(Favorite corner of the living room.)
Books really began to capture her when she was about six months old; we would pull her onto our laps and open up a story and she would lean forward and look, top to bottom, left to right, taking in everything on the pages. Sometimes, she would begin to turn a page and then suddenly stop and look again, as if she'd missed something the first time. (Or if we began to turn before she was ready, look out! Slap! Her little hand came down on the page to keep us from turning.)
And I think one of my favorite things to see is Gideon, if his sister gets hurt or is sad, sitting down with a book and patting his lap; Evangeline smiles big through her tears and crawls or walks right over to him, snuggling contentedly into his folded legs. He "reads" it to her (almost perfectly, for he knows almost all of these stories by heart!), and all is well for a few more minutes. :)
Truthfully, the foundation of Evangeline's book basket is made up of favorites that have been tried and tested with each of our children- some are even the original copies; chewed-up corners, scribbled pages and all. Some Dr. Seuss, Stan and Jan Berenstain, Helen Oxenbury, Eric Carle, Margaret Wise Brown, etc. Familiar, yes?
Well, this time around Evangeline has fallen in love with some new (to me!) books, and I'd love to share them with you here.
Gyo Fujikawa. Anything by Gyo Fujikawa. If this author is old news to you, I apologize, but perhaps my recent discovery has to do with the way these sweet books evoke a fuzzy warmth and quiet that Evangeline especially responds to.
She also adores this little four-book set, and I adore their size; perfect for tucking into the diaper bag and holding in a highchair or car seat.
Fujikawa's artwork is so precious; full of babies and animals, children climbing trees and reenacting nursery rhymes, loving each other and sometimes being naughty... so much on every page to enjoy! And reading Sleepy Time, Evangeline's favorite bedtime book, helped her learn what sound an owl makes: Ooo, ooo! she earnestly hoots with each sighting.
So, of course when the gently lilting rhyme of the incomparable Margaret Wise Brown (Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, etc.) is matched with the colorful line drawings of Felicia Bond (If You Give a Mouse a Cookie), the book immediately becomes a treasure. If the amount of times Evangeline chooses this book to be read backtobacktoback is any indication, toddlers love it. It has the perfect mix of descriptive prose with matching illustrations, and it comes to a conclusion so softly that I find myself whispering the last four pages or so. Another excellent bedtime story.
My Good Morning Book and My Goodnight Book are two precious (out-of-print but still easy to find!) stories to begin your day, fill your day, and end it. Eloise Wilkin, another author/illustrator I'm sure you are familiar with, described the simplicity of children's days beautifully in her prose, and displayed it perfectly in her art. Again, so much to see on every page; here Evangeline signs "bird" for a robin in the garden; and there she laughs as mama bathes the baby (baths are her favorite!).
Oh, mamas (and daddies!), are you reading aloud to your children? Never underestimate the powerful influence reading aloud holds; your voice, combined with excellent storytelling, will not only create matchless memories for your children but it will work wonders for their language and grammar skills.
And don't be too caught up in matching their ages to the reading level of a book- the previous reviews are for Evangeline's favorite books in her basket, but she sits happily with us at the dinner table while I read aloud from Nesbit's The Story of the Treasure Seekers (free for Kindle and such an excellent story!), and crawls around playing quietly while Kevin reads to Eliana and Gideon from The Hobbit. The beloved voice of a parent is soothing to every child. (For an excellent podcast that has ministered to my mama's heart so much this past year on this very subject, listen here: an absolutely wonderful use of an hour of your time while you fix supper or fold laundry.)
(No affiliate links- just sharing what we love!)