If you’ve been to a bookstore or the library lately, you are well aware of the multitudes of dumbed-down books for kids (known as twaddle). There are treasures filling those shelves as well, to be sure, but they are harder to find. Truthfully, my kids will gravitate toward cartoon characters on book covers, even if they aren’t very familiar with those characters. Often, the content of such books is of little value. I do let them check out some lower quality books (if the messages are not inappropriate) to encourage their desire to read. I also point out and choose other books for them containing quality writing or beautiful illustrations, explaining what sets those books apart. Often, these are the books they’ll ask me to read over and over. Slowly, they’ll learn to spot a good book when they see one without me dictating what they should and shouldn’t read. For my daughter’s birthday, I bought her the Usborne unabridged copy of The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. The illustrations, by Richard Johnson, are dreamy and beautiful. Though the language is old-fashioned, my kids look forward to hearing it read aloud. It is rich with vocabulary (I plan on keeping the children’s dictionary close by when we read again tonight) and what a treat that is for young ears! Don’t shy away from such books because you fear the language is beyond your children’s understanding. You may be surprised at what they glean.
The Wind in the Willows