Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

The Dog Days & Children’s Classics



Hello Friends and Happy August!

If you’ve been following Pages and Paws for any length of time – say, 20 minutes or so – you know that Her Momness sometimes says weird stuff about books. (Don’t tell her I said that, okay?)

Sometimes Mom’ll read a “best-seller” that’s topping the charts and go, “Aaaarg! Barf-o-rama and gag me with Meow Mix! Bleeeech and double bleech!!” And sometimes she’ll read an obscure-ish book by an unknown indie author and chirp, “Why isn’t this magnum opus in every library, on every shelf, and in every bookstore in America and the whole world included?! Cuz it’s Seriously Awesome!”

The Children’s Section

Well. You know Mom. (Insert eye roll here.)

She also thinks some of the best writing and coolest stories around can be found in the Children’s Section of the local library. (Not sure what that says about Mom. Can I get back to you on that?)

Pop Quiz!

Anywho, Mom was lumbering back from The Book Place the other day with her usual truckload of To Be Reads. All from the Children’s Section. I’m not making this up. Then she decides it’s time for a Pop Quiz. Like this:

“Okay, Kimmi. What children’s classic opens with these lines”:

“The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning… the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. … These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after.”

Hint: First published in 1975, Harper’s dubbed this book “Probably the best work of our best children’s novelist.”

Okay, friends. What’s the title? (No fair Googling. You either know it or you don’t).

Like Coming Home

Re-reading that old favorite got us to thinking. Mom and I, we love Summer Reading Programs. A large chunk of our Summer Reading Program is devoted to revisiting old favorites from children’s literature.

It’s like coming home.

Perennial Faves

Here are some of our perennial favorites, in no particular order. How many do you remember? What would you add?

  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Road Dahl
  • Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak
  • Old Yeller – Fred Gipson
  • The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis
  • King of the Wind and Brighty of the Grand Canyon – Margeurite Henry
  • The Island of the Blue Dolphins – Scott O’Dell
  • The Tales of Peter Rabbit – Beatrix Potter
  • Peter Pan – J.M. Barrie
  • The Incredible Journey – Sheila Burnford
  • Born Free – Joy Adamson
  • The Silver Brumby series -Elyne Mitchell
  • The Little Engine That Could – Watty Piper
  • The Little House books – Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • The Ransom of Red Chief – O. Henry
  • Black Beauty – Anna Sewell
  • The Wizard of Oz -L. Frank Baum
  • Inkheart – Cornelia Funke
  • Where the Red Fern Grows – Wilson Rawls
  • Gentle Ben – Walt Morey
  • My Side of the Mountain – Jean Craighead George
  • Because of Winn- Dixie – Kate DiCamillo


Also most anything by Virginia Lee Burton, A.A. Milne, Gary Paulsen, H.A. Rey, Dr. Seuss, Judith Viorst, or E.B. White. So many more.

As for that “dog days of summer” thing? I’m thinking if those days are combined with great children’s books, then they’re the best days of the whole season! Arf! Arf!

What book(s) from yesteryear say “welcome home” to you?

Books loved anyone who opened them, they gave you security and friendship and didn’t ask anything in return; they never went away, never, not even when you treated them badly.” – Cornelia Funke, Inkheart


This post first appeared here in August 2021. We thought it was time for an encore!

6 thoughts on “The Dog Days & Children’s Classics

  1. That is one of the best openings in a book ever. “Tuck Everlasting.” Though my advice to your readers is to stick to the book because I think the movie is awful. As you would say, “Bleeeech and double bleech!!” As for “welcome home,” it’s going to be “Tom Sawyer.” My brother, Patrick, read me that book when I was four or five. He’d come home from school, and we’d sit on the steps and he’d read. I’ve loved books ever since. I think it was the first book he ever read. He was eight.

    • I agree. The movie was disappointing, to put it charitably. I need to re-read Mark Twain and Tom, Huck, and Becky, etc. It’s been too long!

  2. I keep thinking about your question and have realized there are dozens of books from my childhood that say, “Welcome home.” Books like “Heidi” and “Little Women.” How sad that most of the children I know are glued to video games and don’t read unless a teacher forces them to. They are missing out on so many wonderful stories.

  3. What a wonderful post. I know that I don’t read children’s books much anymore. My kids are grown, and I don’t have grandchildren, but I never thought of just reading them for my own pleasure.

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