This was Mayer’s first book, published in 1975, and it was an instant classic, thanks to the honesty with which it portrays a common phenomenon: a kid trying to help his mom out, but goofing up the job. “I wanted to wash the floor just for you, but the soap was too bubbly,” he says, as soap bubbles fill the floor and fly up into the air and his mom has a weary look that many of us can relate to. Even though Little Critter’s mom is frequently exasperated in this book, she’s more often amused by his missteps, and in the end enjoys his bedtime kiss.
I pulled together seven mindfulness-based illustrated children’s books published over the last year that are worthy of a closer look. I lugged them around in a canvas bag on a road trip with my eight-year-old and two-year-old daughters, who were more than happy to add their insights and judgments. We gave them each multiple read-throughs in a range of places, times and environments, allowing the message of mindfulness to sink in deeply, and giving the books more than one chance to impress us. Here’s what we discovered.
This story brings to life part of the adult world to children who want to know what people do all day. There are examples of jobs and a connection made from one person to another. It gives the reader the sense that we are all connected, and the each profession is not only important to itself, but is dependent on and supportive of the other jobs out there. Reading it together may offer windows of opportunities to discuss with even the youngest children the importance of work, money, and being helpful to others. Richard Scarry has a way with connecting pictures and stories to keep the interest and draw the reader back again
In 1942, Simon & Schuster began publishing the Little Golden Books, a series of inexpensive, well illustrated, high quality children's books. The eighth book in the series, The Poky Little Puppy, is the top selling children's book of all time. Many of the books were bestsellers, including The Poky Little Puppy, Tootle, Scuffy the Tugboat, The Little Red Hen. Several of the illustrators for the Little Golden Books later became staples within the picture book industry. Corinne Malvern, Tibor Gergely, Gustaf Tenggren, Feodor Rojankovsky, Richard Scarry, Eloise Wilkin, and Garth Williams. In 1947 Goodnight Moon written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd was published. By 1955, such picture book classics as Make Way for Ducklings, The Little House, Curious George, and Eloise, had all been published. In 1955 the first book was published in the Miffy series by Dutch author and illustrator Dick Bruna.
Watty Piper and Loren Long brought us this inspiring story of a little train engine many years ago and it is still inspiring and encouraging millions of people, children and adults alike. When the little train gets stuck at the bottom of a hill, the little engine keeps his focus, and keeps telling himself “I think I can, I think I can” until eventually he makes it to the top of the hill. The message this leaves the reader with is one of how important it is to be determined, persevere, and never stop trying. One of the most inspirational children’s books ever, this one is a classic.
This story by Alison McGhee and Peter Reynolds is one that will touch the heart of any mother and child. A mother reflecting on her love for her child, and imagining each milestone with beautifully illustrated watercolor pictures, will draw you in. From that first meeting at the moment of birth to holding hands as they cross the street to riding a bike for the first time to seeing her grown up daughter waving goodbye, this story will keep you reading and maybe touch a part of you that has been hiding. Reading it with your children may offer both of you a sentiment that is only brought on by being deeply moved.
This story, completely done in pictures by David Wiesner, is a delightful depiction of a little girl who finds a magic book and is shown the way to the place inside the book by maps, landmarks, and a boy who is in the book and shows her where she is. After school, she buys some helium filled balloons and floats away, but while she is on her way to the magical land of the book, she drops the book. As she goes higher and higher, she sees another child pick up the book. When the book is opened, the person who found it sees the girl with the balloons reach the desired area, and the cycle begins all over again. Imaginative and charming, this is one of those picture books that you will want to look at over and over again.
Ferdinand has been one of the most beloved characters of many children over the last fifty years. He is different than other young bulls. They all love to run, jump, play, and be as rowdy as they can be, but Ferdinand likes the peace and quiet that he finds under his cork tree. Sitting in the shade while the others are out in the hot sun playing and laughing, Ferdinand is quite content. That is until he has a bad experience with a bee. Unfortunately for Ferdinand, the bee sting happens when the rodeo men have come to choose the best young bull to have in a bullfight. Ferdinand, with all of his jumping and snorting from that horrible bee sting, is just what they want. Joining him as he experiences the bullfighting arena and seeing how he handles it will be something to treasure with this fun story.
My Magic Breath is a colorful manual on how to use breath as a tool that can be practiced alongside specific visualizations in order to work with negative, unwelcomed thoughts. Personally, I’m not a fan of the notion that we need to blow sad thoughts completely “off the page,” as I believe there is a place for them in the holistic narrative as well. But, using breath with positive imagery is a very effective way to create space in the psyche for more pleasant thoughts. My two-year-old—who adores blowing out fake birthday candles—really resonated with this one. Regardless of the specifics, I’m a big fan of bringing awareness to the breath, as this book most certainly does.
We have a wide range of ages in our family, from toddler to grade-schooler – and a healthy variety of reading tastes, too. And so I can’t guarantee that every kid will love every book on these lists of the best picture books, but I can tell you that every one of these books wowed my test audience of three very different kids, plus me and my husband. I’m also pretty annoying about telling friends and family to give these books as birthday and holiday and “just because” presents, and every single time they report back: Everyone loved the book! The kid and the parents.
What better way to teach babies and toddlers where each body part is than with a game and a book? Karen Katz has created one of the most interactive and teachable peek-a-boo type of stories that will help you as you and baby have fun learning. It is one of the best children’s books. Finding the belly button, the eyes, and other parts of baby’s anatomy will be exciting and fun as you make a story into a game. Interacting with the baby and the story will be one of the easiest ways to teach simple concepts. Play time, nap time, any time, this story will keep you and baby having fun for a long time
I appreciate your interest in instilling morality, but it is built on a weak foundation. You could just have them read a children's Bible.... pretty much covers all these topics... plus gives some backing for "Why" should you care. Without some reference to a "high power", there is no reason to be selfless. If there is no higher power, or final judgement..... just do what you think is best for you!!! It is called "Moral Relativism"... and its growth aligns directly with growing divisions in our society. Moral Relativism is built on sand lacking foundation for persistence when theory meets real life situations..... or as we like to say.. "All hat, No Cowboy"