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The best children's books...

...are, quite simply, good books.

One of the glories of having a little boy is a chance to seek out fine books and read them to him. In this way, I've gone through Winnie The Pooh, Peter Pan, Mary Poppins, Bambi, Pinnochio and Bud, Not Buddy.

Sometimes we read silly, lightweight stuff--we both LOVE the Wimpy Kid books--they're so funny!

But the really good children's books are unexpectedly serious, thoughtful and moving works that are as good for the souls of grown-ups as they are for kids. I was positively shocked at how good a book Bambi is, for example. And the same goes for the novel I just finished reading to my son, Where The Red Fern Grows, the story of an adolescent boy and his two hunting dogs.

It's full of adventure and violence, blood and pain. At moments, I found myself worried that it was too much for a little boy. But my son, who often hates to admit that he likes my choices of reading material, admitted that this was a very, very good book.

I didn't need him to tell me. I always look forward to our nightly reading sessions, but never as much as with this book. I found myself reading it like an actor, doing all I could to convey the fear and pain and exaltation of the young hero. And as when reading Bambi, I sometimes lost the power of speech and couldn't make the words come, they so moved me. My daughter, 15-going-on-grown, usually ignores our reading sessions, but even she came over and started listening in. It's that good a book.

Even if you're not blessed with children, or if they're all grown and gone, never mind. Don't deprive yourself. Next trip to the library, take a turn through the children's section and expect something wonderful.

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