Did you know that we’re coming to the end of National Children’s Book Week?  Did you even know that there was a National Children’s Book Week?  We didn’t, until Bob from Buffalo Street Books kindly passed along the information.  Now that we’re in the loop, though, we’re going to celebrate two ways!  First, we’re having a sale:  Today and tomorrow, all kids’ books at the Goose will be Buy 2, Get 1 (of Equal or Lesser Value).  Second, I’m going to rhapsodize about my favorite children’s books, and invite you to do the same.

 

Meryl’s Top 10 Kids’ Books, as of 8:44 PM on May 13th, and Subject to Change at Any Moment, because New Books Are Being Published Every Day, and Meryl is Just Generally Kinda Flaky

 

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

“Goodnight stars, goodnight air, goodnight noises everywhere.”

Really, I just had to get this one on the list right away, because it’s probably the best children’s book ever written, and if it’s not on your top 10 list, you’re probably a sociopath, and I’m sort of curious how you wound up reading this blog.

 

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

“And Max, the king of all wild things, was lonely, and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all.”

This is a really important book in our family, which I’ve probably mentioned one or two times before.  Quite possibly one of the most heartfelt moments in my entire life happened when older foster son was reading this book to younger foster son, got to the line above and said, “Hey, you know what?  In our house, we love you best of all.”   

 

If You’re Afraid of the Dark, Remember the Night Rainbow/Add One More Star to the Night by Cooper Edens

“If you’re at the end of your rope, untie the knot in your heart.”

This is technically two books in one, and therefore takes up two spots on the list.   I was introduced to the book(s) in college by my friend Martha, who makes a point of buying them as gifts for people she believes will truly appreciate their worth.  (Incidentally, Martha also frequently gives me the gift of editing my blog posts, out of the sheer goodness of her heart.)  If You’re Afraid of the Dark.. pairs whimsical illustrations with nonsensical yet beautiful modern proverbs.  The poignancy-per-page ratio in this text is higher than in any other book I’ve ever read, and even the youngest of listeners can appreciate that.

 

The Family Book or We Belong Together or really any book  by Todd Parr

“There are lots of different ways to be a family.  Your family is special, no matter what kind it is.”

Sometimes, when your family looks different from other families, and is different from lots of other families, your kids stop listening to you when you tell them for the eightieth time that different is okay.  They never stop listening to Todd, though, who conveys the message through perfectly chosen wording and engaging and vibrant pictures.

 

Someday by Alison McGhee & Peter H. Reynolds

“Someday, I will stand on this porch and watch your arms waving to me until I no longer see you.  Someday you will look at this house and wonder how something that feels so big can look so small.”

The Pia-Miller Family gave us (Corrina & myself) this book just a couple of weeks after she was born.  I read it to Rina when I put her to bed, and cry at the exact same page, every time, even when I read the book three times in a row.  For anyone who has a daughter, and who hasn’t read it yet, drop what you’re doing this very moment and go find a copy.  E-mail me.  I’ll lend you mine.  There’s a copy at the public library, under E McGhee, in the picture book section.  GO. 

 

The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss

“I’ve heard of your troubles. I’ve heard you’re unhappy.  But I can fix that.  I’m the Fix-it-Up Chappie.”

I’m a fan of the entire Seuss oeuvre, but in recent years, The Sneetches has emerged as my favorite.  (That slot was previously held by The Lorax, but a girl’s gotta move on.)   This book actually contains three stories in addition to the title story:  “The Zax,” “Too Many Daves,” and “What Was I Scared Of?” As is to be expected from Seuss, the rhyme is awesome, the underlying political commentary biting, and the overall reading experience, excellent. 

 

Today I Feel Silly by Jamie Lee Curtis

“Today I am quiet, my mom understands. She gave me two ice creams and then we held hands.  We went to a movie and then had a bite.  I cried just a little, and then felt all right.” 

Turns out that Jamie Lee Curtis is one of those actress-turned-something-elses who is actually really awesome at the something else.  This book in particular is very popular around our house, where mood swinging is practically  a competitive sport.  Plus, there’s a super fun wheel at the back that changes the main character’s facial features to match her moods.  Girl’s got some crazy eyes. 

 

I Like It When by Mary Murphy

This is just a cuter-than-average, run-of-the-mill board book.  We got it from our pediatrician, through the Family Reading Partnership, I think?  The way it wound up on this list is that it’s the first book that our little pre-reader learned to “read” out loud, using the picture cues to get the words exactly right.  There’s nothing like toddler pride splashed all over that dimpled face to endear a book to me forever.

 

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams                   

“Once you are real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

The extended version of the above quote was one of the readings at our wedding.  Plus, when I was a little girl, my copy of this book came with a recording of Meryl Streep narrating the story.  (It came on a record.  I’d listen to it on my Fisher-Price record player in the basement, and follow along.)  Meryl Streep has an awesome story-telling voice, in addition to her awesome name.   

 

What are your top ten children’s books?  Or top twenty, or top two?  I don’t care how many you’ve got, I just want to know — and a happy National Children’s Book Week to you. 

-Meryl at the Goose

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A beautiful piece of artwork crafted at IACC, Ithaca's Downtown Daycare Center, and currently on display at Mama Goose.

At the Goose, we see all types of mamas:  vegetarian and carnivorous mamas, working and stay-at-home mamas, home-schooling and public/private schooling mamas.  This last mama difference – the school issue — can sometimes seem divisive, especially in these challenging financial times.  Some customers are devoted to their home schooling cooperatives, while others are enraged about the potential elimination of funding for universal pre-K.  (That’s where the title of this post came from: one of our lovely teacher customers recently came into the store wearing an “Ithaca is Pre-K” t-shirt, to show her support for the ICSD pre-k program.)   I, personally, am a huge devotee of South Hill Elementary and New Roots Charter School, and could talk your ear off about the virtues of both.   The point is, with all of this love out there, it’s impossible for Mama Goose to be supportive of just one educational option.

This is where the blog, and you, lovely readers, come in.   All along, we’ve wanted to use this space as an open forum on all of the issues which interest our clientele, and education is definitely on that list.   If you have a schooling option about which you feel passionate, we’d like to invite you to submit a testimonial piece for our Educational Profiles series, which I will be officially launching in, say, one paragraph from now.   Just e-mail your thoughts on your child’s school/daycare/home-school experience to meryl@mamagooseithaca.com and, if possible, include some pictures of your shiny, happy children, you know, learning stuff.  If the timing is right, you can also utilize our back hallway art gallery and show off some school-inspired kiddie creations, to go with your words. 

I’m going to get this school-lovin’ party started, since I’m the one typing, and therefore get first dibs.  If you’ve heard me blabbering at the Goose lately, you may have heard that my littlest one has just started daycare full-time.  Huge shout-outs of thanks to the people who have looked at me kindly and asked not, “How is she liking it?” but “Oh… how are you doing?”  because, in truth, I’m not doing so hot.  I feel guilty, and paranoid, and I miss her, and when I forget to miss her, I feel guilty, and then paranoid, etc…  (Corrina appears to be handling daycare fine, although I worry that she’s lying awake at night planning my eventual and well-deserved demise since I obviously don’t love her enough to be with her every minute of the day.) 

The daycare program itself, IACC, is what has made this whole transition bearable.  Coming highly recommended by Mama Goslings Barb and Julie, and having the added advantage of being around the corner from our house, IACC was the perfect place for us even before we walked through the door.  Now that Rina’s there five days a week, and we know her wonderful teachers and adorable classmates, we’re even happier.  There’s only one wrinkle:  due to a variety of factors, IACC is under some serious financial pressure right now, and there was even talk of the 40-year-old program being forced to close.  Though there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel, IACC is still in the midst of a big push to raise funds and increase enrollment.  If you want to come out and show your support, or if you’re looking into daycare options, or even if you just want to catch a glimpse of my adorable family, you can do so this Saturday, May 1st, from 2 to 5 pm in Dewitt Park.  IACC is holding a benefit with music, magic, munchies, and much much more.  All are welcome. 

If you’d rather get a glimpse of IACC from the Goose, of if you’re just generally more into symbolic representation, drop by the back hallway art gallery, where beautiful works of art from the IACC classrooms, like the one pictured above, are currently on display.  Once you’re feeling inspired, drop me a line about your child’s learning experiences, and we’ll work together on sharing it with the Mama Goose world! 

An IACC informational poster is currently hanging with the artwork on display. Check it out in person next time you come in.

-Meryl at the Goose