Hello dear ones,
I've missed you these last weeks, and have much to share, as usual, but rather than launch spectacularly into the cultural and writerly happenings you are used to finding in these missives, I thought just to share some books I've read and read and read recently that you may enjoy, especially if you, or someone you know, is 3-7 years old.
Being a father now of two little ones who fall asleep with books surrounding them more often than stuffed animals, I have had—suddenly it still seems to me—a new genre with which to contend, in addition to the poetry, essays, historical fiction, and theology books I’m usually reading: kids’ picture books. I’m still waiting for the day that they can sit through Collodi’s Pinocchio, or The Wind in the Willows, Treasure Island and the rest (though we have recently made a very rewarding go of The Trumpet of the Swan, which is seriously amazing), but for years now, I’ve had to content myself with reading and re-reading picture books with only a sentence or two per page, lest the littles grow restless.
These vary, unsurprisingly, in quality. I preview a dozen or so with each trip to the library, hoping for 3-4 that are not offensively banal and/or possessed of subversive ideology; it’s more of a minefield than you may think. Anyway, here are some of the few that my kids just adore and that I have not yet grown weary of, yea though each has been read 50 or so times.
Perhaps you are a new parent, wondering how to furnish your new progeny's library. Or perhaps your child has just turned two and you're beginning to realize just how very many books they expect you to read to them. Perhaps you are beginning to realize that not all children's books are created equal.
Of course, the public library will be your best friend, but you will still need to have a stack of books on hand for when you are in-between trips to said library, or in case of pandemic when all the libraries suddenly close.
There are many books I remember fondly from my own youth--Mr. Sylvester's Pebble looms large for some reason--but I thought I'd furnish a list here of the kid's books that I've read over (and over) without getting sick of them. Perhaps I can save you some trouble so that story time remains a joy rather a task you grit your teeth through.
I suppose I'll put this this list on my blog as I encounter new books from the hundreds I read to my two kids (aged, in the Year of our Lord 2021, seven and four) so I can keep it updated. If you have found books that don't make you want to remove your eyes upon a second reading, I'd love it if you dropped me a line either on Twitter or via email.
Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown
Attack of the Underwear Dragon by Scott Rothman
Mr. Maxwell's Mouse by Frank Asch
Bradley McGogg: The Very Fine Frog by Tim Beiser
The Pig War: How a Porcine Tragedy Taught America and Britain to Share by Emma Bland Smith
Max the Brave by Ed Vere
XO, Ox: A Love Story by Adam Rex
The Bear and the People by Reiner Zimnik
St. George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges
A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas
If you Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano
Il Pinguino Che Aveva Freddo by Phillip Giordano
The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse by Mac Barnett
Our house’s absolute favorite. The kids have memorized every word of it and they have “read” it to each other I don’t know how many times. I read it aloud to my Creative Writing classes sometimes as an example of de-familiarizing common language.
As I say, this list is meant merely as a gift to you. Check a few of these out when you can, or when you need to send a birthday present and want something brilliant.
I'll be back soon with more hotness.