Inspired by my friend over at The Chronicles of a Children’s Book Writer blog, who asks, “It’s Monday, what are you reading?” I thought I’d share the books that are on the top of the pile over here.
Yes, there are a few. There are so many great picture books – old and new – and I am addicted to finding the ones that speak to me, and to my son. Luckily, we often have the same tastes, though not always. I am not above hiding away the ones that we disagree on; if he asks for them, I’ll pull them out again, but more often than not they are out of mind as soon as they are out of sight. Thank God. I’m sure the days of that working are numbered.
But back to the current favorites. They run the gamut. From non-fiction, like this beautifully illustrated book on the quirky lives of frogs (with a subtle conservation message woven in):
to the delightful tail of a fox’s thoughtful, though slightly mis-timed gesture for a friend, we have a wide selection of favorites. If there is a common thread throughout, it would be – unsurprisingly – nature in some aspect or another. Nicola Davies’ book of poetry is imaginative and thought provoking – stretching the limits of a child’s creative thinking beyond the norm, in a way that is sure to instill if not a love at the very least an appreciation for poetry. Such a pleasure to read!
Mama’s personal favorite du jour is this little gem that introduces kids to the process of writing. Of course the subject matter is way above my two year old, but the fantastical illustrations (a mixture of drawings and collage) hold his attention. He has me read it at least two times in a row, several times a day right now. It’s simple plan for sticking to your story path may be directed at children, but I actually feel the message becoming my own personal writer’s mantra as well.
But the most dog-eared of all is this: our gigantic Crossley Bird ID guide. It’s not a kid’s book per se, but the kid in THIS house pours over it’s pages daily. Each illustration is a collage of photos of birds in different poses – feeding, flying, nesting. At two, he knows an exorbitant amount of information about birds, and I, who was introduced to this interest by him and not the other way around, am learning a lot, too. File this one under you can’t guess what your kid will be into. I for one am not disappointed that it’s birds, animals, and books, passions I can get behind. I share less enthusiasm for his other interest: construction vehicles.
Books featured in the top photo (aside from the ones already mentioned):
Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animal’s Lives – Nonfiction – really interesting facts about various animals (like how many pairs of antlers a caribou will grow and shed in his lifetime) paired with sleek, modern illustrations.
Henny Heartwarming story of a chicken born with arms and her path, not only to self acceptance, but to relishing what makes her different.
For Just One Day – A child’s imagination runs wild with gorgeous, fanciful illustrations and sweet rhyme.
I Want My Hat Back – OMG is all I can say about this one. Jon Klassen tells a simple story hilariously. The ending is a surprise, most likely (maybe hopefully?) lost on the kids, but super funny for the grown-ups.
The Story of Ferdinand – Nearly a century old, but still a favorite here – the gentle bull who prefers flowers to fighting.
All the World – Beautifully illustrated by one of my favorites, Marla Frazee, a poignant message about our connection to all things. Love, love, love.
Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella – Jan Brett’s detailed drawings are incomparable. We especially like this story because of Cinder’s uncanny resemblance to our own chicken, Henrietta.
Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site – He loves the content, but I love it for being a cute rhyme that can even hold the attention of someone much less enamored of excavators and cement mixers.
Time for Bed – Sweet illustrations of mama animals putting their babies to bed, and a cute, sleepy rhyme. The little child at the end reminds us that we’re all connected – mamas and babies of all species.
Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You – Nancy Tillman is the queen of tugging at your heartstrings. A lovely story about the unconditional forever-ness of a parents love. Magically illustrated, too.
The Kissing Hand – perhaps the sweetest story of letting go and growing up. When Chester Raccoon begs to ditch school and stay home with mama, she gives him a gift to help him find his courage. Another oldie, but goodie.
The New Baby Train – Woody Guthrie and Marla Frazee explore the possibility that new babies arrive by train. So cute, and the depression-era drawings are awesome!
If You Want to See a Whale – proof that simplicity can still tug at your emotions. The last picture, and the impending awe it illustrates, gets me every time.
Paul Meets Bernadette – The loveliest story about altering your perspective, and about love itself. Just the sweetest.
Rain! – With fun collage and a scarcity of words, we learn that attitude is everything when it comes to perception.
Up and Down – Sequel to “Lost and Found,” this is a delightful story of friendship that is as quirky as the drawings that accompany it.
How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? Seeing dinosaurs act like pouty kids is pretty funny. And the message is clear: dinosaurs don’t make a lot of excuses. They just go to bed.
Hello Hello – Helps us to remember that if you unplug and open up your door and mind, there is a whole world out there to discover. I of course love this message about reconnecting with the natural world.