Friday, September 10, 2010

A Couple Of Five-Year-Olds Favorite Picture Books - by Kimberly Gee

My family and I spent the weekend at the beach for a bit of down time before the more hectic pace of Fall. My twins are beginning Kindergarten, so my I mood has been wistful and reflective. Also, (let’s be real) I've been looking forward to this because I’ll have time to work! Whole hours! 
As my kids were packing their book sacks, I reflected on what their favorite books have been over the years. I thought Finn and Claire’s short list of favorite books would be fun to share, as a kind of field report from those in the know. 
Brief notes about how I edited their list: 
1. They are picture books, no non-fiction or mass market. 
2. I did not include the obvious, huge classics (Good Night Moon, Where the Wild  Things Are, anything Suess or Carle), although some are huge names in children’s   literature (Don Wood, Barbara Cooney). 
3. My kids have asked me to read them so many times that we have them practically memorized.  
A Couple of Five Year Olds’ Favorite Books:
The Big Hungry Bear by Audrey and Don Wood
King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub by Audrey and Don Wood
I Stink by Kate and Jim McMullan
Unlovable by Dan Yaccarino
Stop that Pickle by Peter Armour, Illustrated by Andrew Shachat
The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman, Illustrated by Marla Frazee

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
How do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight, by Jane Yolen, Illustrated by Mark Teague
The Little Red Hen by Paul Galdone
Oxcart Man by Barbara Cooney
Themes I noticed from this list: 
Many of the books engage the senses. That is, more senses than the visual and auditory. For instance my kids are drawn to books with food in them. There is an actual bite sized and shaped chunk missing from the feast spread in our copy of King Bidgood.  I Stink has some illustrations of puppy poo, moldy meatballs, and dirty diapers. Not only is this hilarious, but my kids will hold their noses and wave their hands. 
They have distinct moods or attitudes, wether it’s funny, quiet, or silly. I love the attitude of I Stink. What a brilliant job of capturing the cocky spirit of a trash truck. I love the quiet rhythms of life, work and seasons in Oxcart Man
They deal with kid’s reality, like being picked on (Unlovable andChyrsanthemum), like not wanting to get out of the tub (King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub), and not wanting to go to bed (How do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight). 
Of course, it’s possible my theories are all wet. I asked my kids why they loved these books, and I got much simpler explanations. Here’s what Finn said about I Stink, “it has moldy meatballs”, and about Oxcart Man,"the ox has a nose ring". Claire likes Chrysanthemum because of her pretty dress with the sun on it. Hmmm. While I’m trying to figure out the chemistry of what makes a book a favorite, I think my kids are trying to tell me that they just know it when they see it (or hear it, or taste it, or smell it...)

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