What we learn from children’s picture books. . .
And why even adults should read them.
Did you have a favorite book or story as a child?
The tattered copy of The Little Car Who Wanted a Garage by Catherine Wooley still waits for me on my bookshelf. As a small child, I begged my mother to read it to me over and over, and I went back to that simple story as I grew up.
The main character, an old truck, longs to be as shiny, fast, useful and loved as all the other makes and newer models on the street. The car especially wished he could live in a garage. I won’t spoil the ending for you.
Through a simple story, I learned that the most important thing you can be is—you. We each have something unique to share in the world.
That’s the power of stories for children and adults.
When my children gather, the conversation often turns to their favorite stories, The Velveteen Rabbit, Ferdinand, Chicken Soup with Rice, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Goodnight Moon, and always on Wednesday, Wacky Wednesday. What made these books special to my children and thousands of others? The writers explained life through the eyes and hearts of a child, and every word, every phrase, pulled the story forward.
Sometimes, we need a few of these children’s books for adults to remind us of the simple truths that bind humankind and nature. Or, we could find a copy of our favorite book or sit on the floor in the children's section of the library or a local bookstore.
You’ll find humor, wisdom, comfort, and knowledge about the simple and complex, but with words and art that will engage all your senses.
I don’t mean to diminish the insight gained from hefty tomes and deeply analytical works. But when the weight of the world seems too heavy and beyond your control, you too might find—you—in the pages of a children’s story.
I’m off to read one of my newest favorites, Mixed, by Aree Chung. That is truly a colorful story for our times.
I’ve been writing short pieces on Instagram, sometimes drawing upon childhood memories such as when I remember the taste.
Interview with Judith Viorst about the real Alexander in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
Did you know that “Bad Moon Rising” was based on And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street - Dr. Seuss? John Fogarty wrote the song for his three-year-old son.
Here are a few quotes to ponder from my favorite picture books:
"Sometimes," said Pooh, "the smallest things take up the biggest room in your heart."
—A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh
“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!” —Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Thinks You Can Think by
“It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
My mom says some days are like that.”
—Judith Viorst, Alexander and the Terrible, Horribe, No Good, Very Bad Day
Be the best version of you.
Each day is
A new chance to
Be more you.”
—Peter H. Reynolds, Be You!
Find a little wonder this week, and read to a child—or sneak one of their books for your enjoyment.
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