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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Aug. 1, 2014

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Maybe not bedtime reading ...
Maybe not bedtime reading ...

Five books I couldn't wait to read to my kids

When my kids were babies, I couldn't wait for them to be old enough to share books that were my childhood favorites.

We had fun reading picture books from "Where The Wild Things Are" to "The Giving Tree" to "The Little Engine That Could," but now that they are older (9 and 10), I'm even more excited by the books I can read to them because they are at the age when I fell deeply in love with reading.

There are so many more titles that they're not quite ready for, but here are five more-or-less-age-appropriate books I've read to the kids in the past year or so.

1. "The Diary of Anne Frank." Probably the most influential book of the kids' lives thus far. We read this book in spring and summer, but we still talk about Anne almost every day.

2. "The Outsiders" by S.E. Hinton. After a brief conversation that smoking is definitely not cool, we launched into this one and devoured it in a week. The timelessness of this story is incredible. I was surprised and thrilled to find out it explores the complexity of being a boy with deep feelings. (I read this years ago and it didn't strike me like it did as the mother of two sons). And I am so glad they are now able to understand references like "Stay gold, Ponyboy" and "let's do it for Johnny."

3. "Pippi Longstocking" by Astrid Lindgren. This was the first chapter book I read to them and Pippi remains a household hero. The kids still ask sometime if they can sleep with their heads at the foot of their bed. I will admit, when I read this book to them after having not read it in decades, I was a bit surprised how mouthy Pippi is, to the point of being kinda obnoxious at times. But ultimately I decided it was OK, considering the princessy, pleasery world our girls have to live in today.

4. "The Gashlycrumb Tinies" by Edward Gorey. "A is for Amy who fell down the stairs..." I was wondering if this morbidly entertaining mock-alphabet book might disturb them a little, but apparently, they share my appreciation-for-creepy gene. We all find it hilarious.

5. "Starring Sally J. Freedman As Herself" by Judy Blume. We actually just started this one. It was a really tough call as to which Blume book to pick – I love them all – but since one kid had already read "Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret" and they aren't quite ready for "Then Again, Maybe I Won't" – I narrowed it down to this title and "Iggie's House." Maybe I'll read Iggie next.

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