The Pacific Northwest is covered in a haze of smoke right now, which seems to be a new reality for late summer weather. The loss of lives and homes are heartbreaking, and the environmental implications and impact are alarming. For people with asthma or health conditions, it’s harmful. For us, it’s just a nuisance. And it’s driven us all indoors over the past few weeks to look for other ways to spend our summer energy.
Luckily, Theo loves to read. It’s always been a daily activity for us, when Theo wakes up, before naps and before bedtime. But now, we’re spending more time reading, visiting the library and going to the bookstore. We have read some of our books hundreds of times, literally. Typically, when Theo gets a new book he likes, he wants to read it over and over and over again, at least 10 times the first day. I can’t tell you how many books I know by heart. And so does he.
We both get bored with the same books after a while. We do rely on the library a lot, but I also like to add to our home collection. While Theo does still read the occasional board book, we mostly read picture books these days. His attention span for a story sometimes amazes me. We love many classics, like Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and Blueberries for Sal, which I read as Blackberries for Theo. Changing the story is good practice for my brain, since I have to pay attention and change genders. Curious George is a favorite. And we’ve picked up some quirky new books lately that make it fun to play with the story line like Big Bunny and Crunch, the Shy Dinosaur.
But these are the five picture books we’ve been reading over and over the past few weeks. Three are new to our library and two we’ve had for a while. All of them have sweet, inspirational story lines that are fun for both us to read and can spark questions and conversation, even for a 2 1/2 year old. Theo is now at the age where he loves to ask questions about the meaning of words or why he doesn’t see a certain part of the story illustrated.
Five Favorite Picture Books
Blue & Bertie is a sweet book about friendship and accepting and loving people who are different from you. I love the illustrations in this book and how the colors become more varied and vibrant as Blue and Bertie start to explore the world around them.
Brave Enough for Two is another story about friendship, this one focusing on the deep trust and meaningful connection that can develop between friends, in this case, Olive and her stuffed owl, Hoot. It also teaches a powerful lesson in being brave, even when you’re scared. Something about the story and the illustrations reminds me of Winnie the Pooh.
Magnolia’s Magnificent Map is a story of exploration and friends supporting each other in reaching their goals. It’s beautifully illustrated and Theo and I love to look at the final map and tell stories about what is happening in each place. It’s a good way to talk about maps and directions, too, if you want a very practical application.
Good Day, Good Night was written by Margaret Wise Brown, the author of Goodnight Moon and it has a similar lyrical quality when read aloud. But the magic in this book is really the illustrations, which are whimsical and invite you and your little one to invent many other stories taking place within the pages of this book.
A friend gave us The Wonderful Things You Will Be before Theo was born, and I read it over and over to him as an infant. Recently, Theo has started pulling it off the shelf before bedtime, and we talk about all the things you can be in the world and the way you can be in the world. Again, this beautifully illustrated book invites dreaming and storytelling.
I hope you love these books as much as we do. Our time snuggled up reading together are often my favorite moments of the day.