avid childhood reader. I loved The Bobbsey Twins by Laura Lee Hope and read and owned the entire Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene. I also loved the book Jiggers: A Dog Story by Joy Muchmore Lacy.


The first Bobbsey Twins title, The Bobbsey Twins; or, Merry Days Indoors and Out, was published in 1904 by The Mershon Company.

The Bobbsey Twins was published from 1904 to 1979 in 72 volumes under the pseudonym Laura Lee Hope. Over twenty authors are thought to have participated in writing  the books over the years, and today the authorship of many of the titles is unclear.

For an interesting publication history of The Bobbsey Twins or to identify your own copies,  Bobbsey Twins Formats is a valuable resource.


Mary Kinney

I have so many but this is near the top of the list - The Lucky Sixpence by Emilie Benson Knipe and Alden Arthur Knipe, published in 1912. It's one of several books published 1912-1914 about a young English girl who gets sent to America by herself (disguised as a boy) to live with a wealthy cousin who is heavily involved in the Revolutionary War. Her knowledge of the states is very slight; her first thoughts are that she will be taking care of his 'wigwim' but all that changes and she lives an exciting life of danger and intrigue. This is a book that can be read and reread. The illustrations, by Arthur B. Becher, are awesome.


Carol Kubitz

I love children's books and have a favorite author/illustrator named Jan Brett. Her illustrations are fantastic and the books loved by children (and me). Four favorites are The Mitten, Annie and the Wild Animals, Berlioz the Bear, and Daisy Comes Home, but they all are wonderful and make great gifts for children - be sure to spend time with the book you buy before you send it away. Adults love them, too.


With over thirty-seven million books in print, Jan Brett is one of the nation's foremost authors and illustrators of children's books.
Visit her website for "How to Draw" videos, and to find coloring pages, games and activities.

And more! You can download and print her beautiful greeting cards and postcards!


Mary Kuetemeyer Two books I always enjoy sharing with children are Janet & Allan Ahlberg's The Jolly Postman or Other People's Letters and The Jolly Christmas Postman. The authors have created a delightful world of the Jolly Postman delivering mail to well-known fairy-tale characters, and the reader is able to take each letter out of its own envelope to discover what they have written. There is a letter of apology from Goldilocks to Baby Bear, a postcard to Mr V. Bigg from Jack describing the holiday he, his Mum, and the Hen are enjoying thanks to the golden eggs, and advertisements for witches. Lots of fun to think about what happened after the fairy tales ended, plus some thoughts on letter writing.  


Richard Meier

A favorite of mine is Dr. Seuss's The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, of which I still have a copy. 


Barbara Meyer

Black Beauty was one of the first books ever written from the point of view of an animal and had a powerful impact on me. It was never meant to be a children's book, but I didn't learn this until years later when I started collecting various editions. Anna Sewell was an invalid who finished her one and only book from her deathbed. She died five months after it was published in 1877 and though she gained wide acclaim for its message of empathy which struck a chord in 19th century Britain, she never lived to see the widespread legal reforms against cruelty to animals that it inspired. It has been said to be the first animal rights book. 


Peter Michalove

The Winnie-the-Pooh series by A.A. Milne.


Winnie the Pooh and his friends are based on stuffed toys that belonged to Milne's son, Christopher Robin. The toys that inspired the books are now housed at the New York Public Library.


Sharon Michalove

The Madeline books by Ludwig Bemelmans.


Mary Mortland

I really enjoy Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I picture myself as Jo. If there is a local theater production, I hope to audition for the role (playing myself).


Bruno Nettl

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss.


Find out at "15 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Dr. Seuss"


Pam Olson

 The Original Warm Fuzzy Tale by Claude Steiner.


Carol Ordal

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.


Gladys Otis
One of my favorite children book is Daddy, Is There Really a God? by John D. Morris.  


Jean Peters

Hard to choose one! Anything by Maurice Sendak; one that is often overlooked in favor of Where the Wild Things Are is What Do You Say, Dear? by Sesyle Joslin with illustrations by Sendak. It's a wonderfully silly way to teach "manners." If I can choose a second, it would be something by Shel Silverstein, such as Runny Babbit: A Billy Sook, or one of his poetry and drawing collections, such as Every Thing On It.


Patricia Porter

I have always held The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper close to my heart. The message gave me hope when times got tough and encouraged me to keep trying. I know there's better literature out there and I enjoyed reading it, but this story stands out for me.


Jo Pride

My favorite book as a child was The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. I still have the book.


Deborah Quick

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.


Judy Reynolds

My favorite kids' book is Momo by Michael Ende, who also wrote The Neverending Story. In Momo, the antagonists are time thieves, dressed as gray businessmen.


Bob Riley

I hate going with what I assume will be a crowd, but Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame and Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak are in a class by themselves ... nothing else is even close.   


"Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children's letters - sometimes very hastily - but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, "Dear Jim: I loved your card."  Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, "Jim loved your card so much he ate it." That to me was one of the highest compliments I've ever received. He didn't care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it."...Maurice Sendak


Barak Rosenshine

The Tom Swift series  by Victor Appleton.


Janice Rothbaum

Loved Winnie-the-Pooh and all the A.A. Milne books, and so did my children.


Joseph Rotman

Both my kids loved Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, and it was a lullaby I crooned (which was musical only to them). As for my own youthful books, it depends on how old I was at the time. As a young kid, I loved all the sports books of John R. Tunis. When I got to high school, I read only assigned books, a consequence of being forced to read Julius Caesar and Macbeth and Silas Marner and Ivanhoe. Only in my senior high school year was I told to read Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (and the movie of it came out around the same time). What 16-year-old couldn't love the huge-nosed lover with the biggest heart in the world?


Bob Shair

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.


Veronica Shavitt

The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss.


Jerry Soesbe

Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge. Much like the story of the Dutch boy who plugs the dike with his finger, this delightful little story is all about honor, sacrifice and doing the right thing. I read the story when I was ten or eleven and its positive depiction of life in Holland in the 19th century made an important impression on me.


Cheri Sullivan

I loved reading aloud to my kids. My favorite books (and theirs) for sharing this way were, for toddlers, Day of Rhymes by Sarah Pooley (sadly out of print, but inexpensive used copies are available); for preschoolers, Pumpernickel Tickle and Mean Green Cheese by Nancy Patz and Noisy Nora by Rosemary Wells; and for grade schoolers, Nicobobinus by Terry Jones of Monty Python fame.


Denise Taylor

Any collection of fairy tales illustrated by either the glorious Kay Nielsen, such as East of the Sun and West of the Moon, or Edmund Dulac, such as Edmund Dulac's Fairy-Book. A more recent favorite:Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. It lets children know that all emotions are part of being human.


Karen Townsend

I loved all books with horses in them - then along came Gone with the Wind. I was smitten with the Civil War and the horses that appeared in the film. I often wondered if I was born in the wrong time period!?!


Jane Walsh

My favorite children's book is Stop That Pickle! by Peter Armour. I read this story over and over again to groups of children at Read Across America and they loved it. The expressions on their faces were amazing, especially when the pickle was saved in the end.


Paula Watson

One of my favorite children's books is an old one called The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper. It's about a small blue engine who pulls a large train over a mountain so the children on the other side can have toys and good things to eat. As she gets started up the hill, she says over and over again: "I think I can, I think I can," which mimics the sound of the chug-chugging of a train.


 In Search of Watty Piper: A Brief History of the "Little Engine" Story 
Celebrating More Than One Hundred Years of Thinking I Can!

Roy E.Plotnick, Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies at the UI-Chicago campus, has a special interest in children's literature. On his website he investigates the history of this beloved tale and includes a discussion of the gender issues surrounding the story. Most people don't remember that the little engine was female!


Rosalind Weinberg

Maurice Sendak's four small books for little hands, Nutshell Library. This collection contains Alligators All Around, Chicken Soup with Rice, One Was Johnny, and Pierre.


Gene Williams
We Are in a Book by Mo Willems, in the Elephant and Piggie series. Willems illustrates his own books. This whole series is great. I also like lots of classical children's books, but as you asked for only one, this is my recommendation.   


Candace Wilmot

All of the Oz books by L. Frank Baum - that's how I learned to read.


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