As I read the twenty or so children's books we have here in Padova, I am struck by the importance they have in the education of my children. At two and half, Dominic can already memorize large portions of stories. Every night he recites the story of Baby Moses/Adult Moses while we flip the pages in his little Toddler Bible. He anticipates the action and can name everything in the pictures. He understands humor and likes rhyme. I am often surprised by the books that become his favorites. They often seem more complicated than I think he should be able to enjoy. Currently, The Saggy Baggy Elephant is at the top of his list.
Stories teach children right and wrong. They should make them love good heroes and despise villains, praising virtue and condemning vice. It is moral training on the most basic level. Now, I don't think there's anything wrong with reading a-moral stories. Silly Stories with Bert and Ernie is just that, silly. It may not develop their noble sensibilities, but it does foster a love of reading. I tend to think that this "lighter" reading is just fine, so long as the greater portion of their literature is more substantive. I certainly have a long way to go before having any sort of comprehensive view of children's lit. Thankfully, my future contains thousands more readings of children's books during which I will have the time to ponder these questions (at least between the kids questions of "Mommy, can you count them?" "What's that?" "What's he eating that for?" etc).
Anyway, I was wondering, what are everyone's favorite books from their childhood? Which books are so important or wonderful that you think my children will be deprived if they do not read them?