Books Your Kid Should Read

"I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library." - Jorge Luis Borges

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All Creatures Great and Small

21 September 2008

All Creatures Great and Small
by James Herriot

This is a perennial favorite in my library. I've probably re-read Herriot's books about ten times, and they never fail to make me laugh and cry out loud. All Creatures Great and Small chronicles the first years of Herriot's life as a country vet in the Yorkshire Dales, but it's a wonderful story even if you have no interest whatsoever in animals, Yorkshire, veterinarians, or country life. Herriot is a born storyteller, an acute observer of both human and animal character, with a gentle and self-effacing sense of humor that will win over even the most post-ironic hipster. This book and the four that follow it are WONDERFUL read-aloud books - the whole family will enjoy the stories, and Herriot's masterfully simple prose lends itself beautifully to the spoken voice. They're also great books for giving kids a sense of British life pre- and post-WWII, with the seizmic shifts that happened in social interactions, industrialization, and cultural norms. But it's the magical rendering of country life amid the characters - human and otherwise - of the Dales that will keep you coming back to this one again and again.

Also recommended: All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Things Wise and Wonderful, The Lord God Made Them All, and Every Living Thing.