More and more often, I find myself rearranging words and phrases in an effort to arrive at an explanation that is appropriately worded for Eldon's brilliant and busy 2 year old mind.
We are right in that stage where communication is less frustrating for him but more frustrating for me. He can express his wants/needs easily now but I struggle to communicate MY wants/needs to him effectively. I only have a basic idea of what he grasps, and don't want to overestimate or underestimate him.
This is one (of the many) reasons I have developed such a heartfelt appreciation and love for children's books. I have always loved the way they portray such complex ideas with such simplicity. In fact, when I was searching for the last "reading" for our wedding ceremony, I stumbled across the book "Me With You" by Kristy Dempsey It just felt perfect. So simply stated but really enveloping of all of the things we wanted to say, even if not directly. And THAT seems to be the recipe for a classic. A book that can do all of the above and still speak to young hearts is a treasure.
When Eldon was a very new newborn, a super sweet old man in Helena ran a used bookstore out of an old house. The floorboards creaked, the shelves overflowed with books and the place smelled like pipe tobacco. Because of his "secret mission" to get kids involved with reading, he would credit me $5.00 for my used novels. I would stack 20 or so childrens books in my arms, and he would wink as he marked my credit down one dollar. This is how Eldon's "library" began and continued growing. I know we were lucky, but if you are looking for a jumpstart, Salvation Army in Kalispell has bins of books in the .10-.25 cents range. (Don't be picky, Eldons favorites are books I never would have bought if I wasn't just grabbing random handfuls of books.)
So I have spent the last few days reading and compiling our "treasure chest" of books. Yours may be different, but these are our tried and tested true favorites. I made two different lists, one of all time classics and one of books for the Montana kid. They are in no particular order. Enjoy!
Must-read books for the Montana kid:
1."Owl Moon" by Jane Yolen
This reminds me of grouse hunting with my brothers and Grandpa. Looks like I am not the only one who loves it, though.
2."M is for Montana" by Gayle C. Shirley
An ABC book that teaches Montana landscape and history.
3."Who Pooped in the Park-Glacier National Park ?" by Gary D. Robson
This series features the different National Parks, their animals and the tracks/scat they make. The Glacier Park version is most useful for our Flathead Valley future explorers.
4."Whose Tracks Are These?" by James Nail
Love the illustration in this book, and a great learning tool.
5. "The Other Way to Listen" by Byrd Baylor and Peter Parnall
A story about connecting with nature. Also the author of a book we love called "Everybody Needs a Rock."
6. "The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush" by Tomie DePaola
The story of the legend surrounding my all time favorite flower.
7. "My First Deer Hunt" by Curtis and Michael Waguespack
Can't wait for Eldon to read this and get excited about his first hunting trip with Nate!
8. "Naya Nuki-shoshoni girl who ran" by Kenneth Thomasma
This was the first chapter book I ever read. I got lost into it and then read all of his other books.
9. "First Snow in the Woods" by Carl R. Sams and Jean Stoick
Sorry to you OCD folks, I am leaving this list at 9.
Our all time favorites:
1. "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" by Eric Carle
Eldon loves this book because it is easy to memorize and he can recite it/read it alone.
2."Harold and the Purple Crayon" by Crockett Johnson
One of those books that feels never-ending at bed time but a wonderful way to get kids to understand how powerful and important a good imagination is.
3. "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak
Max is Eldon. Eldon is Max. I am sure there are parents out there who relate to this book the same way.
4. "The Little Engine That Could" by Watty Piper
Duh. No explanation needed.
5. "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" by Judith Viorst
More my favorite than Eldon's, but it comes in handy when he is whining up a storm over something silly. Quoting this book gets him to smirk, even when he doesn't want to. I often yell out "I am moving to AUSTRALIA!" when I get frustrated. Eldon thinks it is hysterical and it brings some comedy to my otherwise crazy day.
6. "Squids Will Be Squids" by Jon Scieszka
Directed more to an older age group, but I just LOVE these silly fables and they hold Eldon's attention while offering some adult entertainment.
7. "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle
After checking this book out from the library 10 million times, I finally bought it. Eldon requests it by name and any child's version of the word "caterpillar" is likely to be adorable.
8. "Is There Really a Human Race?" by Jamie Lee Curtis
One of those books that will prove more beneficial as Eldon grows
9. "Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?" by Dr. Seuss
This would be at the top of the list if these were in any order. I love all Dr. Seuss books but this one is my definite favorite. Reading it to Eldon makes his imaginiation soar while altering the mood of my day dramatically. We listen to this on tape in the car alot.
10. "Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You" by Nancy Tillman
So sweet. So delicate. So true. As a Mother who has dealt with the loss of a baby, this book hit me especially hard.
Honorable Mentions: These are books that are my personal favorites that don't always hold Eldon's attention or are tucked away until he is old enough to understand how special they are:
1. "Oh, The Places You'll Go!" by Dr. Seuss
I give this book as a gift all. the. time. So inspiring and without limitations. A Dr. Seussy crazy way of teaching children (and adults alike) that they can go wherever they want to in life, complete with mention of challenges and roadblocks.
2. "The Story of Ferdinand" by Muro Leaf
I don't want my son to be a bully, but I don't want him to be a punk either. I want him to be a Ferdinand.
3. "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein
This book leaves alot open for interpretation. I see it (and will someday explain it to Eldon this way) as a lesson that even when people are more than happy to keep giving, it doesn't mean you should continue taking. Give and take, without ANY exception to the rule.
4. "Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters" by John Steptoe
This book was one I read in grade school that I will always remember. A lesson in being kind, even when you think nobody is watching.
Still don't have your fix? Find your local library's story time schedule here.