I have two answers for this. One is my favorite book that I remember from childhood, and one is my favorite children’s book that I still read.
The first one is Oh Say Can You Say. I pretty much love all things Dr. Suess (see? I’ve always had a thing for a Doctor!), but this one stands out as my favorite childhood book. I still have some of the poems memorized, like the one about the Fuddnuddler brothers, who like to pile each on the heads of the others…
Of course, if you ask my mother, she’d probably tell you my favorite is The Cat in the Hat. According to her, I had it memorized by the age of 4, but just because she had read it to me so many times that I memorized the words, not that I was actually able to read the words.
I don’t remember that far back, so who knows? I mean, it’s a good book, but I don’t like it as much as I like the other one. But I’ve always been a sucker for a good tongue twister.
That’s my favorite childhood book, but I have a favorite “children’s book” that I love even more. It’s the only book I reread on a regular basis. As much as I love Ayn Rand, I don’t reread her stuff on a regular basis. I save her for when I need something very specific that this other book just won’t cover.
But this book, I have read so many times that the book will open to my favorite short story sections all on it’s own. And there are plenty of story options!
My favorite book of all time is The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling.
My favorite story from the book is “How Fear Came to the Jungle,” and it’s the story of how the Tiger got his stripes by being marked for a shameful act. It’s a wonderfully mythic story to explain how the peoples (animals) of the Jungle went from being in a state of harmony in paradise to grouping off and being separate. It describes why the Tiger is so prideful and why one tiger in particular, Shere Khan, is so adamant on killing Mowgli.
I also really enjoy the story of Rikki Tikki Tavi, the mongoose, although I think my love of the story comes more from the movie I saw when I was a wee little thing running around the house. I think I wore that VHS out.
There’s a dozen other stories that I love from that book. Of course, I’ve also already discussed the (possible) psychological reasons for liking this book having to do with my own adoption and feeling like Mowgli, as in being both of my family and not.
On another side, I also really enjoy the writing style. While I know I write with a more conversational tone (especially on here), I like the more poetic tone of Kipling’s style. Of course, that could have something to do with the age of the book. It was written at a time when it was mandatory to have an elevated vocabulary with a stronger focus on the sensory details. Plus, there are poems throughout that tell the Law of the Jungle between stories such as this little tidbit:
“These are the four that are never content: that have never been filled since the dew began-
Jacala’s mouth, and the glut of the kite, and the hands of the ape, and the eyes of Man.”
― Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Books
Of course, if we look at Dr. Seuss as my original book love, the love for the sound of the words makes sense. I really love language and words and how they fit together. It’s why I chose to teach English as opposed to something more practical, like math, which I do happen to be good at–though I will deny it if you asked me in public.
It’s the words that I love.