Now that my children have learned to read I have started indulging myself in giving them my favorite childhood books as birthday and Christmas presents. Also for Easter, Valentine's Day, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and "Hey, how would you like a new book?" day, which takes place whenever I find something cool at a yard sale.
I have a special wish list on Amazon, just for my Must Buy kids' books list. Currently at the top of that list is John D. Fitzgerald's Great Brain series. Semi-autobiographical, the series of eight books chronicles the adventures of JD and his siblings, most notably Tom (aka The Great Brain) in Adenville, Utah, in the final years of the 19th century.
Far too smart for his own good and positively overflowing with ideas, Tom always has a scheme ready to solve any problem he encounters. He can talk rings around his brothers and the other kids in town. He even bamfoozles some of the adults in his life, but usually the truth catches up with Tom and he gets a well-deserved lesson.
"Tom thought for a moment. "If you do my chores for a week, I just might not tell Papa and Mamma," he finally said.
"It's a deal," I said, and how I wished I'd learn to keep my big mouth shut. I knew if I told Papa and Mamma that Tom was a crook, it would break their hearts. But I also knew if I told them I was stupid and an easy mark, that would break their hearts too. The more I thought about it, the more grateful I was to Tom for letting me off so easy." More Adventures of the Great Brain
I loved these books when I was a kid. They're funny (which is still a quality that earns high marks from me) but The Great Brain books are also a fantastic depiction of how life was like back then. Not someone's re-creation of what they think it was like to live on the frontier, but actual descriptions from a man who lived what he wrote about.
Which means, if I can get my kids interested in The Great Brain (I don't think it'll be difficult) I'll not only be brainwashing them into sharing their mother's love of books, but slipping some education in under the radar.
I love a win/win scenario.
Books: The Great Brain, John D. Fitzgerald