As many of us are still stuck in our homes, you may find yourself reading more and looking for a break from the dizzying cadence of our current news cycle. For those with children, you may also be looking for some books that can re-engage them in learning and the spirit of curiosity about our world.
I have always enjoyed reading, especially to children, and reading together as a family is a great way to meaningfully connect with each other. As an educator, I always found ways to make reading fun, and I found that it was a great way for everyone to exchange their personal stories.
Teaching in River Forest (outside Chicago), on special occasions, my third-grade classes came to my office while I read The West Texas Chili Monster by Judy Cox, illustrated by John O’Brian, while my secretary served them hot chocolate. The children loved the bright green monster on the front cover. The story’s setting on a ranch in West Texas gave me the opportunity to talk about my childhood and where I came from. The children were always eager to jump in and share stories about their families’ histories.
Through the years I have developed a running list of some of my favorite books to read aloud to children. What is special about all these books is that they foster a special sense of meaning between those who read these stories together. The first, most treasured of these, is I Had Trouble in getting To SOLLA SOLLEW, by Dr. Seuss. After my late husband Larry left for Vietnam, this quickly became a treasured book for my daughter, Laura, and me.
Throughout the years, this book, and Dr. Seuss’ imaginative storytelling abilities made me feel closer to my daughter. The book ends with, “My troubles are going to have troubles with me” – my favorite line.
I also realized that these books, ones that I typically read aloud to children, had a long-term positive impact on me. I ordered another one of Dr. Seuss’s books, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, after checking myself into the Menninger Clinic. Dr. Seuss’s lessons were perfect for me as they are for so many other people. The characters were interesting and brought a smile to my face, even when I was depressed, and my daughter was living with relatives.
I read these two books by Dr. Seuss, constantly while at Menninger and sometimes even today.
What are some of your favorite children’s books to read as a family? What books have you re-discovered since being at home during the coronavirus stay-at-home order?
© 2020 Tyra Manning