Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"B" Is for Betsy and Books

"When the day came for school to open, Betsy was up bright and early. She had new brown oxfords to wear."

Seeing my kids go back to school this week reminded me of some of my favorite children's books by Carolyn Haywood. This dear old library book, above, is in our collection at home and sports the cutest black-and-white illustrations drawn by Haywood herself.

When I was young, I enjoyed reading about Betsy and her little sister, Star, her friends Ellen and Billy, her sweet teacher Miss Grey and their kindly policeman Mr. Kilpatrick. The Betsy stories, full of silly mix-ups and childhood friendships, are simple and earnest, and all their little adventures end happily despite a few scrapes here and there.

Born in 1898, Haywood was a writer and painter who created dozens of popular children's stories beginning in 1939. But her most well-known books are the " 'B' Is for Betsy" series, whose large type and simple plots are just right for beginning readers. Even today, her books are still in print and continue to appeal to young children and their parents.

I love old books, especially children's books, and especially those by women writers. The old stories show warmth, innocence and old-fashioned values that are hard to find in many books today. I think Haywood must have been a remarkable woman; she lived to be 92 and kept writing books into her '80s!

To find out more about Carolyn Haywood, visit

Happy reading!

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