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Books to Grow On
It's said that the best children’s literature appeals to the child in the adult and the adult in the child. Below, books for kids of all ages—and grown-ups who are young at heart—that simultaneously inform, challenge, and delight.
Picture Books for Young Children
Preschool to Grade 3
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin. Farmer Brown’s Holsteins presente! When the farmer won’t meet their demands for a warmer barn, the cows go on strike and rally other animals to bargain for better conditions. With goofy illustrations and plot details, the book is far from a heavy-handed treatise on union organizing, but children still take away the importance of speaking up for themselves and others. Simon & Schuster
He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands, written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson. The only words in this picture book are the lyrics to the titular spiritual, but Nelson’s lush illustrations make them sing. Beginning and ending with his place in the vast universe, the book follows a young boy as he flies a kite with his family, enjoys a rainstorm, and imagines life in distant lands. Dial Books
Silent Music, written and illustrated by James Rumford. As bombs fall on Baghdad in 2003, Ali finds comfort in soccer, pop music—and Arabic calligraphy. His pen strokes are embedded in the earthy collage style of the illustrations, with script adorning the background and details of garments. Drawing inspiration from a 13th-century calligrapher who made his art during another invasion, Ali observes that, in contrast to the word “war,” the pen “stubbornly resists me when I make the difficult waves and slanted staff of salam—peace.” Roaring Brook Press
Free for All
When Kevin Barbieux became homeless in 1982, he was new to Nashville. At first, he relates in an e-mail interview, he spent his days hovering around a rescue mission. Then, as he met other homeless people who introduced him to the city’s attractions, he began to explore. He took long walks by the Cumberland River, visited the Tennessee State Museum—and found himself browsing the stacks of the downtown library.
To 'Kiss The Sky'
So Much to Sing About
A trip to Africa produces a holy shake-up, and a new tune, for Jars of Clay.