by Laura Sassi
There’s a scene in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s LITTLE HOUSE IN THE BIG WOODS in which Laura and Mary spend a magical morning etching pictures in the frosted windowpanes of their little cabin using Ma’s thimble. As a child I wanted to try that, but our windows were too well-insulated to gather frost. Imagine my delight, then, a few winters ago to discover thick frost completely covering the old-fashioned windows of our detached garage. Remembering that scene from Wilder’s book, I longed to find a thimble and do a little ice etching of my own. And that’s exactly what I did one day, using my keys, instead. Doesn’t it look magical?
Like window frost begging to be etched, good picture books invoke in me a nostalgic return to childhood and a reminder of the simple joys in life. When my children were younger, our days were enriched by reading picture books. What a treat it was to curl up together on the sofa with a stack of books. The joy we found in those books was not flashy or over the top, but simple and deep. We cheered on Mike Mulligan and Maryanne, from Virginia Lee Burton’s MIKE MULLIGAN AND HIS STEAM SHOVEL (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 1939), to dig a little faster and a little deeper, and afterwards, scurried outside do our own digging in the snow. And Sam McBratney’s GUESS HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU (Candlewick, 2005) evoked such warmth that we held our own matches to show how much we loved each other.
If you’re feeling like you’ve gotten too caught up in the busy-ness of life, may I suggest heading straight to the children’s department of your nearest library or bookstore and stocking up on some of your old favorites as well as some delightful new picture books? Then curl up and read, read, read!
It won’t take long to feel the magic, for picture books hold within their 32-pages, that sometimes much-needed reminder that our deepest joys are found in the simple pleasures of life – baking, imagining, exploring nature, loving others.
Need help getting started? Here are a few of my favorites from over the years:
Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Cookies: Bite-Sized Life Lessons, illustrated by Jane Dyer (HarperCollins, 2006)
Diana Murray's Ned the Knitting Pirate, illustrated by Leslie Lammle (Roaring Brook Press/Macmillian, 2016)
Lindsey McDivitt’s Nature's Friend: The Gwen Frostic Story, illustrated by Eileen Ryan Ewen (Sleeping Bear Press, 2018)
Sarah Weeks’ Woof: A Love Story, illustrated by Holly Berry (HarperCollins, 2009)
This post was adapted from a post that originally appeared on Laura's blog, https://laurasassitales.