Art&Seek Jr. is one mom‘s quest to find activities to end the seemingly endless chorus of the “I’m Bored Blues” while having fun herself. Impossible you say? Check back on Tuesdays for kid-friendly events that are fun for adults, too.
I got a request on Facebook the other day to list my top 10 favorite books. Now I ask you, what book lover can list just 10 of their favorites? Even if you were to break it up into genres it would be difficult. Plus, let’s be honest, you want the “right” books to be on your list. Much like a grocery cart filled with junk food, you know your friends are secretly judging your choices. Which is why you’re more likely to throw Plutarch’s Lives on the list, even though you’re more of a fan of Flowers in the Attic which, let’s face it, would never make the list.
I stewed about this for a couple of days and then I came up with the perfect solution. I’d list my 10 favorite children’s books. Not books from my childhood, or the top 10 quintessential children’s books of all time, but rather, 10 books I’ve found serendipitously these past few years on our weekly jaunt to the library. They’re in no particular order, but all of them are fun stories. Bonus: They all have exceptional messages and wonderful illustrations, which, as every parent knows, is essential when it comes to bedtime storytelling.
After you’re done perusing this list and you’ve checked out your books, be sure to check out the fun at some of these local libraries.
1. Crispin: The Pig Who Had It All by Wilson Gage
What it’s about: Crispin’s been given every toy imaginable, but sadly all that stuff doesn’t make him happy. In fact, he’s one lonely little piglet. It takes an empty cardboard box to make Crispin realize that an imagination–and friends–are better than all the toys in the world.
2. Boris and Bella by Carolyn Crimi
What it’s about: Bella Lagrossi and Boris Kleanitoff are the Oscar and Felix of the monster world (she’s messy and he’s neat, for those of you who didn’t get the Odd Couple reference). Their disdain for each other is pretty extreme until a Halloween party brings them together and makes them realize they’re perfect for each other–warts and all.
3. Princess Justina Albertina by Ellen Dee Davidson
What it’s about: No doubt about it, Princess Justina Albertina is a royal pain in the patootie. She throws a fit and her poor nanny is forced to search the ends of the earth for the perfect pet, but Princess JA is never satisfied. This cautionary tale reminds children that getting everything you want isn’t a good thing.
4. The Teddy Bear by David McPhail
What it’s about: The sweet story of a beloved teddy bear who’s accidentally thrown out and then rescued by a homeless man who makes the bear his constant companion. When the young owner discovers his lost bear in the park, he sees the depth of love the man has for the bear and selflessly lets the man keep him. This book always brings a tear to my eye and is a great reminder that you’re never too young for compassion.
5. Babushka’s Doll by Patricia Polacco
What it’s about: Natasha is an impatient child who wants things right now. But Babushka is busy tending to goats and hanging laundry so Natasha is just going to have to wait, which, as you can guess, doesn’t go over well. After lunch Natasha gets a hard lesson in patience from none other than Babushka’s plucky (and persistent) doll. It doesn’t take Natasha long to realize why Babushka only played with the doll once when she was a little girl and why she’s been on a shelf all these years.
6. Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper
What it’s about: In a small white cabin deep in the woods three friends (a cat, a squirrel and a duck) live together in harmony. They make music together, sing together, and make pumpkin soup together. Everything is great until one day, duck decides instead of his usual job of adding the salt, he wants to stir the soup. An all out kerfuffle ensues among the friends and it looks like the happy trio might be no more. This book reminds kids that even good friends fight from time to time and a heartfelt apology (along with compromise) can always make things better.
7. The Friend by Sarah Stewart
What it’s about: This is one of those books that the kids will love, but the adults will love more. Belle is an odd little kid who is left in the care of Bea while her free-wheeling parents circumnavigate the globe. Belle and Bea spend their days in the big house by the sea doing ordinary things until one day when tragedy nearly strikes and Bea saves the day. The book’s dedication says it all, “To all the people across the world who have saved the lives of children by paying attention when others did not—but especially to Ola Beatrice Smith.”
8. Harriett You’ll Drive Me Wild by Mem Fox
What it’s about: Anyone who’s a parent knows that kids can really get on your nerves. You know how it goes. It’s one thing right after another and another and another until finally–BOOM! It’s exploding ketchup pack city. They don’t mean to be pesky, they just are. It’s in their DNA. This book tells the story of Harriett, who tries, but just can’t help getting into trouble. Her long-suffering mother tries to be patient with Harriett, but finally (and predictably) she loses it. But don’t worry–the book is funny and everyone can relate.
9. The Prince Won’t Go To Bed by Dayle Ann Dodds
What it’s about: More than a few of you out there can relate to the problem of princes (or princesses) who won’t go to bed. In this story, the whole kingdom is losing sleep because of one very loud prince. Everyone joins in to try to put the prince to bed but nothing seems to work. Every verse ends with “‘WAA! WAA! WAA! I will not go to bed!’ the teeny-tiny, itty-bitty, little Prince said.” I can’t guarantee this book will make bedtime any easier in your house, but this sing-songy rhyming book will at least get them in the right frame of mind.
10. Pirates Don’t Change Diapers by Melinda Long
What it’s about: In this is a sequel to the wildly popular How I Became A Pirate, Braid Beard and his band of pirates return to Jeremy Jacobs house to continue their hunt for buried treasure. When the motley crew accidentally wakes up Jeremy’s little sister we quickly learn that pirates don’t make the best babysitters. My favorite moment is when Jeremy asks for help rocking the screaming baby and the pirates break out the air guitars instead. Not THAT kind of rocking!
Speaking of pirates, did you know that this Friday is International Talk Like A Pirate Day? (How’s THAT for a segue, folks) To celebrate the occasion the East Branch of the Irving Public Library is holding their own Talk Like a Pirate event. Kids of all ages can learn how to talk like a salty dog, make crafts and tell pirate jokes. Why are pirates called pirates? They just arrrrrre!
Rainbow Loom owners listen up. The Emily Fowler Branch of the Denton Public Library is holding a Rubber Band Bracelet Workshop this Thursday at 4:30 p.m. Kids 6 to 10 can learn how to make fancy bracelets using various loom techniques. Here’s hoping all those teensy little multicolored rubber bands will finally make it into a bracelet instead of spread out all over the house.
Here’s a great excuse to check out the fabulous Children’s Center at the Dallas Public Library downtown. On Saturday at 2 p.m. come listen to master storyteller Blanca Reyna tell the story of Los Voladores (The Flying Men) and what they did to bring the rains back to their village in Veracruz. After the story, kids can create their own wings to take home! Don’t worry about trying to find parking downtown. The library has underground parking and an elevator that will zip you straight up to the 2nd floor.
Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month at the Central Branch of the Fort Worth Public Library for Vaqueros y Mas. Kids can learn all about the history and traditions of the vaquero and see a Mexican fancy roping demonstration. There will also be mariachi musicians and refreshments. The fun all happens Saturday at 2 p.m.
Got to run to the mall on Sunday? Then be sure to stop by BookMarks at NorthPark for KraftyKids. Your teeny tykes can make a seasonal craft and pick out a book. If that’s not enough, here’s another reason to stop by BookMarks–they have a HUGE collection of kids movies that you check out for a week for FREE. Not to worry if you’re not coming back to the mall next week. You can return them to any branch of the Dallas Public Library.
Therese Powell is an Art&Seek calendar coordinator and KERA-TV producer. She spends most of her free time seeking out adventures for her 9-year-old daughter, Rose. Tell us about your ideas for quirky kid adventures by leaving a comment. Or e-mail Therese at [email protected].