Monday, March 10, 2014

Book-a-Month Club

   It's not your normal Book-of-the-Month Book Club, but rather my personal spin on it and one that has quickly become a much appreciated and anticipated tradition in our family. As a library/media specialist's daughter, my house, like my Momma's and her mother's before her, is filled with books. There are bookshelves in nearly every room filled to overflowing, there are books in cabinets, and books stacked under beds. There are books in the attic and books in the playroom. I guess you could say that books are somewhat of an obsession of mine.
   One of the best things about being a grandmother is digging out old favorites. I am thankful that in one of those many cabinets filled with books are all the oldies, but goodies, my own children loved.  Some are missing pages. Some are so dog-eared and so faded that they bear little resemblance to the original. As do many of you, I delight in reading these timeless treasures to my grandchildren. There is nothing sweeter than the joy of exploration and discovery as seen through the eyes of a child.
   Thus when my daughter became pregnant with her first child, I began a tradition of giving her a book for every month of her pregnancy. And not just any book, but a book she had loved and read as a child. The major criteria for my purchase was that it must have been a book that I remembered seeing her return to over and over again. daughter. I have continued the tradition with both of my daughters-in-law, selecting books that their husbands, my sons, had counted among their favorites.
   Everyone thus far has been gifted with a copy of the perennial touch-and-feel book for babies and toddlers: Pat the Bunny. Who can't win with this little book? It never fails to enchant with it's simplistic and 50's style illustrations!
   Don't ask me why, but Daddy's beard was everybody's favorite page and the first to disintegrate. We must have gone through five or six copies of this little treasure. Each child had his or her own copy and then I purchased a few extra for emergencies.

Next up for everyone was another classic: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. Who would think that children would love a book about monsters, but there is just something so glorious about these monsters. They are just so....loveable. And every child in our family wore this book out. I don't know about you, but who doesn't want to "let the wild rumpus begin"!!!

    A few years back when we made a family trip to Boston, each adult child made it a point to stop by to see the ducklings, i.e., the brass ducklings erected in the Boston Public Gardens in honor of the wonderful Momma Duckling and her babies made famous in "Make Way for Ducklings" by Robert McCloskey. And here they are in all their glory: Jack, Mack, Kack, Lack, Nack, Oack, Pack, and Quack. We were on first name basis with these little guys for a long time!

This book is multi-generational in our family: it is one that I also loved as a child!

And here's another favorite that everybody gets because it reminds us all about the
 power of love and how important it is to become "real."
The Velveteen Rabbit, Or How Toys Became Real by Margery Williams
I'm always amazed when I stop to consider the wisdom found in this little book.
Here's a little snippet for you to enjoy.
"What is REAL?" asked the rabbit one day. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
   "Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long,long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
     "Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
    "Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are REAL you don't mind being hurt."
   "Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?" 
   "It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real, you can't be ugly except to people who don't understand. 

I really believe I learned more about life philosophy from children's books than any course I took in college. It's another reason why I love giving these books to my grandbabies.

Two of my four children were also enamored with the book about the
 little bear who lives in a department store, waiting for someone to take him home.
And while my daughter loved anything illustrated by the inimitable Tasha Tudor...

the boys, on the other hand were completely besotted with any
 and everything written and illustrated by Richard L. Scarry
Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things that Go Image
These books were so "busy" that they drove me crazy at times, 
but everybody loved looking for goldbug!

See if you can guess the name of this famous book...??

Yes, that's the Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, Who wouldn't love a caterpillar who eats Swiss cheese, cupcakes, sausages, lollipops and watermelons, among other things!

Next up is a series of books that make me smile. They weren't around when my children were little, but I am giving them to the grandchildren for one major reason.
Baby Llama has lots of drama...and so did all of mine!

My children were also great friends of the Man in the Yellow Hat and his famous sidekick, George.
Somehow, George's antics seemed all too familiar!

And for some reason, Babar was a much beloved read-aloud for everyone. There is something magical about an elephant in a green suit and the little old lady from Paris who takes him in. I am certain
that De Brunhoff may now be viewed as being politically incorrect, but I will not be teaching
Babar as a purveyor of truth...he is the product of a vivid and and incredible imagination ...
something I hope to inspire in my grandchildren, as well!

Happy Reading!

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