A few good friends forwarded this column from the Sunday New York Times to me today: Nicholas Kristof, the renowned op-ed columnist for the NYT recently wrote about his favorite kids' books. It was an interesting list, but what is even more interesting is that if you look at his body of work, you can see that these childhood favorites really did have an impact on his writing career. Below are some examples:
Kristof Favorite: “Charlotte’s Web.” The story of the spider who saves her friend, the pig, is the kindest representation of an arthropod in literary history.
Related Kristof Article: "Humanity Even for Nonhumans." Writings by a Princeton scholar have popularized a movement to grant basic protections to pigs and chickens and to limit human dominion over other species.
Connection: To what extent do humans have the right to decide the fate of animals?
Kristof Favorite: “Wind in the Willows.” My mother read this 101-year-old English classic to me, and I’m still in love with the characters. Most memorable of all is Toad — rich, vain, childish and prone to wrecking cars.
Related Kristof Article: "It’s Time to Learn From Frogs." Scientists are beginning to find a connection between bizarre deformities in water animals and abnormalities in humans.
Connection: A young Kristoff learned valuable lessons in morality from a misbehaving anthropomorphized toad; scientists learn valuable lessons about humanity by studying genetically misbehaving amphibians.
Kristof Favorite: “Gentle Ben.” The coming-of-age story of a sickly, introspective Alaskan boy who makes friends with an Alaskan brown bear, to the horror of his tough, domineering father.
Related Kristof Article: "Obama, Misha and the Bear." President-elect Barack Obama needs a new approach to Russia if we want to avoid a new cold war, and we also need to get over our crush on Georgia’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili.
Connection: Coming-of-age story, of an skinny, introspective young president who attempts diplomatic relations with possibly hostile parties, to the horror of his tough, domineering predecessors.
I could go on, but I think you get the idea. The conversation continues, as Kristof invites people to list their favorites here.