One of my favorite things to do is read books with my son. We started looking at books every night before bed when he was one year old, and now he loves books.
We go to the library frequently, and it’s a relaxing activity I can do with him when I put my baby down for his nap too.
My four-year-old is very picky about books, however. Like many children, he’ll want to read a book over and over again until I’m ready to throw it into the trash. Then other times he’ll get a book for a gift and have an immediate disdain for it. There seems to be no rhyme or reason for this, but I only hope he’ll rethink his position on those books when he gets a little older.
As a mother, it’s a joy to be able to read children’s books, which is something I would not do otherwise. From a friend who used to write children’s books, I know that writing for children is much harder than one might think and getting published is even harder. But I had not perused the books enough to know that some of the most beautiful art can exist between their pages.
If a children’s book author is lucky enough to also be an artist, I tip my hat to them. I have a hard time drawing a stick figure, so for me, some of these children’s books should be hung up on a wall.
Below are four of my favorite children’s books that also get the stamp of approval from my four-year-old.
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson – This is an old classic, and I can see why. The simple and elegant drawing of a little boy with a purple crayon, drawing his way through adventure and back home again, delighted me the first time I read it, and it even impressed my husband too. My son is always happy to have it read to him, so I know it’s a keeper.
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen and illustrated by John Schoenherr – My sister the schoolteacher gave us this book and said it was a must-have. The story is about a little girl who goes out into the woods with her papa one snowy night during a full moon so that they can try to see a great horned owl. Beautifully illustrated, it’s one of those “hang on the wall” books, and I think it has the capacity to lower blood pressure too.
Move Over, Rover! by Karen Beaumont and illustrated by Jane Dyer – If your child loves animals like mine does, you need to get this book. During a rainstorm, a cat, raccoon, squirrel, blue jay, and snake squeeze in next to Rover in his warm, dry dog house, but then they’re all blasted out of there by a rather stinky creature that they didn’t know had already crawled in! The repetition and rhyme make it fun to read, and with the beautiful illustrations, it’s probably the only book I haven’t gotten tired of after my son requested it 20 nights in a row.
The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen – This is my absolute favorite, and I’m in awe of Van Dusen who can write a lively story in rhyme and illustrate it with incredibly beautiful drawings. It’s about a circus ship that crashes off the coast of Maine, and the mean circus boss leaves all the animals to rescue himself. The animals swim to a nearby town and find a haven with a community of people who are kind to them, and when the mean circus boss comes looking for his animals, the townspeople have to think fast to hide the animals. And this is the fun part of the book – the page where Van Dusen "hides” the animals, and your little readers try to find all fifteen of them!
Shelli Bond Pabis is a Winder resident and columnist for the Barrow Journal. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.