It is November and that means it is Picture Book Month!
Time to read and celebrate all things picture book. For me, it’s the perfect excuse to generate lists!
This week’s list? Picture books that capture the essence of childhood. With actual children in them! When I started looking at some of my favourite picture books, I realized that many of them were actually not about children. Many feature animals (bears are strangely (or not) represented) or a lot of adults. Some are about children but feature animal characters. These can be fantastic and very easy for children to connect to (I’m thinking everything Kevin Henkes does). The ones with “real children” characters can sometimes have heavy themes or be a little too forced. They don’t all ring true. We can’t pluck a character off the page and believe that child could quickly leap into a playground full of children and completely blend in. Or beautifully stand out . . .
Move into chapter books and boom, there are the kids! Marty Macguire. Clementine. Billy Miller. Flora Belle Buckman. William Spiver. Dory Fantasmagory. Piper Green. Nate Foster. Popeye and Elvis. There are no shortage of children behaving like children.
Finding them in picture books? Not as easy. Hence, my list.
These 20 titles are all about kids and all that they are. Childhood and all of the quirky, all of the lovely, all of the human, all of the unique. Sometimes the messy and challenging. Sometimes the sweet and lovely. All of it absolutely honoured and celebrated. These 20 books all hold a special place in my heart.
I would love to know which books you would add to this list and why. Please share in the comments.
Stuck by Oliver Jeffers
On the list because? Children have some interesting, not always sensible, problem solving strategies.
The Frank Show by David Mackintosh
On the list because? Kids worry about not being the coolest, the best, the greatest. Even in the Grandparent department.
Rosie Sprout’s Time to Shine, written by Allison Wortche and illustrated by Patrice Barton
On the list because? Primary students need to navigate a lot in a day – sometimes doing the most simple of things like growing seeds: envy, friendship, forgiveness, competition
Let’s Do Nothing by Tony Fucile
On the list because? Little ones have a hard time doing just nothing or even turning off their racing imaginations. Those busy brains are pure delight!
The Man with the Violin written by Kathy Stinson and illustrated by Dušan Petričić
On the list because? Children notice what we should. Especially the very beautiful and amazing things in the world.
Ben Rides On by Matt Davies
On the list because? When given the chance to do the right thing, children usually will. Eventually.
Yuyi Morales wrote and illustrated Niño Wrestles the World
On the list because? Children love to embrace the wild and amazing energy of their heroes.
Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo
On the list because? Being brave sometimes requires a little wisdom from someone who has been around for a while. Or a little magic.
Wilfred Gordon Macdonald Partridge written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Julie Vivas
On the list because? Childhood is about navigating the road between making memories and learning from the memories others share
Blizzard by John Rocco
On the list because? Snow day after snow day after snow day and the chance to be a hero. Childhood magic!
Desmond and the Very Mean Word written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams and illustrated by A.G. Ford
On the list because? Learning about forgiveness is one of childhood’s most powerful lessons. Often as adults, we still don’t have it figured out.
Float by Daniel Miyares
On the list because? Children approach rain in the best of ways. All in. Rubber boots, puddle jumping, sailing of boats!
Ask Me written by Bernard Waber and illustrated by Suzy Lee
On the list because? Little ones have lots and lots of stories to tell. If you don’t ask, they will remind you to.
Sparky! written by Jenny Offill and illustrated by Chris Appelhans
On the list because? Thee is something particularly magical about childhood faith and hope.
I’m Bored written by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi
On the list because? “I’m Bored!” is a childhood theme song! But “Kids are boring.” Those are fighting words!
This is Sadie written by Sara O’Leary and illustrated by Julie Morstad
On the list because? All children need to have a little piece of Sadie inside of them and have space to let it shine!
Harriet You’ll Drive Me Wild! written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Marla Frazee
On the list because? When you are little, it seems to be all too easy to make parents a little crazy. Just like that. Pesky is too easy. But forgiving and hugs are part of it all too.
John Patrick Norman McHennessy – the boy who was always late. by John Burningham
On the list because? Everyday holds huge imaginative possibilities. Even if others don’t quite embrace our wild stories, we persist in telling them. And maybe they are true . . .
Millie Fierce by Jane Manning
On the list because? Sometimes when we discover new found ferocity, it takes a little while to tame. Inner strength and big doses of kindness, we need them both.
Singing Away the Dark written by Caroline Woodward and illustrated by Julie Morstad
On the list because? A lone walk through the woods is a journey of many small moments of bravery. Singing to combat the fear? A perfect strategy.
How I love sharing picture book lists during this month of picture book love!
Happy Picture Book Reading!