I LOVE reading children’s literature-like really can’t get enough of it. It gives me the opportunity to be a kid again and be full of the light that I experienced as a child when I found books I couldn’t put down. It’s also so intriguing to me to sit down with a children’s book and try to look at it with adult perspective and then remove all inhibitions, and look at it with a child’s wonderment. This was never more apparent to me than an experience I had this summer.
I was working at an enrichment camp, and we would bring the children to the library every Tuesday. As I looked through the display of new books, a budding fourth grade girl commented that the book in my hand, The Best Worst Thing by Kathleen Lane, was “amazing”. So naturally I had to get it. I finished the book in a day due to it’s easy prose and quick, snippet chapters. It tells the story through the narration of Maggie, who is about to start middle school as the book opens and immediately Maggie’s quirky personality resonates through all of the events that take place.
The whole time I read it I couldn’t decide how I felt about the story-and I couldn’t help but think that this may have been intentional on the part of Kathleen Lane. The events and the emotion of the young characters felt authentic and the undertones of the adult relationships also were depicted beautifully through the perception of a child. But the whole time I kept asking myself, what about this was amazing in the eyes of that camper? Perhaps it was the eccentricity that I could see in this child and was apparent in almost every character in the book. I’m not sure. But I challenge you to give this book to a young adult reader and then sit down to discuss and try to see the world that Kathleen Lane created through the eyes of a child.
A picture book I read this summer and really enjoyed was Little One by Jo Weaver, @joweaverillustrations. The charcoal drawings are magnificent and ground the story about Big Bear and Little One in the serenity that nature provides. I nearly cried as Big Bear shows Little One all the possibilities that are outside their den and gives gentle reminders of what life has to offer. As a mother of a two year old this truly grabbed my heart in a vice to connect with the big role we have to show our children what life has to offer and guide them towards understanding life on their own.
From a teaching perspective, I think this could be a great read aloud that could connect to science for K-1 through furthering a discussion about the seasons, hibernation, etc. It’s also a great one for just stopping and noticing what the pictures have to add on to the text. I have no doubt whatever use you find for it your students will be captivated and calmed by the story and beautiful illustrations.