Today is my Mom's birthday, and I'm 3000 miles away. I remember very clearly the books that my dad introduced to me as a child, but I don't remember many books specifically that mom introduced to me. I think, honestly, this is because most of the books I read as a child were introduced to me by my mom. here are a few of the titles that mattered most to me:
1) The Search for Deliciousby Natalie Babbit was, until I read Peter Pan as an adult, my very favorite children's book. It is a wonderful meditation on language, in the guise of a children's adventure story. In her easy poetic style, Babbit tells the story of Gaylen, the prime minister's paige, who is sent to ask every citizen what the definition of "delicious" is. When no one can agree an evil prince stirs up trouble among the masses, and Gaylen has to work to save the peace of the kingdom, as well as restore to a mermaid her beloved toy. Oh yeah, and there are dwarfs. A sort of reverse Tower of Babel story, there is something in this book for everyone too love. (Could be read aloud, or given to 8-10 year olds. I'd say introduce it as early as possible, as it gets better with every reading.)
2) Every mother introduces her daughter to either Anne of Green Gables or Little Womenby Louisa May Alcott. My mom was a Little Women mom, and that book formed me in ways I could never fully explain or even understand. As a girl, I wanted to be Jo. As a woman, it turns out I'm much more like Amy.
3) I always associate The Runaway Bunnyby Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd with my Mom. I don't know if it is because she loved it too, or if it is just because it was about a mother's love. But, it's a classic; and I love it.
4) Mom couldn't take me to the English lake country and let me adventure on a deserted island. But she could give me Swallows and Amazonsby Arthur Ransome--which is almost as good. If I could forever be in any book, it would be this one. Filled with sunlight, innocence, hard work, and adventure; plus there are ten more books in the series!
5) The Hundred Dressesby Eleanor Estes is a magical story. I don't know if mom waited to give it to me because she thought I'd enjoy it more when I was older, or if she herself forgot about it till I was old enough to really enjoy it--but I just loved it. It opened up an entire world of imagination to me, and still is one of my very favorite books.