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Children's LiteratureThe best books are to be read aloud and to be shared with at least one other person. That argument is set forth by teacher/parent Edward Blishen in the introduction to this collection of excerpts from 20 children's classics. Blishen maintains that the rich language found in many children's classics, such as The Hobbit, Tom Sawyer, and The Secret Garden, stimulates the imagination and helps to develop literacy. Blishen's book contains excerpts from these and other classic tales, including Charlotte's Web and The Wizard Of Oz, as well as stories by O. Henry and Rudyard Kipling. It should be noted that Blishen defines the word "classic" not as a musty, leather-bound volume but as "a book that has been read till the covers drop off, either by generations of children, or, in the case of more recent books, in such a way by a single generation (or two) that here, clearly, is a book of classic quality." Blishen also provides tips on how to read aloud effectively. The book's contents page lists estimated reading times for each excerpt, ranging from 8 to 35 minutes-a boon when predicting bedtime. Other than the cover, the book is not illustrated, but the richness of language found inside makes it a non-issue. This compilation should do its part to keep children's classics alive in the hearts of youngsters-and adults. 2003 (orig. 1992), Kingfisher Books/Houghton Mifflin Company, Ages 5 to 8.
— Robbin Gould