For August, I am highlighting childhood favorite books. PASE (the Partnership for After School Education) intern fellows are working with the St. Nicks Alliance education team this summer, and I asked them to review their favorite childhood book for our readers. A good throwback story helps us to gear up for the new school year! I hope these childhood favorite recommendations bring joy and fond memories.
By Jon Sziescka
(For readers preschool–2nd grade)
Laura Ennis, Education Manager reviews her favorite childhood book
Jon Sciescka’s Math Curse is a wonderful book for your child who hates math, or for your child on the opposite end of the spectrum who loves math. The narrator of Math Curse sees everything as a math problem after her teacher announces, “You know, you can think of almost everything as a math problem.” Our hero is then stuck in a perpetual state of math problems. Scieszka uses wit to describe the steps out of the curse. Math Curse was one of my favorite books as a child because I struggled with math, and this book makes light of a subject that can be painful for many children. I featured this book back in 2017, and it returns again because it was my favorite book as a child.
Clifford, The Big Red Dog
By Norman Bridwell
(For readers in Preschool – Third Grade)
William Stephens, PASE Intern Fellow, Bucknell ‘21 reviews his favorite childhood book
In this classic 1963 children’s book Norman Bridwell lays the groundwork for the Clifford the Big Red Dog series that continues today and inspired its own TV show. In this story, follow Emily Elizabeth as she tells us about her unique pet, Clifford the Big Red Dog. We see various fun situations and incurring unanticipated consequences. Overall, this story is a great first book in the series, and helps give insight into the work that it takes to own a dog, as well as loving animals and people despite their differences and unique traits, even when they cause some trouble. Altogether, this is one of my favorite stories from my own childhood, due to its colorful, fun story and message. Furthermore, it is just a fun short story for younger kids, that teaches kids about the struggles of owning a dog, as well as loving animals and people despite their differences, good or bad.
(For readers Kindergarten +)
Alysa Chen, PASE Intern Fellow, Vassar ’23 reviews her favorite childhood book
Like many of his contributions to children’s literature, Dr. Seuss’s 1971 classic, The Lorax, is a brilliant and timeless book. Today, this book emerges as a timely reflection of our current climate crisis. Seuss’s amusing rhymes fuse with his enigmatic illustrations, this powerful tale of fiction attempts to tackle the problem of environmental destruction and human greed by introducing the Lorax character, a selfless and courageous yellow-bearded environmentalist. Though this book ends with the tragic destruction of the Lorax’s habitat, Dr. Seuss ends with a hopeful call to action. “UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not,” the famous quote goes. This book stands alone from all other childhood books I’ve read because of the sheer amount of times I’ve quoted that last page in my environmental activism work. This book is a perfect read for people of all ages—saving the environment can start at any age.