Here are what I consider the 5 greatest children’s books that were published in the 1970s. All of them were special to me as a kid and to some extent contributed to who I am. What would your list be?
5. The Sweet Smell of Christmas
Scratch and Sniff! Now can you think of a better way to capture the visceral feel of X-mas then the smell of pine, mint and ginger? Patricia M. Scarry was the genius behind this holiday classic and I say genius, not just because a book that smells like Christmas is a great idea, but also because the smell fades over time, ensuring resales. If I could only make this blog Scratch-N-Sniff.
4. Grandpa’s Ghost Stories
This difficult to find horror-themed book by James Flora, is a 32 page masterpiece filled with ghosts and ghouls, that is perfect for the little haunter in all of us. I would read this book almost every night leading up to Halloween and of course I would think that I saw ghosts everywhere I went. It is the perfect way to show kids that things that go bump in the night aren’t all that scary.
3. Me and My Flying Machine
A kid who builds his own plane and flies from adventure to adventure, winning races and helping people really appealed to me as a kid, but the message in the book goes way beyond “use your imagination”. At the end, the kid takes his flying machine out for a spin and it does not fly, instead it falls apart. He doesn’t get angry or frustrated, he decides tomorrow will be a good day to try building a boat. So if your dreams don’t work out how you hoped that doesn’t mean you should give up. Good stuff!
2. Watch Out! A Giant!
This wonderfully illustrated book by Eric Carle, who also wrote the classic “Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me”, has been described as scary by some. I found the tension of kids being chased by a giant to be wonderful as a kid. The ending made for a fun twist that was a “relief” (it’s imagination of course) and the colorful artwork kept me coming back for more time and again.
1. You Will Go to the Moon
This out-of-print masterpiece by Mae and Ira Freeman challenges a child’s mind with basic science and opens them up to the idea of space exploration. This is the book that taught me that not only is it important that we understand the universe, but that one day those dazzling points of light might be within my reach. I am still waiting to reach the stars, but would have given up a long time ago if it weren’t for “You Will Go to the Moon”.
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