Life Lessons From Kids Books
April 15, 2011
"While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about." - Angela Schwindt
This quote has always been a favorite of mine – not for the cheesy sentimental factor, but because my experiences have proven it to be undeniably true. I recently graduated with my degree in early childhood education, and after having the opportunity to work with so many kids who are bursting at the seams with wonder and excitement about the little things in life, I can’t help but believe they’ve got it right. Their outlooks on life sometimes leave me asking, "Where did all that powerful wisdom come from?" So in an attempt to live more by their example, I find myself spending a lot of time in the children’s book section. I’m here to tell you, some of life’s greatest lessons rest among silly-sounding words, colorful pictures, and imaginary friends. Here are a few at the top of my list:
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
This is my favorite book of all time. It’s a classic story about a tree who finds incredible delight in the happiness of someone else. She gives and gives until there’s nothing left, and then she gives a little more. Do you know anyone like that in your life? I certainly do! They make a difference in my life every day. This book helps me to recognize that everything I do influences those around me and how giving is sometimes the greatest gift of all.
Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? by Dr. Seuss
Who doesn’t love a Seussical tale? This one tops them all in my book, and I would highly recommend it for any age. The story is about an old man who offers his advice to a small boy from atop a cactus in the Desert of Drize. Throughout the book, the man convinces the boy to be happy with his life because things could be so much worse! “It’s a troublesome world. All the people who’re in it are troubled with troubles almost every minute! You ought to be thankful, a whole heaping lot, for the places and people you’re lucky you’re not.” Dr. Seuss teaches us to be thankful for what we have, and I can say with great certainty that this is a lesson we all need to be reminded of sometimes.
Spork by Kyo Maclear
I just recently came across this book on the shelf, and I couldn’t help but stop to take a look. At first glance I expected quirky humor, but the story is actually quite inspiring. The main character, Spork, has a fork for a dad and a spoon for a mom, thus creating a misfit image that he just doesn’t know how to handle. Spork tries so hard to fit in, but eventually ends up being just the perfect utensil for a messy baby. This is a touching story that teaches self-acceptance and celebrates diversity, which I find incredibly relevant and meaningful for a world filled with unique individuals.
The Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin
This is a book that easily gets passed up day after day. The cover and the pages are all black with simple white text, which seems ironic for a story about colors, but the illustrations are meant to be experienced rather than viewed with the eye. The story was written like beautiful poetry to describe colors to individuals who cannot see. In addition to the braille that accompanies each page, the illustrations are created with a clear medium that rises off the page for your fingers to explore. It’s an amazing opportunity to put yourself in someone else’s shoes – taking a moment to appreciate the way our senses help us interpret our world.
The Turn-Around, Upside-Down Alphabet Book by Lisa Campbell Ernst
This is an unconventional alphabet book that creatively shows young kids that it’s okay to look beyond the expectations. Each letter has its own page that requires the book to be physically turned in every direction to be read, and as the pages move, the illustrations of the letters change in appearance like a cloud. For example, a J might look like an elephant’s trunk, a candy cane, or a monkey’s tail depending upon which way you’re looking. The story has a significant message – everyone has a different perspective. Each of us views the same thing differently, and there’s not always one correct answer. We are all free to see through our own eyes and share our outlook with others.
Next time you’re in the library, take a stroll through the wonderful children’s area; maybe even sit on the floor. Life through a child’s eyes can be incredibly insightful. You never know what you might find beneath the surface of rainbows and monster trucks!