I would like to leave you with some recommendations of my favorite children’s books. For younger children, any book by the picture-book star Kevin Henkes would be a hit for your child. Henkes has his finger on the pulse of what makes small children tick, as in “Waiting,” in which a child lines up toys on a windowsill and imagines adventures.
Another favorite is “Finding Winnie,” by Lindsay Mattick and illustrated by Sophie Blackall, last year’s Caldecott Medal winner. It tells the true story of how Winnie the Pooh got his name. In it we learn about a World War I soldier who adopted a bear he named Winnie. When he goes to the front, he finds a safe place for his pet in the London Zoo, where a little boy (Christopher Robin), falls in love with him and names his stuffed teddy bear after him.
Another winner among many is the 1958 classic, “The Rabbits’ Wedding,” by Garth Williams. This is the story of consummate sweetness, about a rabbit that wants always to be with his playmate, and so they are eventually wed.
For older readers another classic, “A Little Princess,” by Frances Hodgson Burnett, is, in my opinion, one of the most touching and powerful books ever written for older elementary school children. It tells the story of a brave little girl who endures hardship and emerges triumphant because of her inherent courage and goodness. She is not a real princess, but one in spirit, and a role model for us all.
Equally compelling in an entirely different way in Brian Selznick’s “Wonderstruck.” Two stories, one told completely in illustration and taking place 50 years apart, converge in a magical way.
Another group not to be missed is the many wonderful biographies for children. They are beautifully illustrated and written in a more lively way than they used to be, and often introduce us to people we might be unfamiliar with.
For example, “A Splash of Red: the Life and Art of…