CASA Conversations

The Children’s Books That Shaped and Inspired Us

Did you know that August 9 is National Book Lover’s Day? Here at Passaic County CASA, we’re big book lovers. To help celebrate the day, staff were asked to share the children’s books that left a lasting impact.

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. Like many 9-12 year old girls who read this book, I felt like Judy Blume was in my head. How could it be that I wasn’t alone in these feelings? She made it clear that we were in this puberty thing together, and for that I will be eternally grateful. I can’t wait to give it to my daughter, who already loves Judy Blume because of the Fudge series.

- Sarah During, Case Supervisor

All of Shel Silverstein's poetry collections: Where the Sidewalk Ends, Falling Up, A Light in the Attic, etc. I remember third-grade Jess gasping and giggling at some of his poems and drawings, and then moments later, deeply pondering some of the others. Silverstein had a gift for the absurd, but also, somehow, he managed to simultaneously inspire hope and motivation. One of my favorite poems as a child (and truthfully, to this day) is called “Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda.” Check it out!

- Jessica Mickley, Director of Training and Outreach

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White is one of my all-time favorite books, period. I loved the courage Fern showed to stand up for a vulnerable animal when no one else would. I loved the friendship story between Wilbur and Charlotte and the difference one person (or, um, spider) could make for another. Sadly, the book also taught me how unfair and cruel the world can be, especially toward the weak and vulnerable. After reading this book, I never looked at any animal or insect the same way again.

- Laura Warne, Communications Coordinator

Not exactly academic or inspiring but The Monster at the End of this Book, Starring Lovable Furry Old Grover by Jon Stone is definitely my favorite. My dad read this book to us growing up with great animated voices for each character and made it a favorite we demanded repeatedly. It's now a regular on my boy's nightly reading list, although I don't imitate the voices nearly as well. The moral of the story is to always keep pushing through; don't be afraid because often the only thing holding you back is yourself. You can listen to the story at:

- Erica Fischer-Kaslander, Executive Director

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney is a great picture book. In it, a baby hare and his father try to outdo each other in expressing their love for one another. The ending of the book is often quoted: "I love you to the moon and back."

For slightly older children, James and the Giant Peach by James Dahl is a favorite. James is orphaned as a boy, but with some lucky magic, he travels the world in a giant peach, befriended by giant bugs who become his surrogate family. It's both sweet and funny.

- Michelle Schaefer, Strategy And Reporting Manager

My favorite children's book is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I loved reading about the main character, Francie Nolan, and how she overcame all of the obstacles in her life to make something of herself.

- Gina Cetta, Program Director