My Kindergarten Bookshelf


Alternative title: Picture Books to Raise a Child Like Me

When I was a young girl my bookshelf was an open night table with one shelf. It was painted a very Goodnight Moon-lurid red brown and it’s now used to house some of Mom’s textiles in the nursery-turned-‘sewing room’.
You know, I never really realized until now that I had a nursery. I moved out of a smaller bedroom into the room I’m currently in now because I was getting to big for the first one. I think that makes it a nursery? How weird.

I remember the books I liked best very well. Partly because I only recently managed to let go of them and partly because I’ve rebought some of my old favorites. Because you never know when you’re going to up and have a baby, and you never know when said baby will demand reading material.

  • Wild in the City: I think we picked this up at one of the nature preserves we visited all the time (Probably Ipswich or Garden in the Woods), back when I hated hikes and I was young enough for my parents to make me do the things I’ve hated (Now I’m 22 and I’m never going to the doctor again!). It follows all of the different animal life around a city block- complete with adorable raccoons, skunks, prowling cats, and toads.
  • Animalia: This is probably the greatest alphabet book ever and may also be the reason I look words so much. It’s magnificently, baroquely illustrated and the idea is to find as many objects on a page that begin with the letter in question. Also there’s a guy in a striped shirt who is fun to look for. Probably some distant relative of Waldo with similar fashion sense.
  • Owl Moon: A book about a girl and her Dad going out looking for owls. It’s absolutely beautiful and reminds me a lot of my relationship with my own dad (who once woke me up in the middle of the night to see a skunk eating a bagel I had dropped). Incidentally, we saw an owl once on our way to go ice skating on the Boston Common.
  • Farewell to Shady Glade: So apparently I was a liberal tree hugger almost since birth. This story is about a band of animals whose habitat is threatened by encroaching development. They have to decide whether to try to stick it out or leave Shady Glade once and for all. 😥
  • Peter and the Wolf: There’s a pop up book where you can make the wolf grab the goose by the neck. Hours of entertainment.
  • Make Way for Ducklings: Honestly I don’t know if you can grow up in Boston without being extremely familiar with this one. And I’m always surprised that it’s not a much of a classic everywhere.  There are little duckling statues in the Common that we used to ride on when I was in preschool.  (Is this also why Boston has duck boats? What is it with Boston and ducks?)
  • The Great Honey Hunt: I had an old copy of this early Berenstain Bears book- in fact I think I had my Mom’s childhood copy. “Looks so, smells so, tastes so- so’s so!”
  • Annie and the Wild Animals: Annie’s cat goes missing so she attempts to strike up friendships with a diverse array of unsuitable wild companions.

So it would appear that there is a theme- which is that I very much like animals. But then there’s this one book that absolutely blasts the theme to shreds- which perhaps makes it the exception, rather than the rule?

  • The Ballad of the Pirate Queens: Let’s be real. This is girl power at its finest and I can still recite it in its entirety.

The Autumn seas were deep and dark in Port Maria Bay
The tunny fish all leap and sport around the bustling cay
“What news, what news?” The people cry.
“What news bring you to town?”

“The governor has sent his ships to pull the pirates down-
The governor has sent his ships with cannons all a-bristle
and on the silver seas they sail just like a stinging thistle”

And silver the coins, silver the moon
Silver the waves on top of the sea
As the pirate ship comes sailing in
That gallant Vanity.


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