I had several favourites (at different stages) when I was a child and I've found a few of them to read to my son.
These are my favourites:
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Bears in the Night The Monster at the End of This Book
Joined: Mar 25, 2001
One of my favorites was Hello, Aurora by Anne-Catharina Vestly. It's the first (and the best, in my opinion) in a series of books by a Norwegian author. The English translation is somewhat rare but findable.
It's the story of a family in the pre-fab knockup suburbs of Oslo, in which the mother works as a lawyer and the father, a doctoral student in Greek history, stays home and cares for Aurora and her infant brother Socrates.
It all seemed terribly exotic to me as a child.
I gave my copy to the public library as a teenager. Years later, when my wife and I were moving from Washington, DC, one item on our "10 things to do in DC before moving away" list was to go to the Library of Congress and read all the books in the series they had in the collection.
I later found out that before the Library of Congress excursion, my wife had tried to track down a copy through some used book dealers, with no luck. Just a couple years ago, through the wonders of Amazon, I think, and with little effort, she got me copies of the books as a Christmas gift.
Joined: Mar 25, 2001
The Daddy Types blog is currently listing bizarre children's books, with reviews submitted by readers.
Just So Stories by Rudyard Kippling has been one of my favorites for quite a long time so far.
There you will find great stories that are simply magical, like How the Leopard got its spots and The Beggining of the Armadillos.
Give it a try, you will not regret it.
Now, depending on the your country you may find very good local authors. In my country (Costa Rica) we had an excellent author called Carmen Lyra. She wrote Tales of Aunt Panchita. It is one of my favorites. Most of the stories are hilarious and they tell the mischieves of Uncle Rabbit, by far, the wittiest of all rabbits I have ever read about. Uncle Rabbit is always playing dirty tricks on Uncle Coyote and Uncle Tiger, and these latter are always looking for ways to pay him back, but Uncle Rabbit is too smart for them. You've got a read it, if you ever can grasp a copy of it, it is indeed hilarious, and kids over here love it. [ June 30, 2006: Message edited by: Edwin Dalorzo ]
author and iconoclast
I've got an eight year old daughter and a 2.5 year old son right now, and so I'm reading the whole gamut of children's literature. My daughter and I love Roald Dahl, many of whose books I also read and loved as a child. Besides the well-known things like the "Chocolate Factory" books and "James and the Giant Peach," he's written dozens of lesser-known works which are equally amusing. "The Enormous Crocodile," "The Twits," and "Fantastic Mr. Fox" are three we've especially enjoyed. We also both love the Junie B. Jones books, which are much more recent.
Zachary loves Curious George, which I also enjoyed. Beside the half-dozen originals, there's a whole series of high-quality books made from a series of Curious George films edited by Margaret Rey, making them at least marginally canon. I can't describe to you how overjoyed he was when the Curious George movie came out earlier this year; but he's not one of these Johnny-come-lately movie fanbois -- he's hard core. There's also a recent author named Jez Alborough whom we both especially like; he's written many books, but "Duck in a Truck" and "Tall" are standouts.
As far as particular favorites from my own very early life, the original "Little Golden Book" edition of "Over in the Meadow" is something I'm happy to be able to share with Zach.
I just read "Whales on Stilts" by M.T. Anderson. More or less, it's a sendup of the Hardy Boys genre. It's hysterical. Also it contains a nice allusion to Faulkner's, "As I Lay Dying", which I'm betting most 8 year-olds don't pick up on.
Thirty-some years ago, I had a Hallmark Pop-Up book called Astronauts on the Moon: The Story of the Apollo Moon Landings by Stanley Hendricks and Al Muenchen. I have no idea what happened to my old one, so I recently bought a nice copy on eBay. (The secret to eBay's success: Re-purchasing childhoods, one item at a time.) The book had an original cover price of $3.50, but to find one now with all the pop-ups still in great shape... Well, it was worth it.
"We're kind of on the level of crossword puzzle writers... And no one ever goes to them and gives them an award." ~Joe Strummer sscce.org
"No Room For a Sneeze!" The tale of a large family in a small house. The dad asks the village wise man (a hippie with a chicken nesting in his hair) for a solution. The hippie tells him to move the cow into the house. The dad protests, but the wise man waves him off .... The next day the dad comes back and says things are worse, the wise man tells him to move the geese into the house .... the next day it's the goats ... the next day it's a stranger from the village ... etc. one day, the dad comes and he is so miserable that he cannot speak. The wise man instructs him to move all the animals and the stranger back to where they were before. And sure enough, the house seems enormous ....
(I suppose the harry potter books aren't a good fit here?)