Just like so many things in life there are requirements that can enhance your experience and this one would be to find a small child preferably your own child or grandchild and sit with them and read them safely down to sleep.
1. The Runaway Bunny was written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd. I mention the artist because I feel they are equally important, some people can grasp the idea through words and others are visual learners. Small children typically with their wide eyes take most things in with their eyes way before they have learned the hurtful words that sometimes come off the lips of the adults that we are suppose to be. Runaway Bunny is the story of this “trying to be” but not so successful rebellious little bunny who announces to his mother that he is going to do this because he can. The mother concedes each time and allows the little bunny to go ahead and do it. Cleverly though, the mother portrays to the little bunny that any attempt they make she will be there in some kind of capacity, often times in the background but always watching over. The story ends with the little bunny finally realizing that he can do whatever he wants but that mother bunny will do whatever she can to be available and at times an obstacle. So he may as well stay and crawls up into a rocking chair with his mother where he finds comfort. I am a stalker with my children so I can relate very well to this story.
2. Goodnight Moon was also written by Margaret Wise Brown and the pictures are by Clement Hurd. This book features the same stars of Runaway Bunny, the mother and the little bunny. It begins in the quiet of the great green room where the mother is putting her child down for the evening. The story continues with the observation and acknowledgement of all the items in the room as they bid them goodnight. Fun to allow the child to find and to pick out each one as you say goodnight. To me it is a very peaceful book and has reminded me of my own days and all the things in my day that have made an impact, some happy, some sad but the day is done and it is time for a peaceful sleep and to say goodnight. Tomorrow offers another great day to find new things in that great green room but the routine is the same at the end of the day you say goodnight.
3. The Big Honey Hunt written by Stanley and Janice Berenstain. If you have never heard of the Berenstain Bears you have missed some of the greatest educators of our time and this is just one story that makes me smile. The bears run out of honey and the mom takes the problem to the dad but of course gives him explicit directions in where to go. The dad takes his small son out to fetch the honey but he does not follow the wife’s suggestion. He has a better plan. It is a great story of the adventures of a dad and a boy in search of natural honey that you get from a tree, so he thinks, as they pass right on by the store that the mom recommended. I like the story so much because it is a fun filled and at times dangerous bonding of the boy and his dad as they spend the day together in search of the perfect honey. They arrive home much later in the evening with the honey from the store. The mother bear, hands on hip is waiting for them at the door, smiling, knowing full well they had taken the wrong road but at the end of the day she has her honey and her family home safe and sound.
4. Horton Hatches the Egg written by Dr. Seuss. I love this story, big old dumb elephant sits atop a tree on a nest to enable his friend, Mayzie who begs for help and goes off on vacation as Horton faithfully stays for the egg to hatch 100. Horton is ridiculed because he doesn’t belong on a nest, it was out of character and he didn’t fit the role. He became such a freak of nature; men came along and carted him along with the nest to a traveling circus. People would laugh and laugh at this dumb ole elephant and one day the circus reaches the same very town where the bird had flown off to. The bird spots the elephant and faintly remembers him and just then the egg begins to hatch and the bird is all set to claim his prize. Horton now feels the egg belongs to him. As they struggle with the decision, the egg cracks and out flies an elephant bird that resembles Horton as it “should be” because an elephant is faithful 100% and in the end he received his just reward. The humans then hailed Horton for the unique life he had hatched.
5. Things I Like written by Anthony Browne this is a very short book filled with so much potential to open up a dialog. The front cover is a monkey in overalls hanging in a tree. The first line of the book, “This is me, and this is what I like”, so simple. How much power does a book like that have? Immense if you ask me. You have the opportunity to share that book with anyone, you get to see exactly what that monkey likes, can share some of your own likes and ask the person you are reading with “what do you like”?, and in finding that common ground and possibly new insight you find a friend and a bonding relationship.
6. Corduroy story and pictures by Don Freeman. Another famous bear story, Corduroy was an imperfect, homeless toy; he lived in a department store with hopes of having a real home some day. He was missing a button. A little girl named Lisa spots him on a shelf and finds something attractive about him and the mother says not today besides he has issues, waste of money. Corduroy sets out on an adventure that evening in the department store and tries to find a button to fix his short comings. Doesn’t exactly work out but the very next day Lisa comes back and with her own money buys him, takes him with her and gives him a home and they form a lifetime friendship. People don’t have to be perfect to find one another; you just have to accept who they are. Lisa did find a button and fix him up though.
7. I Just Forgot written by Mercer Mayer part of the Little Critters series. I can’t identify who or what this little critter is but I certainly recognize the characteristics. No defining sex to this creature either so I will just call it “they”. They absentmindedly forgot a little something each day like closing the refrigerator door, putting the milk away, and turning off the water. I have my own list of forgetfulness each day. No one gets through a day successfully remembering everything that’s why we are given the opportunity to get it right the next day. Something’s have more priority and have to be taken care of but at times it’s helpful to take a minute and reflect, "what did I forget?"
8. How To Dig a Hole To The Other Side Of the World by Faith McNulty, pictures by Marc Simont Now I find this to be an interesting book because where it does provide an education in geology naming each and every level that you must go through to get to and back again from the earth’s core, it also provides a view into a journey we all take into the deeps of our soul. There are a lot of obstacles and struggles we all face and the going gets tough and when you reach the surface again you can look back and see how important it all was and be ever so grateful to see the light of day again.
9. Watch Your Step, Mr. Rabbit written by Richard Scarry. He uses just 39 different words and you have the opportunity to cut those words out in the back of the book and rearrange them any way you see fit. I prefer not to deface any book because I find all books and stories to be precious. I have used this very statement “Watch Your Step, Mr. Rabbit” on many occasions. I’ve used it with my children to caution them to stop and think, and yes as a wife I have used it to inform my husband that he is treading on some shaky ground, but most of all I have applied this warning to myself. I have wandered into some pretty dangerous situations myself and have often not heeded the warning signs, just merrily and unconsciously traveled on, sometimes with my mouth but I do try and pay attention to that little voice inside that says I have gone too far out of my comfort zone and I too should watch my step.
10. Curious George some stories were written by Margaret Rey with pictures by H. A. Rey and other stories were written exclusively by H. A. Rey. George is this adorable, lovable monkey whose curiosity always seems to find him in trouble. There are so many different stories worth a read and you can find one book that has them all. I have both the compilation and a few of the individual books. George is very fortunate in that he has this friend, the man with the yellow hat that is always on the look out for where George is and religiously shows up in the end of each story and saves the day. Tough to find the man with the yellow hat when you are out there just being curious but he’s out there and I hope everyone can appreciate at the end of the day he does show up. Just be careful!
Find a small child and curl up with a good book or visit your parents and return the favor of the times they spent reading to you as a small child or you may never know the impact it can make on your life.
All these books I'm sure are available at your local Library. Get a library card and take your kids. Not sure how old you have to be to get a card but I know you can never be too young to enjoy a book!
Please share a book or two that has made a profound difference in your life. I’m always up for an education.