Monday, April 24, 2006

Not a Fan of Best Books Lists Because...

Too sunny to spend much time reading inside this weekend, but last night I did surf the web for---what else, kids' books. I came across dozens of 'the best kids' books' type lists which I always find a challenge. I mean, how do you decide what to put on the list? There are the best picture books, the best YA novels, the best early chapter books not to mention the best of categories within the categories. How about the best cross-over picture books, the best humorous picture books? How do you distinguish between a brilliant book like The Wednesday Surprise by Eve Bunting and the equally brilliant Gifts by Jo Ellen Bogart, or a million other wonderful titles? Or what about Philip Pullman's Dark Materials fantasy series with its biblical and mythological echoes that continue to resonate long after you've read them versus something like the edgy realism of Blue Highway by Diane Tulson, a book about teenage substance abuse and its consequences. While Pullman is often appreciated, Blue Highway garnered negative reviews probably because its content is a little too close to home. Otherwise, I can't figure out why it wouldn't be at the top of everyone's list. There's the whole 'we want kids to have uplifting messages' not to mention the downright censorship that a book like Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak by Deborah Ellis which has recently been buffeted by. Given the wonderful books that can get left off a list, I'd rather stick to the 'I love this book because of this... or that book because of that...' approach. Besides, any list that I could ever create would have to constanly been expanding. I guess I just don't trust other people's lists, and mine wouldn't stay still long enough to be useful. So, happy reading, no matter what kid's book you pick up. But if you do find a good one, be sure and let me know.

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