Stories are amazing little containers we can easily give our children to open up their imaginations.
Somehow they can hold life's most intangible and profound treasures. They unfold over time, weaving themselves into our memories, and they shape how we experience the world.
The stories we love are the stories that form us from the inside out.
What were the stories you loved as a child? Are there any you still love now as parent yourself? My favorites stories were always the ones that taught us something true and beautiful about the world when we were young and yet still rings true for us today. But in a completely different way. The wisdom of maturity has opened up another level to the story that was always equally true. Here eight children's books I still love and hope my kids will too when they are older.
Kinda like an interactive popup book, Beautiful Oops! takes common mistakes and creatively incorporates them into new solutions not possible before. Maybe a ripped page becomes a crocodile mouth, spilled ink becomes an elephant, or a folded corner becomes a penguin beak. It's a clever message on how to embrace the agony of making mistakes.
A Pocket Full of Kisses
As a follow up to The Kissing Hand, A Pocket Full of Kisses has given my family the still-practiced-ritual of blowing kisses to another and stuffing them in our pockets for later. The imaginative power of holding a kiss from someone who loves you is powerful, especially when you can pull it out whenever you might need a little extra loving. Sometimes we need to affirm the small child that still lives inside us.
I Can Handle It!
Who hasn't had big feelings? Sometimes we feel overwhelmed and helpless by them. I Can Handle It! is the story of a boy and the big feelings he has when he's faced with limits. Sometimes he has to leave the pool when he's not ready. Sometimes he can't have a pet when he wants one. Sometimes his little sister annoys him. But when faced with those situations, he tells himself “I can handle it!” And tells himself three things he could do instead. I Can Handle It! is a simple book about empowerment.
Little Blue Truck
This is a rhythmic story about the power of kindness, friendship and undeserved generosity. The Little Blue Truck happily beeps at all the animals he passes by and all the animals cluck, moo, baa, neigh, and oink happily back to him. A larger dump truck is demands everyone gets out of his way as he rudely passes them by. Unfortunately, he gets stuck in the mud and nobody hears him (or wants to help). But along comes Blue and ends up changing everything about his community. It turns out to be a sweet and honest little story about cultural transformation.
An Awesome Book of Thanks
Thanks to advances in neuroscience, we know the foundation to happiness is gratitude. An Awesome Book of Thanks playfully points out the ever growing list of things we can be thankful for at any moment in time.
I Want to Tell You About My Feelings
In this simple but profound book, communication is imagined as a game of catch. I Want to Tell You About My Feelings provides a long form analogy that doesn't ever wear thin. You throw a ball and they throw it back to you. Sometimes they throw it back too hard. Sometimes you throw a red ball and they throw back a yellow ball. Sometimes they throw too many balls at you to catch. Sometimes someone else wants to play too. It keeps going deeper and deeper into all the in's and out's and common pitfalls of connection and interpersonal communication.
How Full Is Your Bucket?
How Full Is Your Bucket? is the wisdom a grandfather gives his grandson when he's having a bad day. Grandpa says everyone has an invisible bucket, when it's empty we feel bad and when it's full we feel great. Every action either dips out of someone else's bucket or fills it up. There's a secret that when you fill up someone else's bucket, you can't help but fill up your own too. This little analogy has endured for the past 10 years of our family and was crucial in understanding the intangibles of hurtful and helpful behavior that don't necessarily follow the same simple lines as right and wrong.
No Matter What
"I'll always love you, not matter what." But what "if I were a grumpy grizzly bear?" Of all the objections that we have to unconditional love, No Matter What explores them all with a cute rhyming scheme and beautiful artwork and reassures us there is nothing we can do to change the love parents have for their children.
Thinking back on the memories these stories have given my family, my heart swells with gratitude for their intangible gifts and ageless wisdom. These are the stories that have slowed the speed of growing up, they have found ways to connect me to my own inner child and helped our family focus on what's most important to us. They have influenced our family rituals and have shaped what we love.
These are the stories that have instilled values of connection, emotional resilience, and the persistence of kindness within my family.
Maybe one of these stories will speak to you and your family in a similar way. Maybe you've found other stories that resonate better. What stories are the staples in your family? What stories do you hope to hear your children retelling to your grandchildren someday?
Just crack open a good book and pour out what's waiting for you inside.