Monday, December 1, 2014

For the Love of Wild Rumpus

I’m 36 years old and I read books written for children.  And I love them.  

I don’t love children’s literature in some kind of ironic, hipster way (is that even a thing?) but I honest to goodness adore them.  I’m not just talking about young adult novels either, though I understand the current fascination with them.  I love everything from picture books to early readers to chapter books for the middle grades.  I find the combination of wonder and vulnerability that is displayed on the pages of the best of these to be inspiring and life-affirming.  Children’s books are a welcome breath of fresh air between the sometimes heavier and usually more nuanced fiction I choose from the adult section, and a source of inspiration for my own attempts at writing outside this blog. 

One of the surprise benefits of raising kids is that I can now check out as many children’s books as I want from the library without having to explain myself to the librarians.   But the truth is, I’ll still be checking them out long after my kids have outgrown them, and unless my boys both live nearby and decide to have plenty of babies themselves, it won’t be long before I’m going to need another excuse for clearing the shelves of the entire Caldecott section. 

Back in 2007, already using my youngest child as an excuse to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  
Reading quality children's literature aloud is really important.  Pretend my mouth is moving.  And that he's not sleeping.

So I came up with a plan.  It’s a long-term plan so I have to start now.  I’m going to share reviews of children’s books on this blog.  I already review children’s books when I’m at the library (and by review, I mean I pull my favorites off the shelves and shove them unsolicited into the hands of unsuspecting parents) but if I review them here, I become legitimate, because the internet is nothing if not legitimate.  This way, when my youngest is way too old to be reading illustrated books anymore, I can still check them out because by then I’ll be an “accomplished” reviewer of children’s books.  I don’t have to tell the librarians that only three people read the reviews and one of them is my mom.  I’ll just walk up to the counter and explain that I have to check out each of the latest Show Me Award nominees because my readers are anxiously anticipating my opinions. 

If you are one of those those three readers I mentioned earlier (hi mom!) and you can’t even wait until I publish my first review,  I’m going to give you a short list of picture book author/illustrators you should be reading to your kids (or yourself) starting today.  It is just a jumping off point, in case you somehow have missed out on any of these incredible folks:

Kevin Henkes
Oliver Jeffers
Jon Klaas
Herve Tullet
Mo Willems

If you are still reading this you should already be in your car on the way to the library or local bookstore to check out these authors.  In fact, the only reason you should not be in your car right now is if you are already responding with names of people to add to this list.  I promise I’ll be back with a review in a few days.  Now GO!


  1. As a teacher, the absolute best part of the school day is reading aloud books. I am sure I squeeze in more in a day than the curriculum allows, but it is the rapt attention with which you've captured every child in the room to teach vocabulary, math concepts, can find a book for each and every lesson! And that's exciting. Perhaps it's my Scandanavian ancestry, but I love the illustrations and foreshadowing of Jan Brett books. I could send so many other suggestions from 32 years in first grade!

  2. Jan Brett, yes. Beautiful books. I love the way reading aloud captures a classroom's attention like nothing else.


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