As a children’s librarian, and a former educator, I’ve always carried a list of ‘Bullet Proof Books’ in my head. I believe most people who work with young children, whether in the classroom, a children’s area, or a daycare, have such a list they know by heart. These group of stories have proven, for that librarian or teacher, to be fail-safe, fun, transcend gender and age, and have the same effect as blowing a whistle, or turning the lights on and off, or saying the word ‘PIZZA’ in a crowded classroom. These stories that have the power to re-focus and engage children instantly. They change and update, the stories on this list. New ones are mentally added, others fall off for various reasons. A few, very few, are infinite.
One of these is Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.
It’s a little different than most stories on my Bullet Proof List. While some feature bright pictures with glossy pages, Wild Things and it’s timeless illustrations are earth toned, very much in keeping with the color palette of illustrations from 1963. Unlike some Bullet Proof stories, Wild Things does not boast a repetitive line that children can chime in with page after page.
What Where The Wild Things Are does have is the most universally beloved characters and story I’ve ever read. I’ve read it to a kindergarten class at a private school in Sugar Land as well as a group of inner city children in Southwest Houston. I’ve taken it to small daycares, packed child care centers with children ranging in age from six to twelve, and held one child on my lap as we read together. Age and background are immaterial, for Max is every child. His adventures are everyone’s. We’ve all had tantrums, we’ve all been put, or put ourselves, in time out, we’ve all envisioned a place where we ruled without challenge.
And we’ve all realized how wonderful it is to come back home.
After all these years, that is what this book means to me. No matter when I read it, to whom, or where, it feels like coming home.
~Written by Alma C., Central Library KIDS