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Books for Little Thinkers

March 17, 2010

Working in a preschool has its perks, as does being a mom of a two year old. One of the greatest perks of both is that I am exposed to an entirely new generation of toys, games and books about the way the world and society work. I love to learn about sharing, friendships and the things around us through smaller eyes and minds.

The downside, of course, to both, is that there is a definite bundle of repetition. The problem is this: almost everyone thinks he or she can write a children’s book. And to be honest, nearly anyone can. The prose is not extravagant; the pictures don’t have to be elaborate; the plot hardly needs to be deeper than simple morality.

It is, for this reason, that I rarely buy books for my son. Don’t worry, he reads a lot; we just prefer to view library findings rather than shell out for a dozen or so virtual replicas, give or take a little.

Every now and then, we find books that I fall head over heels in love with and he just can’t get enough of. These usually mean great pictures, however defined, and great, originally put story lines. We found three really amazing examples this week at our library and can’t stop recommending them around. Take a look!

Eddie’s Kingdom takes a stroll through a city apartment building through the eyes of young Eddie-the-Artist. He senses discord in his complex (The Peaceable, of course) and goes about unifying them in the only way he knows how: by pen and paper. Through tiny motions of kindness, he is able to gather his group of tenants together to create greater whole. The pictures are just like Johnson’s Henry series in their elegant simplicity while still maintaining their realistic overtones.  The message over all is forgiveness before all else and a strong emphasis on community.

The Muth stories are unique in that they are heavily philosophical, something mom and dad might enjoy, but are easily transferable into children’s bedtime stories based on simplicity of language, thought and illustration. They cover philosophy of importance, honor and responsibility through anecdotal teachings and questions.

All three books are enjoyable from an adult’s point of intellect but are obviously geared toward younger minds and are thus both visually and verbally entertaining for little ones. It always makes me giddy when I find good kids’ books that break the mold.

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