This summer, we started a tradition. It involved library trips in the morning and a picnic blanket in the afternoon, along with a stack of books, simple homemade caramel corn, and cream soda.
If that sounds insanely idyllic though, remember this: it also involved taking a toddler to the library.
With a baby in the carrier and a book bag over one arm (a book bag that grew increasingly heavy the longer we stayed), I had only one arm free for herding Phoebe away from the easy fiction, where she happily unshelved books one series at a time, and back toward the board books—only to have her slip away when I wasn’t looking and head toward the bathroom.
It is no coincidence that our Fridays also involved a post-library stop for coffee.
But while browsing the library with a toddler in tow has its downsides, it also has a few notable upsides: namely, the books she slipped into her own book bag, that were checked out by an older sister and brought home unnoticed until I pulled them out and read them aloud on our picnic blanket. We found a few gems that way.
We found Papa, Do You Love Me? that way.
This book is a beautiful, “Yes, child, I love you to the moon and back and nothing you can do will change that” sort of story, but it’s set in the Masai culture in Africa, so while it tells a familiar, comforting story, it also quietly shows how universal that story is. The child, Tender Heart, presses his father with questions: “Do you love me? How much? What would you do if I was hot? If I was thirsty but the river ran dry? If I disobeyed?” And his father answers honestly and beautifully, painting a picture not just of a father’s love but of Our Father’s love as he does so.
Papa, Do You Love Me?
Barbara M. Joosse, Barbara Lavallee (2005)