All the Way to the Ocean

All the Way to the Ocean
My three year old is fascinated by Joel Harper’s All the Way to the Ocean. He asked me to read it to him three times in the Kidspace gift shop — and the Kidspace gift shop is full of toys. Usually he won’t sit through ANY book in a gift shop, even if it’s a book he ends up loving at home.

The text is long, and it’s not as smooth and tight as most of the best selling children’s books out there. That doesn’t seem to matter to my kid, though. He’s riveted.

I like it because it talks about real problems and real things kids can do about them. Reading it together feels serious and empowering. I also like it because it has a black character who isn’t black to serve some narrative purpose — he’s just black because some people are black. He’s the expert kid in this book. We need a lot more children’s books like this. I hope the author keeps publishing. We’ll keep keep buying if he does.

The Girl and the Bicycle

The Girl and the Bicycle 1
Oh, how we love Mark Pett’s The Girl and the Bicycle! It’s another wordless story, this time about working hard for what you want and about kindness. Our kid asks for this book over and over — what better recommendation could there be?

The girl in this story desperately wants the green bicycle she sees in the window. She does everything she can think of to earn money, and when the usual ideas don’t yield enough (lemonade stand, garage sale), she goes out to see if the neighbors will hire her to do chores. One does, and they develop a friendship. Finally, after months of hard work for her neighbor, the girl goes to buy the bike and — [SPOILER ALERT!] — it’s gone! She’s disappointed, but she decides to buy her brother a tricycle instead. On the way home — he’s pedaling ecstatically and she’s walking along behind him — her neighbor friend waves her over to give her a big surprise.

The Girl and the Bicycle 2
I found this book by way of Books That Heal Kids, which is a great blog to follow if you’re on the lookout for children’s books with good messages.

“And they opened the door with their magical keys and went through to see what adventure would befall them….”

One of the reasons I love books without words is that I get to make up sentences like that. And then I get to hear my kid saying them, too.

When I ordered Aaron Becker’s latest book, Quest, I hoped it would be as good as Journey (which was a Caldecott Honor Book). You guys, it’s even better. We’ve had it for a couple of weeks now, we’ve probably read it 100 times already, and I’m here to tell you that it’s even more fun to read the 100th time than it is the first few times. Gavin and I started out reading it differently, but our kid started filling in sound effects or phrases that the other parent usually included, and sometimes we’d hear each other read it, until our ways converged. We have the beginnings of a Way Our Family Reads Quest, but it’s still changing, and it probably always will be.

Quest fan art
We also now regularly make Quest fan art together. (“Quickly! I’ll draw scuba gear!” “I’ll draw a squid friend!”)