I LOVE children’s books. I have always liked reading, but I think my earliest memory with children’s books is actually when my youngest brother was around 3-4 years old. He is 10 years younger than I am, and probably because he was the baby of the family… my parents got him a big set of children’s books. It was a collection of “masterpieces” and I think “The Very Hungry Caterpillar(Japanese version)” was in it. He also had this awesome gigantic book you can spread open with various shops and people in town drawn in it. You can make a mock town with the book. I remember playing with it with my lil’ bro.
About 10 years ago, when my first born son was around 3 or 4, I was visiting my parents’ place in Sasebo. My mom is an notorious pack rat, and I was going through one of the closets to see if there’s anything worth taking back to Canada. There I found my brother’s book collection. At that time, my brother was probably just finishing high school and he had no interest in his childhood books. He’s not much of a reader anyway. I remember I was so excited to see those books and brought some back to Japan.
Since then, I had my second son and he is almost 3 now. To my delight, he loves reading. We read every night before bed, but it’s not uncommon for me to catch him pouring over his books alone or he brings me a book and ask me to read it for him. I have kept my little brother’s Japanese books and my older son’s books, so he has a pretty good collection now. Besides, we have Tall Tales Books, locally owned bookstore specializing in children’s books in just a walking distance from my house.
We love going to Tall Tales and I love chatting with the owner Drew (and sometimes his wife, Kate) about kids’ books. I have come to realize, for me, kids’ books need to have beautifully illustrated and has to have a good story to make the cut to be my favourite books. Drew is well aware of this, and he often makes good recommendations for me, which I really appreciate.
The reason why I love children’s books is probably because usually they are short and we can enjoy them again and again. And because they’re for children, you are almost forced to keep it simple, yet to create a good story.
I was just reading to my son tonight, (we read 5 books tonight) and since I love them so much I thought I should really write about them. I think I’d start a new category on my blog on “My favourite children’s books”. It would be my pleasure if you could learn about them and also give me your recommendations.
So, without further ado….the first book I’ll write about is one of the books I read tonight, “Something from nothing”
Written by Phoebe Gilman
“When Joseph was a baby, his grandfather made him a wonderful blanket…to keep him warm and cozy and to chase away bad dreams”
But as Joseph grows older, of course the blanket gets older too. His mom tells him “It is time to throw it out!”
But Joseph says “Grandpa can fix it!” and every time, his grandpa manages to make something from the old material.
It’s a story adapted by Jewish folktale. I remember first seeing this book at a friend’s house. I was intrigued by the title and soon got a copy for myself.
I love the detailed illustration. Each page is a portrait of people’s lives in Joseph’s village. There are also separate pictures of a mouse family underneath the texts. My toddler is still a little too young to notice them, but my older son loved following the mouse family’s story, too.
Repetition is the key in children’s books. There is this wonderful repetition part in this book that goes “”Hmm”, he said as scissors went snip, snip, snip and his needle flew in and out and in and out…”, where I made up a move to gesture the scissors and sewing with my hand, and my toddler loves that. We always do the movement together.
Some might say the story is a little predictable, but I absolutely love the ending. Still makes me smile every time I read it. If you haven’t read this yet I highly recommend it.
Recommended age: 3-8
Scholastic Canada Ltd.