There are many memorable moments in the life of a child. There are the holidays; the first day of the school year; the long, happy boredoms associated with summer afternoons; the joys of splashing in puddles; the delightful pleasure of sitting under a tree with a good book; the thrill of chasing after ice cream trucks; riding bikes and wasting time like only a child can. But of all the many memories a person can recall about their childhood, the least favorite must be of those deep colds or illnesses that a kid can catch that keeps them home from school.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I thought that staying home from school was a mixed bag. I certainly didn’t like to get knocked down by a cold, but it seemed easier to get through with a couple days of “caldo de pollo” (chicken soup), “atole” (a soothing corn masa beverage) and Tang under my belt. The homework never seemed too deeply stacked up whenever I got back to school, and I always seemed to recover from all the lessons missed. But still, being sick was a hassle and a sadness–sad only in that it meant no playing outside with my pals, no running around the playground, and no watching TV. Being home meant bed rest. And being in bed for days on end meant only one thing: plenty of reading. My mom, then, became my library runner. She knew the drill. If I had to stay home, she wanted me in bed, and so if I had to be in bed, I wanted plenty of books to read–ones filled with adventure, daring-do, and plenty of good trouble!

I mention this because I just came off of a 14-day quarantine. I am thankful I wasn’t at home with a cold or COVID, rather, it was more of a precautionary measure that was taken to help keep my team and me safe. A quarantine does not mean staying home and doing nothing, though. A quarantine period means working from home, something that we embrace, knowing how much work there is to be done. The pandemic has made working from home a necessity for many, as the millions of workers who have worked from home, here at the one-year anniversary of the pandemic, can attest. I took this remote form of work in hand and attended meetings online, worked on various projects, pulled together booklists and such, but the best part of it was being able to review new materials to recommend to our patrons.

Last year, at the beginning of the pandemic, when shutdowns were imminent and we prepared for a new work experience, I chose, among other things, to evaluate a few dozen board games we picked up for a future family game day, but you can imagine how much fun that must have been, trying to play those games all on my own. After a week or so of that, it became clear to me that diving into the children’s department chapter book collection would be time better spent. So, before we went into complete lockdown, I managed to pull together a number of bags packed with a multitude of new and beloved titles to read. Then, once the doors were closed, I proceeded to spend the next month or so quietly and pleasantly enmeshed in the realm of children’s literature.

What I rediscovered was that the world of children’s fiction was a lot more fun to read than my typical adult nonfiction fare. I had fresh and exciting worlds to conquer, complex villains to thwart, and icky romances to avoid. I was happily surprised to find that that form of literature was more imaginative, easier to digest, and generally kookier than I remembered it being. I found myself happily escaping into worlds far more “real” than the ones that the New York Times or the Washington Post delivered to my inbox each day. Thanks to the likes of Mary Poppins, Captain Underpants and Harry Potter, I was able to set aside the woes of the nation and the world, if just for a moment. Those characters were kind and gracious, and their antics allowed me to smile. For that I was thankful.

I posted below the stack of children’s titles I recently read and reviewed that helped to get me through my recent quarantine in such tip-top shape. I am a happier person today, here at the end of it all, thanks to the periodic breaks I took into those wild worlds of whimsy. And just like those long-ago childhood days, when I found myself home, sick in bed, curled up with a good book while waiting for my temperature to go down, I found that I once again experienced that very lovely, long-lost form of guilty pleasure that only comes along when you are reading while everyone else is laboring. And while I wouldn’t wish illness or a quarantine period visited upon anyone, I do wish you all the stolen joys that go along with a quiet, midweek book escape.

And here is a list of books I picked up recently that you might enjoy reading!