Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Comfort Books

I had the opportunity to go on a cruise a couple of years ago. It was quite an experience, especially the dining. We had our meals in a fancy floating restaurant three times a day for an entire week. At first it was fun tasting all the exotic dishes, but by the end of the trip, I was hankering for plain, ordinary, comfort food.

In a way, books are like this. The world of fiction is a big smorgasbord with a volume to suit every taste. There are books that stretch your mind and cause you to think deeply. If you want to travel into the future or journey into the past, there's a book for that. There are even books that reveal the dark side of human nature and the power of redemption. But at times, I want to read a nice book. Nothing profound. Nothing angst-y. Just nice. So I go back to my choice of comfort books - children's literature.

I rediscovered children's books while I was in graduate school thanks to a snowstorm. The semester had just started when classes were cancelled, so I had very little studying to do. Since I was bored, I bundled up and walked to the public library in search of something to read. Due to the ice, the only working entrance was through the children's department. I happened upon the fiction shelves and rediscovered a treasure trove. I found the Little House books, the complete Anne series, A Little PrincessThe Cricket in Times SquareMrs. Piggle-Wiggle, and the "Shoe" stories by Noel Streatfeild. I was like a kid in a candy store and never made it to the adult section. Needless to say, my snow days were well spent in a reunion with long-lost friends.

I'm afraid I am rather out-dated in my choice of children's stories. I would rather go boating with Mole and Rat or take a drive with Milo and Tock than fight zombies or pine after sparkly vampires. But these comfort books have endured the test of time by capturing the imagination of boys and girls for decades. My "friends" may be old, but they are worth keeping.

A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest. 
C.S. Lewis

So what are your favorite comfort books?


  1. I took a course in Children's Literature in university, and loved it. Much of it was not originally directed to children. L.M. Montgomery's Anne books were originally marketed to adults, but when literature changed, her books were seen more as children's books. I still love them!

    1. I did not know that about the Anne books. Very interesting. Children's lit has changed over the years, some for the better and some for the worse.

  2. The Anne books, Little Women (actually probably most of Alcott's books), Jan Karon's Mitford series are all comfort books for me.

  3. Thanks for this piece. I have never been able to embrace the adult fiction but love the wonder of children's literature. A little child shall lead them.
    I have found a few older authors that feed the soul of an adult as well as child, young person, etc. Kate Seredy, Margot Benary-Isbert.

  4. I love the Piggle-Wiggle books! Growing up overseas, I was more exposed to the Tintin comics and Enid Blyton stories than American children's literature. Though I did get the entire Little House series for a gift one year for Christmas (and still own).

  5. My heart is warmed by this post! I thought I was the only grown up woman who was enjoying some of the great classic children's books ...again. In the past few months, I pulled from my bookshelves one of my all time favorite stories, "Heidi" and again, relished the simplicity of the gospel presented in its pages. This week ,while once again browsing my shelves for a classic comfort book, I discovered "Eight Cousins" by Louisa Mae Alcott. The sequel, "Rose in Bloom" awaits its turn.

    A quick story... shortly after my graduation from the nursing program at the university, (25 yrs ago), I had a hankering to go to the public library, to the children's section specifically. I wanted to read a book for the sheer joy of reading---no tests on it, no reports, no dialogue, no critiquing it...simply to enjoy. I knew that I had never finished "Little Women" when I was a kid, so that's the book I checked out and finished. It was wonderful!


  6. Thanks for your comments, ladies. I'm glad I'm in good company. :)