Story time is the best time of the day. Whether we're snuggled up on the couch or cozy in our pjs before bed, reading stories with my little ones is one of my favorite things to do. Everyone has a favorite book they remember from their childhood, and every day, parents and kids are discovering new classics of their own. There are many fabulous children's books out there, some of which everyone knows about and others we would have never discovered had my son not simply pulled a random book off a library shelf. I created this blog to share some of these wonderful stories with you. Think of it as a year's worth of the best children's books around, since no day should be without a great story. In the end, I hope we'll all have discovered at least a few new titles that will have made their way onto our list of family favorites. Enjoy!
Choosing what to name our children was always an exciting and important decision. Both times I was pregnant, we found out what we were having -- the first time a boy, the second a girl -- and I loved knowing so that, among other reasons, I could start calling the baby by name. My husband and I were very much on the same page when it came to selecting names, fortunately, both preferring classic names to trendy or unique ones. Both of our children have very traditional English names: Will and Emma. I'll admit that as teachers, two other factors crossed our minds during our name selection process: when our children's teachers looked at their class rosters someday, they would be able to pronounce their names properly and know whether they were looking for a boy or a girl. Silly, perhaps, but true. We also hoped that our children would love their names, since to us, they were as perfect as our little ones themselves. Chrysanthemum's parents felt much the same way. "Her name must be everything she is," said her mother. "Her name must be absolutely perfect," said her father. And it was." Chrysanthemum, Chrysanthemum, Chrysanthemum. Kevin Henkes has created another masterpiece is this adorable and clever story. Chrysanthemum loved every thing about her name -- the way it sounded when her mother woke her up or her father called her for dinner, the way it looked when she saw it written in ink on an envelope, in icing on her birthday cake, and when she wrote it herself with her fat orange crayon -- until she started school. Other students laughed when the teacher read her name during roll call, and girls teased her: "It's so long... It scarcely fits on your name tag... You're named after a flower!" Each day after school, Chrysanthemum returns home feeling a bit sad and wilted, and each evening her parents manage to cheer her up. Still, Chrysanthemum can't help but wish she had a different name... that is, until she meets the ever-so-fabulous music teacher, Mrs. Delphinium Twinkle. Like so many of Henkes' books, this story is wonderful on many levels. He is a master of addressing issues that are common among preschoolers and elementary aged children (in this case, teasing and wanting to fit in), while at the same time teaching children more appropriate ways to behave and treat one another. In this case, he celebrates the beauty of being yourself and not only appreciating differences in one another, but celebrating them. I also LOVE his illustrations and the way in which he portrays the unconditional love of his characters' parents. There are so many clever little details in his drawings that are not to be missed: the hilarious face on the very pregnant Mrs. Twinkle's dress, the map of Wisconsin and its cheese on the bulletin board, and especially the books Chrysanthemum's father can be seen reading throughout the story -- The Inner Mouse Vol. 1: Childhood Anxiety and A Rose by any Other Name... Understanding Identity. We highly recommend this book to any young reader, particularly one whose name is different or who might be teased by her peers. If you love Kevin Henkes as much as we do, you won't be disappointed.
As anyone living in New England will tell you, this winter's weather has been particularly brutal. Consequently, my family and I have spent a lot of time cozied up on the couch reading stories and sipping hot cocoa, and have made many trips to our local library. I just love the feeling of discovering a wonderful new story, but often find it is not as easy as it might seem (though perhaps this is because I am usually chasing my 3 year old around the library or trying to keep my 6 month old from chewing on all of the books.) So begins my quest to find a great new book to read to my little ones every day for a year. And I don't mean just any good book. I mean one that I won't mind reading 10 times in a row. One that we'll read so often and love so much that we'll need to go out and get our own copy. My friends have shared their personal favorites with me and I am happy to do the same with you. Thanks for joining our journey!
Busy Mom Disclaimer:
Ideally, my great-book-a-day-for-a-year blog would have one amazing post for each calendar day and be all neat and tidy like that. But I know myself too well. And besides, I'm looking for the best of the best here. I don't want to settle on posting about a book that I don't love, simply to be able to add something new every day. So, my posts will simply be numbered 1 to 365. In the end, we'll still have a year's worth of good books (or so I hope!) Hopefully you'll find my list to be worth the wait. And please, by all means, if there is a book you love that you think should make the list, let me know. Just leave a comment telling me the title and author and I would love to check it out. I'll be sure to give credit where credit is due. Thank you!
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