View Full Version : Books for kids

03-03-2001, 04:22 PM
I read to my two boys every night. I just finshed Tolkein's Lord of the Rings Triology.
We've read alot: Captain Courageous, Tresure Island, Narina Chronicles. Our local library is limited, but interlibrary loan is the best thing since sliced bread. Any suggestions for good books? My boys, age 11 and 6, may not want me to read to them in the years ahead- so I want to take advantage now.

By the way - a "boat book" would be great.

[This message has been edited by TomFF (edited 03-03-2001).]

03-03-2001, 04:25 PM
Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons

03-03-2001, 04:32 PM
i second thad's suggestion, my girls are growing up on arthur ransome's tomes. my 12-year-old has fallen in love with the sea stories of capt. frederick marryat, with a bit of a nudge from dad. "the wind in the willows," "alice in wonderland," madeleine l'engle's "wrinkle in time" series, ursula leguin's "earthsea" trilogy. also, and i admit i'm a bit of an odd father, reading "moby dick" and any other book you feel they should be exposed to, can't be beat. i read shakespeare to my girls, they love it, especially if you can get into acting out "richard III," hunchback and all...

Ed Harrow
03-03-2001, 05:25 PM
Narnia Chronicles, Is that the boxed set of seven or so? If not, that is a good read.

Possibly some O'Brian stuff, Farley Mowat (several books by him) Maiden Voyage by Tania Aebi, Slocum, My Old Man and the Sea, Hays & Hays, The Making of a Sailor, FP Harlow, Let the Best Boat Win, biography of Herreshoffs aimed at the younger set. May be out of print. Oh, I think this is out of print, also, Half Safe. Do a search in Inet. After WWII some people traveled considerable distance, I thought around the world, but no, in either a DUCK or an amphibious Jeep. The vehicle is now somewhere in Australia. I read this eons ago, but I think they'd enjoy it. Another book, not nautical - Superpower. This book is about the designing and building of a steam locomotive, a Hudson (4-6-4) if I remember correctly. GREAT art work, and a nice story line. The main charecter, if not the loco, is a boy transitioning from school to life.

How could I forget! Firt You Have to Row a Little Boat by Bode. Perhaps Wanderer by Hayden.

[This message has been edited by Ed Harrow (edited 03-03-2001).]

03-03-2001, 06:44 PM
Start them on Arthur Ramsome's "Swallows and Amazons" immediately; these are best possible books for that age range, wonderfully well written, and there are 12 of them! OBTW, get the hardbacks, not the paperbacks; the illustrations are not correctly reproduced in the paperbacks.

If they already know Treasure Island, they are halfway there already, because there are references to it by the characters.

Steve Souther
03-03-2001, 07:03 PM
"Summerfolk" is a great boat book! I don't remember the author, though. It was the all-time favorite with my kids.

ken mcclure
03-03-2001, 07:36 PM
Undoubtedly, Harry Potter should be on the list.

Robinson Crusoe. Any of the Edgar Rice Burroughs original Tarzan books. The whole Little House series.

As for boats, dig through the bookstore and look for one of the "survivor" type books. There are a couple compilations of survival tales that are kind of 'condensed' versions versus the long ones. The longer first person tales might be a little heavy on psychology and detail for the youngsters.

O'Brien would be a little hard for them, but the Alexander Kent books may fit the bill. Jack London's "Sea Wolf" is a little heavy but an old favorite. Come to think of it, "Call of the Wild" and "White Fang" are sure winners.

Ah. Here it is. I ran over to the shelf, and sure enough it's there.... "Survivor" by Michael Greenwald, Blue Horizons Press, San Diego, CA 619-222-8254. See if the WoodenBoat bookstore has it or can get it. Almost 600 pages in my hardcover version, with pictures and illustrations throughout.

Jim Moore's books "By Way of the Wind" and "Swan, the Second Voyage" - Hal Roth's books.......I'm having a fit. Gotta stop and go read something.......

03-03-2001, 08:43 PM
You're only halfway there... the trick is to get into books on cassette while you're driving places, this keeps the kids from wanting to play the over-produced garbage on the radio that all the rest of the kids at school are listening to. Get E.B. White reading Charlotte's Web and The Trumpet of the Swan, or Artie? from Laugh-in reading Around the World in Eighty Days. Great Great Great! Kipling's Mowgli story is also rousing. This beats listening to Brittany Spears any day of the week!These and other greats should be available through inter-library loan. Also, in print try Sailing on the Ice by C.A. Stephens, wonderful tales of Maine country life in the 1800's.

Ron Williamson
03-03-2001, 09:55 PM
We are currently enjoying Kipling's"Just So Stories" with minor sanitization.

03-03-2001, 11:26 PM
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle...
The Sherlock Holmes pieces are great, but so are his other works. The Lost World is good, regardless of what UPN has done to it.

Take Care.


Mike Field
03-04-2001, 07:24 AM
I definitely agree with Thad and ACB. Get them going on Arthur Ransome straight away. Start with the first -- Swallows & Amazons -- then just continue chronologically till you finish.

If your kids are like me, they'll want to start the whole series again within a year or two, and there's a very good chance they'll go on reading and enjoying them all their lives. (I myself read the whole series about every two years, as I have since I first discovered them something like forty years ago.)

From your point of view as a parent, the nice thing is that they'll listen or later read them themselves, purely for enjoyment. They're wonderful stories. But all the time they'll be learning -- primarily about sailing and other outdoor activities, but also about independence and self-reliance in general, plus a good deal about socialisation with others as well.

Unlike almost every other adult writer of children's books, Ransome had the ability to write for children at their level -- and that's why, three-quarters of a century after the books were first written, he can still be (and regularly is) voted the best children's author.

While I agree that the illustrations in the paperback versions are necessarily not as good as in the hard-covers, I really don't think it matters a great deal. However, most of the books have maps which can be a little difficult to read in the paperbacks.

Arthur Ransome, Tom. And now. Have I put it strongly enough?

Bruce Taylor
03-04-2001, 07:30 AM
Hi this is Eli, Bruce's son. I thought the 11 year old might want to read the Xanth novels. You can find them at a lot of second hand bookstores or you might want to try The Golden Compass series.

03-04-2001, 07:53 AM
Eli, my daughter, sophie, says to second your "Golden Compass" suggestion...

Ian Wright
03-04-2001, 07:59 AM
Another vote for Arthur Ransome, read all twelve in order,,,, but you could intersperse the Hornblower books (not O'Brion, kids spot padding and pedantry straight away), Treasure Island, Anything by Kipling but "Kim" is first choice for me.
that should get you through 'till summer,,,,,,,,


03-04-2001, 10:11 AM
Surprising this hasn't made the list yet, but it's got to be said... "Captains Courageous" by Kilpling. Another one of those books I read every couple years whether I need it or not http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif


Ed Harrow
03-04-2001, 05:41 PM
So many books, so little time. How I treasure the time I spent reading with my daughter. Even books like The Best Nest or Are You My Mother? - over and over and over again.

Mike Field
03-04-2001, 06:05 PM
Ed, what about "Horton Hatches The Egg" -- one of our all-time favourites, which I now know pretty-well by heart....

John B
03-04-2001, 11:50 PM
I was reading Hornblower and Swallows and Amazons myself at that age 11...12 or so. Every few years I'll pick em up and refresh my memory.Hornblower is harder to find now.
Has anyone mentioned Robinson Crusoe or
Jules Verne 20000 leagues.
Moby Dick is a must.
R.M Ballantyne.... what did he write? Pirates/treasure
Mark Twain is a given. Reading 101.

[This message has been edited by John B (edited 03-04-2001).]

03-04-2001, 11:56 PM
Hey thanks for the suggestions. I will try to get some of these at the library.

All my kids love to read. My six year just became an officail independent reader. It means he can read first grade level on his own. He's pretty jazzed about it.

Thanks again- and to you younger Dads out there. This is a great investment. Read on.

Gib Sosman
03-05-2001, 03:03 AM
Hi Tom,

Well, I guess I'll put my 2 dozen cents in.

Recently, I knew I had to get my little boy some books and start reading more to him. Why? Because one night I asked him if he knew the story of Robin Hood, and he said "Oh yeah, Dad, he's that FOX!" Ah, the Disneyfication of literature... how they butcher the old stories sometimes. Walt must be rolling in agony in his grave... but that is another subject.
When I was a boy my favorites were

The Hardy boys books
The Mother West Wind books by Thornton W. Burgess
All the books in the Freddy the Pig series by Walter R. Brooks

Various books by Cousteau and also the books of (Admiral) Edward Ellsberg, the submarine salvage man. You can find "On the Bottom",(about the salvage of the S-51) which is out of print, on line at http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/military_veterans/7023

I discovered Alan Villers much later, in my thirties, but he has at least one novel about or for kids- maybe it is The Great Grain Race... anyway, Villiers wrote a lot of very good books, mostly non-fiction, I think...... although his books are not "children's books" per se.

Two Years Before the Mast- probably you would want an abridged version for the kids although an eleven year old might be able to really enjoy the unabridged. I am 51 and I keep reading that book over and over and it gets better every time.
In case no one has already mentioned it above- Nordhoff and Hall with the Bounty trilogy and Botany Bay.
Captain Bligh's own book about the mutiny.
How about the one- I think it was called "The Strange Voyage of Donald Crowhurst"... that is one heck of a sea story.

Holdfast Gaines by Odell and Willard Shepard. Gets my vote for The Great American Novel. It begins just before the Battle of Fort Griswold so the first couple of hundred pages take place in the Thames valley: Gungywamp, New London, Groton, Fort Shantok and Uncasville, just before and after Benedict Arnold's troops burned New London. And he was a Norwich native. (Arnold, not Shepard; Shepard lived in Waterford, I think) Holdfast Gaines is the book that really set me up for a lifelong love of history- because although fictional, the book seems to be very accurate with its facts, unlike some historical novels whose authors put their own words into the mouths of real historical figures just a little too much.

I just bought a set of twelve volumes called My Book House, edited by Olive Beaupre Miller, in an ebay auction. My mother used to read us the stories from those books, night after night, year after year. I think it is about the best anthology of literature ever done, made for a whole range of kids from toddlers to teenagers; and the art is plentiful, and beautifully done. If you can find a set of My Book House, your kids might like that. My son is in the first stages of reading and now if I can only pull him away from the Nintendo and the computer, he and I could read stories from the Book House books. I keep telling him that "The Legend of Zelda" and many other video and computer games were developed from all these old folk tales and legends and history in all the stories in My Book House.
Because of all the modern multimedia, it's much more of a challenge in 2001 than it was in 1955 to keep kids interested in reading. Although I partly recoil in revulsion from the Harry Potter phenomenon, at least it is getting kids to read and not sit in front of the tube all day.
Oh- another two of my favorite kid's books:
Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright, and The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.
There was mention of Narnia above. Also recommended is the trilogy by C S Lewis- Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. 11 year old is probably too young for those books but they had a big impact on me... i guess I read them in high school or shortly therafter. In a way, the Lewis trilogy is to the Narnia series as the Tolkien trilogy is to The Hobbit.
And don't forget Walden. I read it at 14 or 15- and it made a huge impression. but not really a kid's book or a seafaring book.
Shackleton's Valiant Voyage by Alfred Lansing. I read it some years ago and as I remember, it was aimed at younger readers.
And don't forget Youth, by Joseph Conrad. the story of the coal carrier that leaked, so they had to pump it out all the time, but the coal spontaneously combusted from being packed and wet and then they had to pump all the water back INTO the ship... great story.
Thor Heyerdahl's books, especially Aku-Aku and of course Kon-Tiki.
Alone Through the Roaring Forties by Vito Dumas.
Along the Clipper Way by Sir Francis Chichester. It is a super book and can be read in small bites.... lots of sea tales of all kinds of excerpts from lots of authors.
And how could I forget Trekka Round the World by John Guzzwell?
And last but not least, Peter Freuchen's Book of the Seven Seas.

Scott Mason
03-05-2001, 10:38 AM
Hi Tom!

My 7-year old son votes for the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. It was a sad day in our house when the series was finished .... but the author is still writing them.


Steve Souther
03-05-2001, 11:00 AM
This is one thread worth saving. One book that is a classic from the 19th Century and still a great read for kids is "At the Back of the North Wind" by George MacDonald.

Alan D. Hyde
03-05-2001, 11:02 AM
In addition to "Treasure Island," I'd recommend "Kidnapped," and its lesser-known sequel "David Balfour." Robert Louis Stevenson is an excellent author, now out-of-favor with trendy college English professors, but regarded by Borges as one of the best English novelists.


Art Read
03-05-2001, 01:17 PM
Mike... Whenever one of my sister's begins to act a bit "self indulgently", she is soon refered to by all and sundry in our family as "Maisey Bird"... Good stuff, the good Dr...

Ian Wright
03-05-2001, 01:27 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by John B:
R.M Ballantyne.... what did he write?

Yes, Coral Island, another goodie,,,,,


03-05-2001, 01:52 PM
Admittedly they're not nautical, but how could you miss Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh corner?

And then there's Huckleberry Finn, for on-the-water fun.

03-06-2001, 02:44 AM
Well, I just asked Alex, age six, and he says, "Stories from the Bible, espescially Jonah and the Whale (just because that was last night's!) Also "Orlando the Marmalade Cat" and "Tim and Charlotte and Ginger" and "Babar the Elephant".

"Orlando the Marmalade Cat" is a wonderful series of large, beautifully drawn, picture books by Kathleen Hale.

"Tim and Charlotte" - Edward Ardizzone's equally beautifully drawn stories about Tim running away to sea on small steamers.

"Babar the Elephant" by Jean de Brunhoff is better known I think.

[This message has been edited by ACB (edited 03-06-2001).]

Ross Faneuf
03-06-2001, 09:37 AM
The TinTin series. Also check out the 7 books in the 'Dark is Rising' series by Susan Cooper.

Ken Hall
03-06-2001, 10:26 AM
I haven't read it myself, but I've seen Carry On, Mr. Bowditch in the youth section of my local library branch and I think it has a good reputation.

I have good memories of Johnny Tremain (okay, not boaty but you get the picture). Also A Wrinkle In Time (Madeline L'Engle) for the 11-12-year old set. If the kids like animals, Black Beauty is a good choice.

Just bought Gerald McBoing Boing for my 2-year old son. http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif When he's a little older and ready to sit through longer sessions without pictures I'll start him on The Hobbit.


Alan D. Hyde
03-06-2001, 11:53 AM
"Carry On Mr. Bowditch," by Jean Lee Latham was around when I was a boy. I liked it, and my own children liked it.

It's a good book. After they read it, they sometimes spend awhile leafing around in my "American Practical Navigator." The pictures of various sea-states are always popular.

Esther Forbes, the author of "Johnny Tremain," also wrote a good book on "Paul Revere and His Times." David Hackett Fisher's books are also excellent. "Paul Revere's Ride" could be gotten through by a bright child, but "Albion's Seed" might be too much for many.


Ed Harrow
03-06-2001, 01:42 PM
Tom (and others) this is a great source for kids books: http://www.chinaberry.com/

10-18-2004, 09:43 AM
Some of the suggestions above would be too old for the six year old. For him:

Anything by Thorton Burgess

The four books by A.A. Milne: "When We Were Very Young", "Now We Are Six", "Winnie the Pooh", and "The House at Pooh Corner". I prefer to stay away from any of the Disney versions. When my son was about that age I didn't think he would care for the first two since they are poetry, but he did.

For your eleven year old:

Anything by Arthur Ransom

"The Chronicals of Narnia"

Kipling's two "Jungle" books

Alan D. Hyde
10-18-2004, 10:53 AM
An old childrens' book from the 1950's Maria Mitchell, Girl Astronomer by Grace Hathaway Melin, continues to be a good read.

Catriona, published in the U.S. as David Balfour, is the sequel to Kidnapped, and is one of Robert Louis Stevenson's best books.

Another good Stevenson book, not seen so often now, is The Black Arrow.


[ 10-18-2004, 11:53 AM: Message edited by: Alan D. Hyde ]

10-18-2004, 11:14 AM
Beverly Cleary books are great for kids (Ramona the Brave, et al)

Heck, your 11-year-old is ready for Harry Potter, no?

Sam F
10-18-2004, 03:47 PM
Jim Davis by John Masefield (the fellow who wrote the poem "Sea Fever")
Recently re-issued as "Jim Davis a High Seas Adventure"
My kids adored it just as I did years ago.
Amazon' s copy (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0439404363/qid=1098131585/sr=2-3/ref=pd_ka_b_2_3/103-8658398-8578235)

imported_Steven Bauer
10-18-2004, 10:33 PM
ahp, the 6 year old is probably almost 10 by now. smile.gif Great thread!
For the younger ones: McCloskey's "Burt Dow, Deep Water Man".


[ 10-18-2004, 11:34 PM: Message edited by: Steven Bauer ]