One of the hardest parts of letting go of having very young children is feeling keenly aware of the fact that our days reading picture books together are waning. We used to read piles of stories together before bed. With homework and other priorities, we are down to just one. You may find it surprising that children who are twelve, ten, and eight will still sit and listen to a book with me, but I think a large part of the draw for them is that we all get a few minutes to snuggle on the bed together after a long day. I’m determined to ride this wave together for as long as possible!
If you have young children, or are looking for great books to give as gifts, here are 5 titles we are loving right now.
1. Owl Moon. Jane Yolen’s Caldecott winner features gorgeous pictures and a touching story of patience and finding beauty in nature on a cold winter evening. Anyone who has seen an owl knows how gorgeous they are, yet mysterious too. The artwork, especially of the owl, is rich and vivid.
2. Miss Rumphius. We were given a 30th Anniversary edition of this classic story by Barbara Cooney. The underlying message of trying to make the world a better place is inspiring, even for me at the ripe age of 42. I’ve enjoyed our open-ended conversations at the end of the story about what the possibilities might be for leaving our own marks on the world.
3. The Right Word: Roget And His Thesaurus. My daughter received this from her great-aunt for Christmas, along with her first thesaurus. My husband and I did not know the story behind the creation of this timeless reference tool, and it’s a lovely biography. Also, if you don’t know Melissa Sweet, she is a fabulous illustrator.
This is a great gift idea that I will definitely use again!
4. Annie and Helen. This is a remarkable picture book that gives kids a great introduction to the remarkable relationship that Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan shared. The story is well told, and my kids love the black and white photos lining both the front and back covers, as well as the braille alphabet on the back jacket.
5. The Seven Silly Eaters. For any mother who has ever felt like a short-order chef in her own home fielding special requests for food, you will love reading this book with your kids. With lots of rhyming and the charming illustrations by Marla Frazee, you can’t go wrong.