Selected Bibliography

Dedicated to my aunt Danielle

My aunt Danielle is 5 years older than me, so she was essentially my older sister coming up and really looked after me like one. We fought like a brother and sister, she spoiled me like I was a baby, I cut school so we could go to the movies (oops) and she inadvertently introduced me to many facts of life by passing down a collection of books that dealt with issues children and pre-teens faced. Her collection of Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary books were smartly written tales of kids anywhere between my age (4 or 5), her age (11 or 12), their families, and misadventures as they dealt with real-life issues that we face through the years.

At the time it didn't matter that no one in these books looked like us, they were entertaining and enlightening, relevant and a departure from the harsh realities my grandmother worked so hard to shield us from. The themes of these books stressed the importance of family, overcoming your fears, the effects of bullying, coping with changing situations, envy, religion, body image, and even introduced sexuality.

Blume's Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret is the coming-of-age story of an 11-year-old assigned an independent study and chooses to study the beliefs of people because she's ambivalent about her own (her father is Jewish, mom is Christian), but along the way she deals with her first menstrual cycle, purchasing a bra, a crush and watching other girls develop faster than she does among other issues. It would seem to me that girls everywhere should read this book because these are situations and emotions that are commonplace in the life of young ladies as they enter puberty. The open discussion of religion and sexuality made this book a target for censorship in the 70's, but by the time we got our hands on it in the 80's, times had changed. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing has been one of my favorite books for most of my life, as has the rest of the "Fudge Series", along with Freckle Juice and Blubber.

Beverly Cleary's books about Ramona Quimby and her family started with a young girl at the same stage of life that I was and how she related to the changes she faced by going to school, her dad's unemployment, sibling rivalry, her hopes of becoming rich to support the family, an expanding family and other mischievous acts that kids her age got into. Sure it was all fiction, but it was life, the life kids should experience as kids. I'm not telling you how to raise your children, but allowing them to thumb through your collection of street literature novels may not be the exposure to life you want them to have, but I don't have kids, what do I know?

Leave a respond