Pepper was recounting her day at our weekly co-op to her father. She was talking about our creative writing class, “And then mom says, ‘I won’t tell you this is my favorite picture book because…’ and we all say, ‘because all of the books are your favorite.’ But then mom says, ‘Well, it’s definitely in my top five favorites.’ But I know, she has at least ten books in her top five favorites.”
She’s not wrong.
I love children’s books. Picture books, novels, young adult fiction. Which is not to say I don’t also love books written for adults. I do, but probably as a genre, not as much. Anytime I find myself in a bookstore or a library, the first place I head is to the children’s section.
Starting in high school, I collected a lot of children’s books. Ironically, now that I have children of my own, I don’t buy books nearly as much, but that’s because I’m at the library on average of once a week so there is no lack of children’s literature in my house on any given day. Every once in a while something truly special comes along and I’ll buy myself a copy.
The amazing and wonderful thing that has happened since I had children of my own is that I love children’s literature even more. Now don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of crappy children’s books out there that made me want to stab myself in the eyes just so I don’t have to read them ever again. But, if you’ve ever soaked in the peals of laughter from a toddler as you read “The Monster At The End of this Book”, or collectively caught your breath, wondering if you are ready to turn the page and find out the life-changing decision Minli makes in “Where The Mountain Meets the Moon” or wiped away tears when favorite characters die (or seem to die) in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. My girls and I have created lasting memories sharing books together in ways both bordering on cliché and totally unexpected.
So when I share books at co-op once a week, the kids think it’s for them. And why not? I built not one, but two classes around children’s books. When I share these brilliant books written by authors full of amazing creativity dripping with jaw-dropping talent, I know the exact moments when the kids will be hooked – I love seeing that moment. Their faces are filled with awe and wonder, hanging on every word. Or they explode in knowing laughter; delighted to realize they were smart enough to get the author’s joke.
I used to think I’d own a children’s bookstore – a losing proposition even at it’s best in this day and age. Or that maybe I’d write a children’s series – and I may although it hasn’t played out as of yet. Right now I’m pretty happy just being the messenger and sharing wonderful stories that I love and I know the kids will love too. So I don’t mind if they think I have ten favorite books in my top five favorite book list. They’re underestimating that number ten-fold, but eventually they’ll figure it out.