Wisdom in children's books

We’re big fans of reading to our kids, and with three kids, I’ve read a lot of children’s books. As with anything, I’ve found there is a vast difference between the great ones and the ones that, well, fall short. Right now, my absolute two favorite authors are Oliver Jeffers and Kobi Yamada with illustrations from Mae Besom. By no means are we die-hards with these authors but they each have a couple of books that we’ve read repeatedly. We read them not just for the story, not only for the illustrations but for the meaning that each has.

Oliver Jeffers’ Here We Are is a field guide to life on Earth. The message of kindness is laid out in such an effortless and straightforward way; it makes me want to buy one for every person in the world. The illustrations are drool-worthy; done in the style that is approachable and yet intricate. Here We Are is just one demonstration to the imagination and hope the Jeffers brings to his books. Every time I read through them with my kids, I’m jealous of his simple yet powerful storytelling and illustrations. I recommend watching this short talk that he gave at Creative mornings. It’s inspiring to hear him talk concretely about the work that he does and why he does it.

The two stories from Kobi and Mae that we read on repeat are “What Do You Do with a Problem?” and “What Do You Do with an Idea?”. Both follow a small boy working through problems that not just face children but also adults. Reading through these stories helps me combat my problems and helps me fight my imposter syndrome. Something I would have never guessed would come from a children’s book. The illustrations in both books carry the stories’ meaning through little easter eggs. They’re hidden well; we only noticed them on the third or fourth read.

These are the kinds of books that I love buying for my kids and love reading over and over. What are your favorite children’s books, and what meaning do they have?

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