January 11, 2015

The Word

We are raising a child who loves books. It's so rewarding, to see her interest in the library, in bedtime readings, the written word in general. Here are five stories I like to parade out at naptime or bedtime:

5. Bus Stops (Taro Gomi, 1988)

This book tracks a bus around a vaguely San Francisco-esque city, letting riders off at various stops. Nothing fancypants. But it teaches Scout to learn how a bus functions – useful for the fantastic years to come when it becomes her only post-apocalyptic option to avoid the C.H.U.D.s and get to the nearest hover-mall.

4. Lost And Found (Oliver Jeffers, 2005)

"Once there was a boy, and one day he found a penguin at his door." Thus begins a fantastical tale that will forever lend Scout the impression that penguins are mute, idiot navigators and she's free to push off to sea in a rickety rowboat every time there's some minor penguin-related incident on the home front. Scout's interest in this book got a second wind when I started calling the boy Avery, her cousin whose name she loves to sing-song.

3. The Golden Egg Book (Margaret Wise Brown, 1947)

A rabbit stumbles upon an abandoned egg, kicks it around, throws rocks at it and rolls it down a hill – but fails to destroy the life inside. Eventually it grows tired of trying, falls asleep and accidentally incubates it, giving birth to a vengeful duckling who turns the tables on its dozing tormentor. But because ducklings are also suckers, it imprints on the bunny and they become friends. By changing every second adjective to 'sleepy', it gets Scout in a snoozy way right quick.

2. This Is Not My Hat (Jon Klassen, 2012)

A simple story, in which a pipsqueak minnow pilfers a bowler hat from a slumbering fishy behemoth and tries to justify its decision-making to the reader while on the lam. It's fun to know the thieving snot gets his just desserts off-page – though not likely in as bloody a fashion as the shifty-eyed bunny who dares poke the bear in its companion piece, I Want My Hat Back. Both books feature fabulous life lessons. Don't take what's not yours. Pick on someone your own size. If you're a crab, don't be a snitching rat. I like to read this book in the voice of a snooty Victorian-era aristocrat.

1. Where The Wild Things Are (Maurice Sendak, 1963)

I will never tire of this book. It's wonderful. I started Scout on it while she was really young, unsure of what effect the presence of so many monsters in her head just before bedtime might have. But she's been cool with it. There's a spread in which brave Max instructs the Wild Things to BE STILL, knocking them to their butts in fear – and Scout leans in on these pages and shouts BOO (translation: "Yeah, you bunch of clowns, be still"). She also used to like how Max would chase his dog down the stairs with a fork, but lately not so much.

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