In the morning you will find me sitting below an east facing window, sun streaming in, with several boys vying for a spot on my lap. Reading time is really one of the highlights of our days and is what I do first to gather the boys and help them begin our day. Gathering (at times) rambunctious boys is no joke! In order for me to do it effectively, I have found that bringing over a large stack of carefully-chosen books the best approach. Reading helps grumpy mornings turn happy. Reading helps complaining turn into smiles. Reading makes everything better!
I love beautifully-illustrated children’s books. I think the illustrations are at least as important as the words in a book, and I love reading to even small babies books that are finely illustrated.
In addition, I think it’s interesting how well written/well-illustrated picture books reach more than just children. When they are really good, they are interesting to all ages.
So here are a few of our favorite right now:
Johnny Appleseed A poem by Reeve Lindbergh and Paintings by Kathy Jakobsen. A lovely description of John Chapman’s life. The illustrations are absolutely beautiful, and we couldn’t help but talk about how interesting it is that God gives each of us unique divine missions. I think especially interesting are the people who help colonize and settle America, and John Chapman helped in doing that.
Anno’s Journey by Mitsumasa Anno. This book is illustrations only. We loved it. The detail, the architecture, and my youngest son loves finding the small balloons in it. I was initially surprised at how much my boys loved and appreciated the art in it, but after reflecting about it, it doesn’t surprise me at all. We have spent a lot of time looking at the beautiful details in paintings, so they have developed the skill of observing and appreciating art, and that just makes me happy!
Hello, Harvest Moon by Ralph Fletcher, illustrated by Kate Kiesler. Again, gorgeous illustrations and such a sweet story—rich in description. I love books that illustrate and reverence nature.
Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall and pictures by Barbara Cooney. We adore this book. Barbara Cooney also illustrated one of our other all-time favorite books Miss Rumphius—so it was fun recognizing her artistic style. This is the beautiful story of a family who work hard all year creating beautiful things to sell in the autumn time. It makes me want to live that simple life!
Apples to Oregon Being the (Slightly) True Narrative of How a Brave Pioneer Father Brought Apples, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Grapes and Cherries (AND CHILDREN) Across the Plains by Deborah Hopkinson and Nancy Carpenter. This book is absolutely delightful. Beautiful illustrations. It takes a light-hearted approach and some creative literary freedom in telling about how the Luelling family and eight children left Salem, Iowa with a wagon carrying 700 plants and young fruit trees and headed west to plant them in Oregon.
Robert Frost Poetry for Young People Edited by Gary D. Schmitdt and Illustrated by Henri Sorenson. I love Robert Frost’s poetry. This has gorgeous illustrations and is organized by season, so this is one we will have out throughout the year. I think it’s important for children to be exposed to beautiful poetry from an early age. The word choice is often rich, and poetry helps one see life differently! Children are often very gifted at memorizing quickly, so this is one I love to draw from for memorization.
Columbus byIngri & Edgar Parin D’Aulaire. The story of Christopher Columbus came alive to us through this book. He definitely felt inspired by God to do what he did. The book shows both his strengths and weaknesses (as we all have). This is the second year we’ve read it in October, and we all loved it both times.
Strega Nona’s Harvest by Tomie dePaola. My boys fell in love with the original Strega Nona we read a while back, and this is a fun continuation of the tale. Delightful colors, and delightful story.
I’d love to hear any recommendations for books you love.