I am forever looking for lists of the best children’s books, even downloading them onto my iPhone while browsing the public library shelves. So, naturally, I was ecstatic–ecstatic!–to see that the Scholastic publication Parent & Child was publishing its own”100 Greatest Books” list in a special March issue. Who better to publish such a list than the folks who brought all those book fairs to our schools?
Another brilliant move by the magazine was its choice to put Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling on the cover. In February, it was announced that Rowling will be publishing her first adult novel with Little Brown. While she’s not currently writing for kids, she is the perfect choice for this cover, as she almost singlehandedly got kids in America reading again.
A 2008 Scholastic survey revealed that three out of four kids said reading the Harry Potter books, or having someone read Harry Potter to them, made them interested in reading other books. As a former middle school English teacher, I can attest to the “magic” of Harry Potter–the kind that converts reluctant readers into the ones who won’t put a book away during the rest of their classes. That’s got to be worth some sort of Nobel Prize in Literature, right?
A working, married mother of three, Rowling fully owns the life of a multitasker. But that doesn’t mean she’s left behind her passion for reading, which blossomed as a child, or has stopped devouring books these days. In an interview with O, The Oprah Magazine, the bestselling author confesses, “I read when I’m drying my hair. I read in the bath. I read when I’m sitting in the bathroom. Pretty much anywhere I can do the job one-handed, I read.”
As one might expect, what Rowling read as a child greatly influenced her own writing. She speaks of “The Little White Horse” by Elizabeth Goudge and “The Story of the Treasure Seekers” by E. Nesbit as having been especially important to her because both centered around a “plain heroine”–something the author identified with as a child.
So where does Potter rank on Scholastic’s list? Up there in the top 10, to be sure. Don’t miss the rest of the list in the March issue!