Read to Me, Mama

This weekend, Jeff picked up a book display case that the school next door had put out on the street.

I love cover art, especially from children’s books, and now I think Fern’s little reading corner is especially inviting and cheery.

The book that will remain the hallmark of Fern's childhood. "I am a Bunny" by Richard Scarry

We have been going to the Western Addition branch of the SF Public Library, and it is such a joy. Never crowded, the shelves are full, the kids corner is secluded and makes it easy to corral Fern while I leisurely browse the shelves, looking for old friends, and ready to make new ones.

My copy of Mother Goose from the 70s. The artwork is darling, the rhymes atrocious and full of child beatings...I skip those or change them. However, Fern's favorite rhyme is "Farmer in the Dell" and she sings it all day long.

We have been reading to Fern since she was born, but its been since the Winter Solstice that she has really developed her appetite for story time. Now with new library books every couple weeks, I read up to 15 stories a day. As she grows and we fall in love with new tales, I thought I could share what we are currently enjoying, and I would love to hear about books that your wee ones love.

We read this book every night during the winter. "The Tomten" by A. Lindgren

Already, the issue around THE MESSAGES that my daughter may receive from books, media and music has become something that I simultaneously am concerned about while trying to not be a party pooper. I draw the line at corporal punishment (“Tom, Tom the piper’s son, stole a pig and away he run. The pig was eat and Tom was beat and Tom went crying down the street.” WTF?), clothing that emulates child pornography and media that splinters the soul.

There is also the question of cultural heritage. Despite the violence in Mother Goose rhymes and classics like Little Red, these are stories that are part of our collective consciousness (and show up as archetypes in our collective UNconscious). So I tread delicately, titrating what she is, or is not, ready for, and avoiding poems about Little Polly Flinders, who was whipped for getting her dress dirty. (Again with the WTF?).

We have loved these two versions of nursery rhymes, and the artwork is really what speaks.

A must for any parent in California, Jack and Jill takes place in Lassen Nat. Park and The Cat and the Fiddle takes place in front of a central Cali barn dance.

I am slowly collecting all the stories that wove themselves throughout my own childhood, like “The Golden Egg Book.” Once there was a little bunny. He was all alone. One day he found an egg. He could hear something moving inside the egg. What was it?”

The Golden Egg Book, by Margaret Wise Brown (Of 'Goodnight Moon' fame)
And who doesn’t love Ms. Brown? If you are a parent, I bet you have “Goodnight Moon” memorized. But do you know the Little Fur Family?

There are random thrift store finds…

And recommended Waldorf reads that cost $10 at your local natural baby store…or $1.50 at the Goodwill…

The Root Children by Olfers

But her favorite? A certain Elephant and Piggie, complete with lots of sound effects, cries of alarm and slapstick. She is her mother’s daughter, after all.

Every trip to the library includes two new adventures with Gerald and Piggie.

There are so many more that are dear to my heart, but these are the magic yarns that weave together our days right now. What tales and characters do your children love, or what were your own childhood favorites?


P.S.  I found this vintage kids book blog that you really might enjoy. Also, I have really been into googling the real meaning of the Mother Goose rhymes. They were all essentially for teaching children history and political concepts, more like verbal editorial cartoons than the simple songs they appear to be. But “falling down and breaking your crown” sounds a lot better than “beheading.”)


11 thoughts on “Read to Me, Mama

  1. So funny because I just took photos of a few of MY favorite children’s book illustrations last week because they pop into my head so very often and have made such an impact on me. Lovin’ the book shelf you scored. Awesome way to bring the books to life in your living space. I miss seeing the covers on our shelves so occasionally pull one book out and leave it out for the next morning, cover to inspire, for the next day. And the kids think this is the best surprise in the world. A book picked out and waiting to be read. 🙂 Oh the joys of childhood.

  2. oh my gosh, the “i am a bunny” book is one of my favorites!! i love children’s literature. what a great find, that book shelf! we have the root children and the butterfly children, too, and there’s a “don’t let the pigeon drive the bus” board game that we found at target. the little fur family is one of my absolute favorites. LOVE. maybe we’ll make a library trip today.

      1. its fun! easy enough for a 3 year old to play – we modify the rules a bit, but its super easy and simple. i like the butterfly children more than the root children, but the copy of root children i got on amazon is so tiny and the butterfly children is the size of a children’s library picture book, you know? i want to check out a few others of hers, and i have a goodreads account with a shelf of my daughter’s books:

  3. here is my favorite new kids’ book:

    i saw it at the library and the artwork on the cover spoke to me. i had no idea what it was about. i can’t BELIEVE how much i love it. it’s so so so perfect.

    this post is so sweet. i am really inspired by a lot of the artwork you like. elephant and piggie are not something we know about. gonna get on that for olive! she’s not too old, yeah? ………our home library has grown so much because of the thrift store. but now, in the past year, it is the public library that i am finding all the new-to-us loves at. nothing nothing nothing ever ever ever will be as cool as the public library. well, music, art, sex,
    gardening. i guess there are a few things that could compete in that running. whatever.

    1. ha! i love how your “the public library is the coolest” statement starts to degrade at the end…thank you for making me laugh. how is the book and what is it about? or should i just get it and find out? it took me a minute to realize why it might be special, and then i realized we’re talking mr. ralph waldo here. olive is def not too old for ele and piggie…i think max and zhi will like them too, since some of the humor is quite subtle.

  4. Yay! We are huge Mo Willem fans. Have you read The Important Book (Margret Wise Brown)?? One I love!And Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. It uses cookies to teach etiquette vocabulary in the most beautiful way and the pictures are wonderful. It’s been fun reading it at different ages with Kate. You would love it. oooooh there’s too many to name!!! You know this topic is my obsession. The only reason I teach kindergarten…;)

    1. you gave us “there’s a bird on your head”! ele and piggie are by far her favorites. and the root children too, have you read any of s.v. olfers stuff? i just checked out the cookies book…that is going on our list for sure. i would love to know what other books you highly recommend….i am more passionate about fern’s library than i am her toys…or putting her on a preschool waitlist. 🙂

      1. You have most of my favorites – The Golden Egg Book, any Margaret Wise Brown… A new one I found this year is Birds by Kevin Henkes – my current “how can I incorporate this in my curriculum?” pick. Of course my children’s bookshelves are overflowing but I keep bringing books home. I should take pics of them. Oh and do you have any Golden Books from when you were little?? I brought them down from my mom’s a few years ago and not suprisingly they are my kids favorites. I’ll send you a message with the titles of the best of those!

  5. Ah! Such a lovely blog, I’m so pleased to have stumbled in your doorway here….and even more delighted to see the Root Children on my screen!

    Blessings your way ∞

  6. That display case is such a score! I have a vintage kid’s book collection, that began long before Clover, though I love that she is now getting to enjoy them all 😀 I would love to have a case like that to put them in.

    We go to the public library at least once a week and check out about 15 books to read throughout the week in addition to our collection at home. Clover LOVES having stories read to her and she memorizes them very quickly too. If you accidentally switch the tiniest of words, she will immediately let you know the error of your ways!

    A favorite from our latest batch of library books is this one: which I randomly picked out and then realized as I read it to her that it was about summer solstice, perfect!

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