Books Your Children Will Love

An illustration from Elsa Beskow's "Peter in Blueberry Land."

An illustration from Elsa Beskow's "Peter in Blueberry Land."

One of my favorite family rituals when my children were younger was reading bedtime stories, particularly the books of author and illustrator Elsa Beskow, who until her death in 1953 was Sweden’s Beatrix Potter.

Scandinavian folk culture is steeped in trolls and fairies and other magical beings that have an intimate connection to the natural world. Beskow’s books are so delightful because they celebrate this childlike perspective. Wood sprite children ride in boats with maple leaf sails; others wear caps made from blueberries or mushrooms. They create mischief and have grand adventures and get in old-fashioned trouble with their parents.


Beskow’s books have also influenced the way I design clothing for Papo d’Anjo. The children in her illustrations wear outfits that are romantic without being fussy and include pinafores and shirts with Peter Pan collars–all Papo standards.  Her illustrations also rely heavily on flowers and other things found in nature, which is very in keeping with the gorgeous Liberty prints produced especially for us.

I love all of Beskow’s books, but my family’s favorites include Children of the Forest, Peter in Blueberry Land, The Sun Egg, and The Flowers’ Festival.

What are your family’s favorite children’s books? Please send your recommendations.

8 Responses to “Books Your Children Will Love”

  1. 1 Rebecca Gacek October 26, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Hello again to my favorite websites-our all time favorites are Winnie-the-Pooh and Grimm’s fairytales-my husband is English and, though American my grandfather was born in Stockholm, Sweden-thus our two choices. Also the Tin tin books for older children run through all of our English side as absolute favorites.

  2. 2 Meredith October 27, 2009 at 2:54 am

    I love to share this same sweet book with our daughter Elise, and love dressing her in round collared blouses and tiny prints for the very same reason. Thank you for continuing to inspire!

    We also love all the old Golden Books illustrated by Eloise Wilkin for the same innocent quality.

  3. 3 Carol October 27, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    Dear Catherine, Thank you for your wonderful clothing and your blog. I look forward to each new posting and enjoy sharing them with friends, yet this is my first reply. I have enjoyed reading all of Robert McCloskey’s books to my two sons. A native Midwesterner and adopted New Englander, McCloskey is a true classic American writer and illustrator. His books, including “Make Way for Ducklings”, “One Morning in Maine”, and our favorite, “Blueberries for Sal”, convey the beauty and grace of simple, every day life in America. His work is a reminder of how to live simply but beautifully by marveling at the beauty of every day adventures. These are the very same qualities that I think of when I dress my sons in your classic clothing. Thank you to you and your wonderful team for your lovely clothing, your impeccable customer service, and your beautifully produced catalog and web site. Sincerely, Carol, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

  4. 4 Elizabeth October 27, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    I’ve loved reading Roald Dahl books with my kids. They really enjoy his rather dark opinions about the behavior of adults! E.B. White books are beautiful and tenderhearted. More contemporary favorites include the Magic Tree House series.

  5. 5 Polly November 1, 2009 at 5:10 am

    Both of our children developed a love of reading and have also become excellent students because we read quality children’s literature to them from the moment they were born. Good books enrich children’s lives. I encourage parents to seek out the true classics, such as Pooh series, Robert Louis Stevenson, Ludwig Bemmelmans, Shirley Hughes, Ferdinand, Mother Goose, Margaret Wise Brown, Curious George, James Goodall, Kenneth Grahame, The Boxcar Children, Eleanor Estes, Louis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, N.C. Wyeth illustrated classics such Kidnapped, Treasure Island, David Balfour, The Black Arrow, Roger Lancelyn Green, Anne of Green Gables, a series called The Chalet School Girls, Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Hardy Boys (important to find original versions here), Roald Dahl (a true master, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise), a book of Bible stories written for children, James Herriot, everything by Marguerite Henry, all of the original Oz books, Black Beauty, Peter Pan, Little Women, Robinson Crusoe, the Just So stories, A Christmas Carol, The Happy Prince, The American Boy’s/Girl’s Handy Book, Little Women, etc., The Yearling, Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, a selected Treasury of Classic Children’s Literature compiled by William F. Buckley, jr., The Moral Compass stories compiled by William J. Bennett, and whatever quality American history stories you can find–Lynne Cheney writes nice ones for youngsters. The important thing is to never, ever buy abridged copies of anything. Trust that your children are smart enough to understand the vocabulary and original texts. We also had a great children’s dictionary that was wonderful reading on its own. I apologize for the length of this post–books are an important part of our family’s life, and I am convinced that reading happy, nurturing, challenging, beautifully written and beautifully illustrated children’s books is what helps children grow up happy and well-adjusted, not to mention smart. The words and images you “feed” them as young children will provide them with a strong imagination, good heart, intellect/vocabulary, and happy memories as young adults. When we weren’t reading, we played outdoors. I hope this helps some young moms and dads out there!

    • 6 papodanjo November 2, 2009 at 1:56 am

      Thank you so much for taking the time to put together such an extensive list. I sincerely appreciate everyone’s suggestions and am sure that the collective wisdom of our readers will be a great resource on this and other topics.

  6. 7 CAC November 4, 2009 at 3:20 am

    My little boy is a picky eater and the book “I’d Really Like to Eat a Child” is a favorite. The illustrations are very sweet and the content is helpful to any parent trying to get their child to eat new foods.

    Also, “Knufflebunny” and “Edwina” are favorites of my 2 and 5 year old. Mo Willems has a magical, silly way of telling a story.

    My children also love “The Sun Egg” and “The Forest Children”. As Catherine mentioned, they are beautifully illustrated and written.

    Thank you Papo d’Anjo for provding me with an extrodanary option in children’s clothing. I look forward to my order every season!

  7. 8 HHSA November 9, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    regarding: best all-time children’s books:

    I nominate: Anything written or illustrated by the incomparable (recently departed) Tasha Tudor! She is an American Elsa Beskow, her sensibility entirely shaped by rural New England in the 1840s and her love of goats, dolls, candle light, and corgis (“A amall dog the color of foxes. They are enchanted. You need only to see them by moonlight to know this.”) Her illustrations for The Secret Garden and Little Princess and Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Childs Garden of Verses are timeless, but it is her work involving her own menagerie of goats and dogs as models that are most magical. See especially: her version of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, and of course, our family’s favorite, much dog-eared and tattered and drooled on: Corgiville Fair.

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