Ever since we found out we were expecting triplets, one of my concerns was in assuring them of how very much each of them is cherished. I kept my eyes peeled for books that would reinforce this idea for them, and none that I have found over the years has come close to being as special as Sam McBratney’s You’re All My Favorites. (Obviously, we’re big fans of Mr. McBratney at our house.) I gave this book to the girls on their second birthday, and in the years since that day we have read it far too many times to count. It is an oft-requested favorite for their bedtime story, besides sneaking many times into the piles of books they stack up for story hour. This book is the perfect story to explain to my children how it’s possible for their dad and me to love all them the best all at the same time.
In this precious story, three little bears begin to wonder about their father’s nightly pronouncement that they are all his favorite cubs. So they question their parents, who offer the most special and loving response to each of them, convincing them in the end that they are, in spite of their differences, all the very best little bears to Mom and Dad.
I don’t want to spoil the adorable explanations given to these concerned cubs, but I can assure you that any family with more than one child would be blessed by this book. The story alone is worth reading again and again, but the addition of truly beautiful artwork by the very talented Anita Jeram helps to make it a family keepsake. I am sure my children will never forget hearing this story read to them, and I urge you to look into getting it for your own bookshelf. I have no doubt it will become a family favorite even before you reach the last page for the first time.
I suddenly realized that I haven’t yet focused on any of my son’s favorite books on this blog, and it took me less than two seconds to choose It Looked Like Spilt Milk to share with you. My little man is now just two years old, but he has LOVED this book for at least six months. Written by Charles G. Shaw, it’s a simple but brilliant book that runs through a number of shapes that something appears to imitate before finally declaring that it’s just a cloud.
Such a description doesn’t do the book justice, though. More times than I can count, my son has crawled into my lap with this book, laughing delightedly every time I “oink” like a pig or try to blow out the birthday candle, only to cover his giggles with his hands when I whisper conspiratorially into his ear than what is pictured really isn’t any of those things. And he claps his hands in excitement when I finally proclaim that we’re looking at a cloud, calling out, “Cloud!” in a happy squeal. Then he promptly grabs the book away, opens it back to the first page, and insists that I read it again and again and again. How I cherish these times together, and I’m thrilled that there are books like this one that so engage him at a young age!
Also, there are so many fun activities that could be done as an extension of this book! I’ve heard of people making their own cloud pictures with cotton balls and school glue, white paint, stamps, or tissue paper. I haven’t done any of those activities yet with my own little guy, but I’m sure he and his sisters would have a blast doing any of them! If you’ve got littles in your own home, I highly recommend this book! It is a keeper for sure.
Eleanor Estes’ The Hundred Dresses is another beautiful book that my daughters and I could hardly bear to put down each day. Written over sixty years ago, this story has never been out of print, and for good reason. It was based on the true story of the author’s classmate many years before, teased and despised for her foreign-sounding name, quiet manner, and poverty. Ms. Estes once explained that she felt terrible over what the girl endured at the school, and after the classmate had moved away, always wished she could make amends. The closest she could come to that, she remarked, was to write her story.
And what a powerful story it is. I wondered if my daughters, at just five years old, could fully grasp the impact of idle words, much less the devastating consequences of staying silent while observing cruelty in front of you. I was wrong to be concerned. They fully understood the book, begging each day for another chapter, hoping against hope that all would be resolved in the end. We had wonderful, important conversations about compassion, about opening our eyes to see beyond our own noses, about fighting cruelty with kindness. We talked about how they could show real love to kids they might meet at the park or at church or playing in the neighborhood. We role-played the various characters and examined their motivations and discussed how their regret after the fact could never erase the consequences of their actions (or inaction). We opened this book to read a good story and by the time we closed it we had gained valuable character training.
The illustrations, beautifully created by Louis Slobodkin, are found frequently throughout the book. The style of the illustrations complements the style of writing perfectly and keeps young children fully engaged with the story as it unfolds.
This books is a great story and a valuable tool in teaching your children compassion and kindness. I highly recommend it and am sure your family will enjoy it as much as mine has!
My mother and father have known each other since they were children and were high school sweethearts. Ever since I was a small child, I loved hearing stories from their younger days. For years, I excitedly helped Mom make up her bed each morning just so I could have the privilege of putting a very old Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy in the center of the pillows. Dad had given the pair to her when they were teenagers, and they’d lived on her bed ever since. Those rag dolls meant so much to Mom and in spite of their yellowed and somewhat bedraggled appearance, they seemed to represent love to me. So it didn’t surprise me when I eventually discovered that Raggedy Ann, in the original stories, was uniquely lovable.
I recently read this particular collection of Raggedy Ann stories by Johnny Gruelle to my kids, and once again I was taken in by the sweetness of the simple stories that focus on the everyday adventures of a well-loved rag doll and her toy and animal friends. This book includes an introduction to Raggedy Ann as well as seven timeless tales, beautifully illustrated by the author. My little girls loved hearing these stories about a doll and her friends and examining every old-fashioned picture. Each story was a perfect length to read to wiggly little ones in one sitting, and I think this book (and others like it) would be a delight to any family with young girls.