Ish - Phenomenal Picture Books

Few things are as heart-wrenching as seeing your child demoralized and disheartened.

Ish book cover
I still remember the time when my twins were babies ... I used to worry how would I help them when they lose their self-confidence one day.

Small kids are like super-heroes before self-doubt creeps into their lives!

For them everything is possible.

But one day, reality smashes through the fragile glass dome of childhood uninvited.

Self-doubt in youngsters can be dangerous - as it feeds itself.

Lack of confidence can paralyze a child and force it to retreat in a virtual shell of safety, by giving up on activities in which it does not feel confident.

Every human being can feel untalented in any field.

I knew we had to have the right antidote in our home library.

And I found the best antidote to 'loss of confidence' in the form of this little bijou.

A veritable gem of a picture book.

The Wind in the Willows - The Best Illustrated Children's Edition

The mission statement was clear:
The Inga Moore-illustrated classic
The Wind in the Willows, published by Candlewick 

Find the best illustrated hardcover edition of Kenneth Graham's masterpiece The Wind in the Willows for my twins.

I also had to make sure the book was an unabridged version very suitable for read-alouds that can entrance my listeners on the force of its illustrations alone.

Simple, I thought.

Before you read any further I must admit that I failed in part of my "mission" - at the end I opted for a very carefully abridged version of The Wind in the Willow, on the strength of illustrations alone.

Yes, for fans of unabridged editions - hereby I admit I have sinned.

But in my defense I must say that I did it purely for the sake of the enjoyment of my twins - who adore lavishly illustrated books.

It is such a beauty that I am simply enthralled with it.

The book I've chosen is a version of The Wind in the Willows illustrated by ...

The Wayside School Collection Book Set

Every kid loves to giggle.
Image of three-book collection set about the Wayside School by Louis Sachar

You know they do - their chuckling even gets on your nerves, especially when you hear those muffled little snickers at the wrong time.

I won't blame you if you try to forget those days when the little chortles get on your nerves.

But do remember how much they enjoy laughing, when your are choosing read-aloud material.

It's THE key to their undivided attention.

So, if your reading aloud sessions are becoming too boring - not only to your child, but to you too - turn to laughter.

It never fails.

If you only focus on reading masterpieces of children's literature to your kids - without leaving some space for pure, mindless fun - reading might become too much of a chore for all involved.

I always make sure that we are reading at least one lighthearted and funny book, concurrently with the more heavy-handed Narnias, or The Secret Gardens, or the Little Histories Of The World (links to my reviews)...

We need to ensure that reading aloud is not equated in the young mind only with drop-dead serious books that can overwhelm the listener.

Sometimes kids want to relax, laugh and enjoy a book for its comical power.

They want to giggle, while sitting upside-down on the sofa.

Yet, comedy is a noble teacher too. It helps us learn that life is best enjoyed with a smile on our faces and that we are all human, after all.

The Brothers Lionheart: The Best Children's Book of All Times

cover of the paperback book The Brothers Lionheart
Truly great books are exceptional creations that don't follow rules.

The Brothers Lionheart is one of these gems - completely unique.

In fact, I dare to single out this Astrid Lindgren (of Pippi Longstocking fame) classic as the best children's book ever - for me.

It is a children's book about the big issues in life.

Life & death. Sacrifice & heroism. Love & courage.

Topics that are difficult to approach in a sensitive, yet non-preachy manner.

The main character of this novel is Karl Lion - called affectionately Rusky by his older brother Jonathan Lion.

Karl is a sickly, bed-ridden boy plagued by a exhausting cough that is eating his life away.

Karl is also the narrator of the story and a masterful observer of the surreal events that surround him.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention - Karl dies on page 14.

Yep, it's tough to read it aloud.

And then at the end of the book .. he dies again. Oh boy.

His amazing brother, dashing Jonathan Lion (a.k.a. Jonathan Lionheart) is a heroic figure. He dotes over his sick younger brother Karl.

Jonathan looks like a "prince in a saga", with his golden hair and beautiful dark blue eyes, perfectly white teeth and straight legs.


Jonathan dies on page 9.

And he dies once again in the book.

The First Thing You Should Do When You Start To Read Aloud

Reading aloud is NOT the smooth sailing as many of us imagine it will be.

A man and a girl skydiving
Keep it exciting
Kids are hyperactive these days and they will often jump around, bang on the table or climb on the furniture while you try to read.

Other kids will slowly sink into a state of deep torpor the more you read and by the time that you reach the most exciting part of the chapter - you will hear loud snoring.

The more you read, the more critical they are.

Children will come to expect good books.

Better books.

How do you get around these hiccups?

You don't.

The Story of Doctor Dolittle - Best Illustrated Children's Edition

Some children's books simply amaze me.
The Story of Doctor Dolittle,  illustrated by Michael Hague
The Story of Doctor Dolittle
illustrated by Michael Hague

You know that glorious feeling when you unexpectedly come across a wonderful example of children's literature?

A book that expands your horizons.

Take, for example, The Story of Doctor Dolittle that was published back in 1920.

I know what you are thinking...

Read Aloud Dad ... that is so passé!

But wait a moment, great books are never passé.

Admittedly, everyone knows about Doctor Dolittle.

There are twelve books in the series and The Story of Doctor Dolittle is the first, but not the most famous book from the Doctor Dollitle series.

In fact, its sequel The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle won the Newbery Medal in 1923.

So, you ask... is there really something special about this first book, The Story of Doctor Dolittle?

Or is it merely 'the boring sibling' from the Doctor Dolittle book series?