Recently my family rented last summer’s hit Despicable Me. It is one of those delightful movies that even adults can enjoy because it contains a measure of adult humor. My husband’s favorite scene is the one in which Gru, villain and adoptive father, reads a bedtime story (Three Sleepy Kittens) to his three new daughters. Disgusted with the triteness of the text, Gru exclaims, “This is literature? A two year old could have written this!” Now, there is not a parent alive who cannot relate to that sentiment.
Literature, like beer and goat cheese, is an acquired taste. So why not start early? There are many worthwhile picture books that offer opportunities to teach young children new vocabulary as well as virtues and life lessons. They also contain attractive illustrations that can often be a launching pad for discussion. Above all, however, a good picture book is one which an adult can read, without skipping any words, hundreds of times without going insane.
Below are a few of my favorite picture books, some of which I have already reviewed. If you have any suggestions, please send them in, and I will do my best to post a brief summary of each of them over the next few months.
Make Way for Ducklings and Blueberries for Sal, Robert McKloskey
The Empty Pot, Demi
The Little Red Lighthouse, H. & L. Ward Smith
I Loved You Before You Were Born, Anne Bowen
Maxi the Hero, Debra and Sal Barraca
Mr. Bliss, J.R.R. Tolkien
The Mitten (and others), Jan Brett
The Quiltmaker’s Gift, Jeff Brumbeau
The Seven Silly Eaters, Mary Ann Hoberman
A Small Miracle, Peter Collington
The Three Questions, Jon J. Muth
Jennifer Minicus is a mother and teacher currently living in Ridgewood, NJ.