Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Library of the Early Mind

I recently attended a screening of a new documentary on literature for children called: Library of the Early Mind. It was shown for free at my local library in downtown Minneapolis and after the film there was a panel discussion which included the director of the film, Edward J. Delaney, a school media specialist, Julie Reimer, (also the author of the blog, Extended Self Life, see my list of favorite blogs below!), and three authors, Catherine Thimmesh, David LaRochelle, and John Coy. The panelists were excellent and added to the experience of the film, which interviews twenty creators of children's books. There is humor, clarity, and intensity in the stories of each of the artist/authors being interviewed. The film begins with the voice of Chris Van Allsburg telling the story of how the idea for the book, The Polar Express came about. After drawing the headlight of a train in the woods with steam glowing in the night he asked himself: "If I were a child and a train could take me anywhere, where would I want to go?" And from there the story evolved. Later in the film, the author Natalie Babbitt says "The best children's stories are wisdom dipped in pictures." I loved this!

One point that the panelists discussed was how picture books become the "wallpaper" of our lives, meaning, how our favorite books we read when we were little, stay with us the rest of our lives. John Coy made the point that it wasn't just "wallpaper", but that the books he remembers from when he was little actually changed his life-- they did not stay in the background. And since today is my birthday, I thought I would list the books that are not only wallpaper decorating my life, but also changed the way I thought, the choices I have made, and who I am now and at different ages and stages of my life. After reading my list, if you are so inclined, please leave your list of favorite books from your childhood, the one's that still remind you who you are. During the panel talk, the director of the film, Edward Delaney, said the one book he remembers that made a difference in his life was: The Human Comedy by William Saroyan. I have never read this book, but I went to the library yesterday and checked it out in order to add it to my library of the aging mind!

My List of "Wallpaper" Books, favorites from when I was little:

  • Millions of Cats

  • The Cat in the Hat Comes Back

  • The Ugly Duckling

  • The Little Engine That Could

  • Little Bear

  • The Phantom Tollbooth

  • The Secret Garden


  1. One favorite was and is The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes. It made Easter magical.

  2. I loved The Country Bunny! Definitely a book that not only made Easter magical, but everything seemed possible if you could only find the right shoes and be very good!