25 June 2008

Children's Books to Soothe the Savage Beast (and I don't mean the child)

Again, I'm taking part in Works for Me Wednesday, sponsored by Rocks in My Dryer

We all agree that reading to our children is something we should do from the very beginning.  From board books for the very young to lovely picture books for young children and on to chapter books for the rest of our lives, books benefit us in so many ways.  Books help us learn story-telling, expose us to beautiful art, expand our views of the world, teach us empathy, show us ways of life foreign to our own (among many other things).  I've found that my children find reading to be soothing, and a necessary part of their day.  In fact, Lucy (who is two and a half), when overwrought, or struggling with being told no, will cry out, "Read books!  Read books!"  Reading is a way she knows to be soothed and comforted.  Even our eldest, Walter, has a very hard time relaxing enough for sleep without being read to; for him, it's not the same as reading to himself (something he also loves to do).

In my almost ten years of being a parent, I have found that there are certain books that soothe not only the child, but me, the mother, as well.  Certain books will reassure me that all will be well; certain books will make me ready for bed.  I thought I would share here a few of my favorites.  

Goodnight, Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown.  This is a classic that most of us could probably recite by heart.  But I love it!  The pace of the words, the familiar drawings, the way the good-nights wind down to "Good night stars, good night air, good night noises everywhere."  By the last sentence, I am whispering and ready to drift off myself.

I am a Bunny, by Ole Risom, illustrated by Richard Scarry.  This is a book I remember from my own childhood.  My mother had given me our old copy, that was re-bound with green tape.  A few years ago, my sister-in-law gave a new copy in a board book.   Yeah!  Thanks, Jen; how did you know?  I like several things about this one.  It has an unusual shape; both the old and new copies have tall, rectangular pages.  The drawings are very realistic, yet whimsical in that they show a bunny in nature, wearing the trademark Scarry red overalls with yellow shirt (a la Huckle).  The book goes through the seasons and ends with the bunny, Nicholas, going to sleep for the winter.  Another soother.

One of Lucy's current favorites is The Big Red Barn, also by Margaret Wise Brown.  Lucy calls it her "doggy book".  The illustrations are light and happy, and tell about all the animals on the farm.  It ends (again) with "while the moon sailed high in the dark night sky."  Zzzzzz...oh, sorry, I dozed off (in a good way).

Lastly, I must mention Richard Scarry's What Do People Do All Day?  Another book from my childhood, though we have a new, abridged version of the original (the old one is holding on by a literal thread).  The stories in the book are instructive to children about  much of our world, and the illustrations are humorous and provide endless detail.  In addition, this book contains my favorite sentence in all of children's literature.  Something about the rhythm of this sentence just satisfies me:  "Jason the mason made a foundation in the hole for the house to be built on."  Try saying it with me...isn't that fun?  It just sounds right.

This is a very short list, and only includes books for the very young.  

This is what works for me.  What works for you?  What are your favorites?  Which ones soothe your inner savage beast?  

2 comments:

  1. Kit: I love this frequent blogging!! It's awesome.

    Books... my world of books. I love books and reading. It's hard to pick a favorite, but I loved reading (or having read to me) any Roald Dahl or Carl Sandburg's Rootabaga Stories. They're great.

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  2. Cat, thanks for the comment! I'm having a lot of fun with the blog. I'm not familiar with the Carl Sandburg series...I'll have to look for it at the library for summer reading!

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