"God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him."
(1 Jn 4:16)

Picture Books

Thanks to some excellent and sometimes just plain entertaining picture books, as a child, I embarked on what will most likely be a lifelong enjoyment of reading. My youngest sister had the 23 book set of Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit books and even though I was four years older than her, I liked taking these books off of the  shelf and reading them to myself.  For my seventh Christmas, I was given Holly Hobbie's Nursery Rhymes.  I spent hours reading the poems and looking at the beautiful illustrations.  I have seen some of my children doing the same.  My Catholic grade school librarian introduced me to Tasha Tudor by reading her Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen to my class.  I remember checking the book out from the library, just to reread the stories and look at the lovely illustrations.  My "Spiritual Godmother" gave me picture book saint biographies published by the Daughters of St. Paul, like Saint Germaine and Her Guardian Angel.  I read Norah Smaridge's saint biography Bernard often, too. In addition, to the books mentioned above, I also liked Enid Blyton's Noddy books, Curious George books by H.A Rey, Russell Hoban's Frances stories, the Little Bear books by Else Holmelund Minarik, Amelia Bedelia books by Peggy Parrish, Norman the Doorman and Corduroy by Don Freeman, and more.

The First DogShortly before I graduated from college, one of my English Professors learned that I was going to spend my summer teaching a pre-kindergarten class.  She immediately recommended that I purchase some books by Jan Brett and Eric Carle.  Knowing how much she spoke about her children when teaching, I soon found myself in Barnes and Noble.  I received an educator's discount for the first time and purchased The Mitten, The First Dog, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The four and five-year-old children in my pre-kindergarten class enjoyed listening to these stories and a few others.

Tikki Tikki TemboThe following year, I returned to college to obtain my teaching credential.  One of my favorite classes was a children's literature class in which we shared children's stories by reading them aloud or from memory, depending on the assignment.  This was the first time that I heard of Strega Nona by Tomie de Paola.  I also discovered or rediscovered The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti by Gerald McDermott, Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton, The Five Chinese Brothers by Claire Huchet Bishop, Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina,  Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag, and The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco.  I have revisited these books many times over the years.

Big red barn (BookFestival)While getting my teaching credential, I married the man of my dreams and one year after that we had our first child.  A friend gave us Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and Big Red Barn, broadening our picture book horizons even more.  Big Red Barn has remained a favorite among all of my little children over the years.  Some of us even know this story from memory.  At this time, my husband also started finding and recommending some great books.  Two of the books that he has found and recommended over the years are Brigid's Cloak: An Ancient Irish Story by Bryce Milligan and Abbie Against the Storm: The True Story of a Young Heroine and a Lighthouse by Marcia K. Vaughan.

As soon as my oldest daughter was old enough, I took her and her baby sister to the library every one or two weeks.  We checked out the books mentioned above that we did not own and we had fun discovering some great books on the library shelves, including One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey, Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney, The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Frazee, Rabbits and Raindrops by Jim Arnosky, Big Sister and Little Sister by Charlotte Zolotow, St. Patrick's Day in the Morning by Eve Bunting, Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully, My Cats Nick And Nora by Isabelle Harper, Baby In a Basket by Gloria and Ted Rand, and plenty of books by Tomie de Paola.  As we did so, we made note of those authors and illustrators who we liked and we continued to find and check out more books by them.  This sometimes led us to find new books by other authors and/or illustrators and so we continued to read, look at, and learn from more picture books.

The Weight of a Mass: A Tale of FaithEventually, I joined a Catholic homeschooling group and started going to support group meetings.  I was happy to learn about The Weight of a Mass: A Tale of Faith by Josephine Nobisso and The Squire and the Scroll: A Tale of the Rewards of a Pure Heart by Jennie Bishop from a member of our group.  Today, we no longer visit the library as often as we once did and I no longer go to support group meetings, but we still like picture books.  I tend not to look at book lists, but I will occasionally find a good recommendation on Love2Learn, someone's blog, or our library's online catalog.

Rechenka's Eggs (Paperstar)This past winter, I decided to start organizing some of the books that we read into picture book baskets.  These baskets do not contain all of the picture books that we read each month because I am always open to reading whatever my children request or bring to me and I also check out some books to review.  Many of the latter will most likely eventually make their way into one of the monthly baskets.  Since Easter can fall in either March or April, I decided to make a separate Easter Picture Book Basket.  I will occasionally add a good book or two to an already filled basket, so do check back.  Links to the picture book baskets that I have put together, so far, can be found in the lefthand sidebar of my blog and below:

 A Gift of Gracias: The Legend of Altagracia
Brigid's Cloak: An Ancient Irish Story

St. Patrick's Day in the Morning (Clarion books)

Petook: An Easter Story

The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship: A Russian Tale

Make Way for Ducklings

As a mother, I am thrilled to see the books above launch my children on a journey that will hopefully include a lifetime enjoyment of reading.

I hope that mothers, fathers, and children who hear or read some or all of the books mentioned above will find pleasure in doing so.  May God bless the authors and illustrators who provide our children with worthwhile picture books!  

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