On Saturday, a week after Charlottesville, I realized what I needed to help me feel even a tad bit better about the state of our world. I needed picture book therapy.
I read picture books with the girls each and every day for years and years and years. In fact, Katherine and I read pictures books over breakfast until not so long ago. In the past few months though, our picture book reading has dwindled off so on Saturday, I headed to our favorite independent bookstore, The Curious Reader. I told Sally and Chris, two amazing booksellers, that I needed to read their current favorite picture books. Sally and Chris know me well and we often talk politics when I am there so they didn’t needed to ask what needed curing.
They both headed off in different directions and soon I sat on the floor surrounded by an enormous pile of books. I worked my way through book after book and truly, I did feel better. There were books that made me think and books that just made me laugh. It took me awhile to whittle down my pile of books that I would bring home but I did and here they are.*
Picture Books to Make You Think
Strictly No Elephants written by Lisa Mantchev & illustrated by Taeeun Yoo
Strictly No Elephants is my favorite from this list. Mantchev tells the story of a little boy and his pet elephant who are excluded from a pet club and what they do about it. This book shares an amazing lesson without feeling too didactic.
The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet written by Carmen Agra Deedy & illustrated by Eugene Yelchin
The Rooster Who Not Be Quiet reminds all of us to find our voice and use it. There’s even a touch of a lesson about the political process buried inside this story.
This Is how We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the World written & illustrated by Matt Lamothe
When I first read this book, I thought it wasn’t all that unique. Each spread shows how children in various parts of the world do things throughout their days like eat lunch, go to school and do chores. The cool part of this book appears on the very last page when you meet the real families that inspire the seven kids throughout the pages. When it is more important than ever to understand the people who are different from us, reading this book was a great way to spend some time.
Picture Books to Make You Smile
You Must Bring a Hat! written by Simon Phillip & illustrated by Kate Hindley
This might just be my favorite picture book of the year. A little boy receives a invitation to a party and goes about following all the requirements for attendance. I know this does not sound fun, but believe me, it is!
Professional Crocodile written by Giovanna Zoboli & Mariachiara di Giogio
I am not one for wordless picture books so when Sally brought me this one I was confused. But then I read the book. There is a major spoiler in this one so I will not say anything else about this book other than, read it.
Danny McGee Drinks the Sea by written by Andy Stanton & illustrated by Neal Layton
Danny McGee is a little boy who consumes everything in sight. Or at least almost everything. This is one of those books that I know will make children of all ages laugh out loud.
*And now I’m going to climb up on to my soap box for a moment so consider yourself warned. The girls don’t read a ton of picture books anymore as I mentioned above but this has not stopped me from buying them. In much the same way that we give money to NPR each month, I buy books, even hardcover books, from The Curious Reader at least once a month. I do not take for granted the luxury we have to be able to walk in to a bookstore with owners who know us as readers and who stock books that we would not know about on our own. We can talk a lot about how great independent book stores are but unless we spend money in them, they will go away. And don’t get me wrong, I still go to the library. I use a Kindle and it is possible that I buy some books in other locations (shhh… don’t tell Sally and Chris) but I always make sure to buy books at our favorite brick and mortar store. Thank you Curious Reader for being there for us!