Why social work?
I don't really know.
The truth is, ever since first grade, all I wanted to be was a school teacher. I played school every day and had little neighborhood schools all summer long. I babysat and taught nursery school and knew all about fairy tales and fingerplays.
But declaring Elementary Ed as your major at BYU is the equivalent of changing your name to Jane Doe. Everyone at BYU is an Elementary Ed major. It was just too humiliating. I couldn't bring myself to join the permed and brainless masses.
And so I suffered through Anthropology 110 and Statistics 200 and looked forward to my bright future as a parole officer.
But at least I had my pride.
A girl who lived down the hall had followed the herd down to the McKay Education Building and joined the El Ed cult. She was raising fruit flies in a test tube and learning to decorate bulletin boards. Whatever.
I mean...didn't she know that there were only, like, three guys TOTAL in the whole program? Not that I was obsessed with guys or anything...but still. Elementary Education? No, thank you. I had brain and I was gonna use it.
And then, I heard about Children's Lit.
Wait. What? You mean, I could actually get college credit for reading Superfudge? Charlotte's Web? The Wizard of Oz?
I changed my major the very next day. (And got a new perm, too...)
Children's literature is my love language. I was raised by two bookworms who gave me an early taste for beautiful illustrations and the magic of the written word. Bookstores and libraries fill me with inexplicable joy. And it is a very rare night when my children don't get a bedtime story.
I have so many favorite books and authors. I want to celebrate them all. Because in this world full of cynics and sleaze, is there anything more pure and noble than creating lovely prose and pictures for little people?
Here are the first in my list of favorites:
Do you know Robert McCloskey brought baby ducklings into his bathtub so he could draw them to perfection for Make Way for Ducklings? His illustrations are true works of art. And the stories are timeless. I just got Blueberries for the twins and they love it as much as my older kids, who loved it as much as their mom. Kerplink, kerplank, kerplunk!
Charming. Witty. Wise. And, so, so clever! I think Kevin Henkes is a genius. It amazes me that he can draw and write with such sweet, gentle humor. Growing up with an unusual name, I feel a natural connection with Chrysanthemum, but if you haven't met Lilly, Wendell, or Sheila Rae...you really should introduce yourself.
Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see? I see Eric Carle looking at me! What would kindergarten teachers do without Eric Carle? His books teach the days of the week, the months of the year, the colors of the rainbow and all the world's endangered species! And he reminds us that ladybugs aren't always female and that sometimes they can be very grouchy. Universal truths.Eve Bunting doesn't illustrate, but her writing paints such beautiful pictures. I still cannot read The Wednesday Surprise without crying. So tender. So sweet. If I could be a children's writer, this is the kind of story I would want to write.
Let's hear it for the people who make storytime a celebration!
Which storybooks can you read over and over and over?