I’m so glad that Stella loves books. I mean, she LOVES books. Even if she’s surrounded by her train set, blocks, singing tea pot (yes…she has a singing tea pot) and puzzles, she will still reach for the stack on her bookshelf.
I don’t only contribute this to my academic and professional interest in children’s books, but more so to those around me that have fostered a book-friendly environment since before Stella was born.
One of my best friends threw me a book-themed baby shower a month before my Bucca was born. Each guest was tasked with bringing their favorite children’s book to build the baby’s library in lieu of a card. The guests also attached bookplates to their choices with a little message to the baby. I still love reading the bookplates as Stella chooses a book each day.
I know that book showers are no longer a new or original concept…just look at Pinterest. But I can’t overstate the significance that this shower had on Stella’s love of books. She was gifted books that I probably never would have exposed her to otherwise and some of those are her all-time favorites.
Stella has also been the recipient of some unique book-related gifts. For her first birthday, some great friends got my Bucca a subscription to Babybug Magazine for a year. These little magazines are more like board books. Each issue contains songs, stories, poems and colorful illustrations. Stella loves getting a new issue in the mail and goes back to previous issues again and again. This was certainly one of the most meaningful and lasting first birthday gifts she received. Click here for subscription information.
The Imagination Library program has also proven to be invaluable to Stella’s growing library. This program, initiated by Dolly Parton, provides children birth-age 5 with age-appropriate and free books each month in the mail. I’m thankful that my mom has connected Stella with these books, which she is always excited to receive. This program is not available in all areas, but those interested are able to replicate the program in their own community. Check out the website to see if your community has an Imagination Library program in place AND, if not, get information to start one.
All of these things have been used in Stella’s life to establish a strong foundation with books and have allowed us to focus on literature as a significant component of our daily and collective family life. I’m so thankful that those around me have contributed to building this structure. As Gladys Hunt states in Honey for a Child’s Heart, “Don’t let your children live in spiritual poverty when abundance is available! Fill your children up with words, with imaginative worlds, with adventures beyond your ken” (27).
Lindsay (and Bucca)
Along with this blog, I co-author a family and lifestyle blog, Mrs. B & Mrs. V, with my bestie, Miranda. In a recent post, she curated some of her son’s favorite board books and why she feels he responded to them in such a positive and encouraging manner. Take a look at the post here. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to take another look at board books for your family!
So, you may be wondering why I began graduate study in children’s literature and decided to dedicate an entire blog to it. Back when I began my studies, I couldn’t really put my finger on what it was that drew me into the study of books for children. At the time I was working at an early childhood development center and was the proud aunt of a toddler boy. (I still am a proud aunt, although my nephew is certainly not a toddler anymore!) Being around young children at this time and hearing their interactions each day inspired me to try my hand at writing stories for kids. I then enrolled in a non-credit writing course. This not only enhanced my interest in writing, but it really ignited my passion for children’s literature. I re-visited so many stories I loved growing up and was introduced to more modern, complex, and fascinating tales and characters. Soon my bookshelves were bursting with more and more children’s books…and I didn’t even have a child of my own!
At the suggestion of a writing advisor, I decided to apply for a program to receive my Master’s degree in children’s literature. After an entrance exam and a lengthy application process I was accepted and began what would become one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. I became drawn to picture books as a writer and reader, so the first text of the first course I took in the program eloquently put into words my feelings about becoming deeply involved in children’s literature. In their book , The Picture Book Comes of Age, Joseph and Chava Schwarcz state that picture book components work together to impact a reader through, “…their playfulness – visual communication, optical illusions, and message in configurations of shapes and colors surround us, beckon to us, and often practically enwrap us” (3).
This is what I love about children’s literature: the experiential nature that invites readers to laugh out loud, stare at a lovely image, communicate their feelings, or just play. I have learned to appreciate children’s literature for this potential and I hope that your experience of children’s books will change or become enhanced through this blog.