Tag: depaola

10 Great Books for Preschoolers

Your baby is not such a baby anymore. She’s speaking in clear sentences (though the syntax is often an endearing mess); she’s stopped eating books or throwing them off your shelves, but will instead sit still for stories longer than that of Pajama Time! What then? If you’re looking to bulk up that part of your library dedicated to good reads for the over two set, here are a few of my favorite books for preschoolers:

10 Great Books to Read With Your Preschooler | Little Book, Big Story

1. The Story of Creationby Norman Messenger

The Creation Story | Little Book, Big Story

The detailed (and animal heavy) illustrations are fun to study with small zoologists, and the story is a great one for those little readers to learn. (Read the full review.)

2. The Maggie B., by Irene Haas

The Maggie B. | Little Book, Big Story

I want there to be more books like this in the world. (Read the full review.)

3. Winnie-the-Pooh, by A.A. Milne

While there are families who prefer to save this book until the children are older, we’re a family of re-readers who wanted to get an early start on the wit and rollicking prose of A.A. Milne. Our girls enjoyed this book at four and again at six, and will no doubt get a little more out of it every time we re-read it as a family. (Read the full review.)

4. The Jesus Storybook Bibleby Sally Lloyd-Jones

The Jesus Storybook Bible | Little Book, Big Story

For a while there, we dropped this one out of the rotation. I brought it back as a lunch-time read and, forgetting how moving this book is, found myself weeping awkwardly into my quesadilla while my children waited patiently for me to regain my composure and turn the page. Lloyd-Jones’s powerful rendering of the gospel in simple (but not shallow) language makes this the best of the children’s Bibles. (Read the full review.)

5. The Golden Featherby David and JJ Heller

The Golden Feather | David and JJ Heller

The story is sweet; the illustrations, lovely. The hidden bunnies on each page take Dave and JJ Heller’s first picture book up the level of “Perennial Favorite.”  (Read the full review.)

6. We Are in a Book!, by Mo Willems

We Are in a Book! | Little Book, Big Story

How to describe this book? I can’t do it. But your little reader will love it (you will, too). (Read the full review.)

7. Let the Whole Earth Sing Praiseby Tomie dePaola

Tomie dePaola illustrates a beautiful hymn of praise in watercolors. Sized for little hands and short attention spans, it’s just right for reading over and over and over and over . . . (Read the full review.)

8. How to Be a Baby, by Me, the Big Sisterby Sally Lloyd-Jones

How to Be a Baby (By Me, the Big Sister) | Little Book, Big Story

What is the life of a baby like? You’ll know by the end of this book.  (Read the full review.)

9. Does God Know How to Tie Shoes?by Nancy Carlstrom

Does God Know How to Tie Shoes? | Little Book, Big Story

A young girl asks questions about God, but not catechism-style, “Who are the three persons of God?”-type questions. No, she wants to know if God has to clean his room and if he gets letters. Her parents answer her well and inspire me to step up my game. (Read the full review.)

10. Or, you could write your own stories

On Writing for Your Children | Little Book, Big Story

Sound like a crazy idea? It isn’t. (Read more.)

 Bonus List

Here are our favorite Christmas books to read with our preschooler:

1. The Stable Where Jesus Was Bornby Rhonda Growler Greene

The Stable Where Jesus Was Born | Little Book, Big Story

A gorgeous rhymed poem paired with rich yet cozy illustrations tell the story of Christ’s birth with beauty and grace. Also, there are kittens. (Read the full review.)

2. The Friendly Beastsby Tomie dePaola

The Friendly Beasts | Little Book, Big Story

This lovely book tells the story of Jesus’ birth through the lyrics of an old Christmas carol, and rounds it out with his own distinct illustrations. Tomie dePaola fans, you’ll love this one. (Read the full review.)

 

Petook: An Easter Story | Caryll Houselander

I have good news for you, and I have bad news. I’m going to operate off the assumption that you, like me, would rather hear the worst first, so here’s the bad news: Petook: An Easter Story is out of print and going for something like $60 (minimum) on Amazon. The good news is that there are still copies out there available for less than that (I did not pay $60 for mine), and this book is worth the work of checking Amazon regularly or haunting book sales, garage sales, or Goodwill. Better yet, our library here in town has a copy, so, quick! Race to our library website and put a hold on it now! (Or read on to find out why I’m being so bossy about a book about a chicken.)

Petook | Little Book, Big Story

To say that Petook is a beautifully written book would be entirely true. But to say that without mentioning Tomie dePaola’s illustrations would be a critical omission: the best bits of this story are not written, but are embedded within the artwork, making Petook an incredibly moving book, unforgettable and lovely to look at.

To explain exactly how this works is a tricky business, because the bulk of the book’s beauty rests in the subtlety with which it tells the story of Easter, and subtlety is hard to pin down. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been more tempted to skip the summary of a story entirely and simply order you to go get a copy, but we’ve already discussed the difficulty of doing exactly that (see above), so I’ll have to take a stab at it.

Petook: An Easter Story | Little Book, Big Story

Petook is a story with a foreground and a background. In the foreground is Petook (a rooster), his mate, Martha, and their chicks. Petook doesn’t do anything terribly exciting, really, but Houselander’s telling of his story stands alone so beautifully that it’s tempting miss the drama unfolding behind the rooster, where dePaola draws out the events of Holy Week so quietly that they nearly slipped past me during my first reading of Petook.

As Petook passes an uneasy night or anticipates the hatching of his newest chicks, tiny figures in the background of the paintings show Jesus and his disciples in the Garden of Gethsamene, with a line of soldiers marching toward them, or depict the tomb, shut up and under guard. As Petook stretches his wings restlessly, there on the hilltop behind him stand three crosses in silhouette. Petook responds to these events with the rest of Creation, grieving when Jesus is crucified, rejoicing when he rises again. At points, his story touches that of Christ (you’ll know them when you see them).

Petook: An Easter Story | Little Book, Big Story

Petook is a modest tale at first glance, but it deepens with each reading, thanks to dePaola’s unusual approach. It has become one of our favorite Easter stories, and tends to be the first to emerge from the attic each year and the last one to retire. If you’re able to get your hands on a copy, do! If not, keep your eyes open; be patient. Petook is a book worth hunting for.


Petook: An Easter Story
Caryll Houselander, Tomie de Paola (1988)

Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland | Tomie dePaola

Pop quiz: in twenty words or less, why do we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

If your answer is full of elipses and mumbled words like “leprecans,” “Ireland” or “some dude named Patrick,” then you’re sitting in the same boat I was before I came across Patrick: the Patron Saint of Ireland.


A few months back, it occurred to me that a number of our holidays are based upon some fascinating figures in church history, figures with challenging and inspiring stories that have, for the most part, been overshadowed by frothy glasses of Guinness and conversation hearts. So when I gave some thought to how we would celebrate these holidays in our family, I found the answer right there on the calendar in front of me: St. Patrick. Who was that guy, anyway?

And that is where Tomie dePaola comes in.

Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland | Little Book, Big Story

Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland tells the story of Patrick’s life, neatly divided into biography—and one full of adventure, at that—and legend, as dePaola uses the latter pages of the book to detail the different legends surrounding the life of Patrick. It is, of course illustrated in dePaola’s unique style, and the pictures tell the story with as much punch and detail as the narrative.

This is a great book to read around St. Patrick’s Day, yes, but it makes for fascinating reading all year round, as it provides you with an opportunity to teach your little one about the saints that have gone before us.

Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland | Little Book, Big Story


Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland
Tomie de Paola (1994)