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!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Day 164: Frederick

I love the feeling of reading a book for the first time and being immediately captivated by the language.  Some authors are truly gifted in their ability to create vivid pictures and evoke tremendous emotion and feeling in their writing, even when using the simplest of language.  They craft their words so beautifully on the page that every once in a while, I almost get choked up reading a line or two.  For me, Barbara Cooney, Donald Hall, and Cynthia Rylant are some such authors that come to mind.  After reading Frederick, I have added Leo Lionni to this list, too.

Frederick tells the story of a family of mice diligently preparing for the winter ahead.  The mice busy themselves collecting corn, nuts, wheat, and straw so that their winter supplies will be plenty.  They work hard day and night -- everyone, that is, except Frederick.  While his frustrated siblings accuse Frederick of being lazy, he assures them that he is actually quite busy doing work of his own.  While the other mice scurry about collecting their necessities, Frederick collects essentials of his own:  sun rays and colors for the cold dark winter days, and perhaps most importantly, words.  "The winter days are long and many," he reminds them, "and we'll run out of things to say."  Time goes by and the snow starts to fall, and although the mice live quite contentedly for awhile, their corn and nuts and berries are soon gone.  They no longer feel like chatting and the mood in the wall has grown sullen.  It is only then that the other mice learn to see and appreciate the value of Frederick's work.  As they close their eyes and listen to him tell about the golden glow of the sun's rays and the bold colors of the red poppies among the yellow wheat, they begin to feel warmer.  Happier.  More alive.  Only then do they truly come to appreciate Frederick for the who he is.  It is sweet and beautiful and heart warming all at once.  The illustrations are wonderful, too! My son loves picking out Frederick on each page, and I love how Lionni was able to create such emotion in the eyes of his collage-crafted mice.  This story is simply beautiful in every way.

Everyone knows a Frederick:  someone whose true gifts all too often go unnoticed or unappreciated.  And let's be honest.  The world needs Fredericks.  We need dreamers and artists and people who aren't afraid to be themselves, even when others might be critical of their differences.  We need people who are willing to take time to stop and smell the flowers, even as the rest of the world rushes by.  No matter what path they ultimately pursue, I hope that my children are always able to see the beauty in the world like Frederick.


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