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The Power of the Written Word

I love books.  All shapes, sizes, genres.  But I am a real sucker for children’s picture books.  When I was young and pondering my future careers my mother thought I should write and illustrate children’s books or be a librarian.  I did neither and now wish I had.  (How is it that this woman knew me better than myself?! Well that is a topic for another day.)

When we go to the library, and this has been hundreds if not thousands of times since I became a mother, I am just as likely as my daughters are, to be the one sifting through the shelves of picture books and wobbling to the counter under the weight of twenty books.  Among those stacks I have found old favorites that I had forgotten existed (Mouse Tales by Arnold Lobel) and new gems (The Ernest and Celeste, a French series about a sweet bear and mouse).  And I have found many moments of growth with my three girls: peaceful ones in the pages of a classic, sad ones just before a new milestone, wondrous ones as we slip through time or across continents, educational ones as we crack open difficult subjects like racism, sex, and death.

Here are a few of my favorites, separated by topic, from the past sixteen years.  This is by no means an exhaustive list and I would welcome additions via comment.

Beginning School

Starting School, Janet and Allan Ahlberg

The Kissing Hand , Audrey Penn


Moving House , Usborne First Experiences

Amy and Louis , Libby Gleeson


Badger’s Parting Gifts , Susan Varley

Difficult Days (as a child)

Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day , Judith Viorst

Harriet You’ll Drive Me Wild! , Marla Frazee

Mum’s Don’t Get Sick , Marylin Hafner

A Difficult Day , Eugenie Fernandes

The Depth of a Mother’s (or Father’s) love

Always , Anna Pignataro

I Forgot to Say I Love You , Miriam Moss (wonderful for working mothers in our harried worlds)

I’ll Always Love You , Paeony Lewis

I Love You Stinky Face , Lisa McCourt

Runaway Bunny , Margaret Wise Brown

Love You Forever , Robert Munsch

Just In Case You Ever Wonder, Max Lucado


Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go To Bed, Joyce Dunbar

Big Sister and Little Sister , Charlotte Zolotow

You’re All My Favorites , Sam McBratney

Shelia Ray the Brave , Kevin Henkes

When a child is away from mom or dad

The Invisible String , Patrice Karst

Self Esteem, Self Affirmation

Cleversticks , Bernard Ashley

I Like Me , Nancy Carlson

Just Because I Am , Lauren Murphy Payne, MSW

I Like Myself , Karen Beaumont

Differences, Diversity, Girlpower

Something Else , Kathryn Cave

You Are Special, Max Lucado

Who’s Whose? , Jan Ormerod

Just a Little Different , Gina and Mercer Mayer

It’s Okay to Be Different , Todd Parr

Extraordinary Girls, Maya Ajmera, Olateju Omolodun, Sarah Strunk

Girls Hold Up This World , Jada Pinkette-Smith

Worries, Fears

Don’t Worry About Tomorrow , Melody Carlson

Up and Down the Worry Hill (specifically about OCD), Aureen Pinto Wagner

Sensory Processing Disorder

Meghan’s World , Diane M. Renna

Big Feelings

Let’s Talk About Needing Attention, Let’s Talk about Feeling Angry, Let’s Talk About Being Helpful , all by Joy Berry

The Way I Feel Books: When I Care About Others, When I Feel Angry, When I Feel Sad among them, Cornelia Maude Spelman

Getting Rid of Pacifiers

The Last Noo-Noo , Jill Murphy

Adoption, Generally (also check out or )

A Mother for Choco , Keiko Kasza

All Together Now , Anita Jeram

How I was Adopted , Joanna Cole

The Day we Met , Phebe Koehler

Let’s Talk About It: Adoption , Fred Rogers

Transracial Adoption

In My Heart , Molly Bang (not specifically on adoption, but the illustrations indicate transracial adoption, and it is just a lovely book)

I Don’t Have Your Eyes , Carrie A. Kitze

Families Are Forever , Deb Capone

Chinese Adoption

Motherbridge of Love , Xinran, illustrated by Josee Masse

When You Were Born in China , Sara Dorow

Kid’s Like Me in China , Ying Ying Fry

I Love You Like Crazy Cakes , Rose Lewis

Emma’s Story , Deborah Hodge

Just Add One Chinese Sister, Patricia McMahon

World Travel, World Cultures

Children Just Like Me , Barnabas and Annabel Kindersley