In the words of everybody’s favourite medical professional, Dr. Seuss
“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.”
My mother was an elementary school teacher with a great love for children’s books. I so fondly recall crawling up on to her lap in the giant, wooden rocking chair while we uncovered the latest adventures of Curious George and Amelia Bedelia.
Lucky for us Canada also has a long list of entertaining and engaging children’s literature to broaden the imagination of our nation’s youngest readers. There is no feeling quite like snuggling up in a cozy chair with the kids and diving into a family favourite. We seem to have more of these times as the weather gets cooler, as it is right now. We throw a log on the fire, pull a book off of the shelf and enjoy those calm moments in between the running, painting and Lego spaceship building. Our most loved Canadian children’s books include Dennis Lee’s “Alligator Pie”, Ashley Spires’ “The Most Magnificent Thing” and of course the timeless “The Hockey Sweater” by Roch Carrier. There are a couple of other books that I’m anxious to get our hands on including “Melvin and Elvis” by Dennis Lee and the newly released “Almost A Full Moon” from the super creative singer/songwriter/storyteller Hawksley Workman.
Now excuse me while I gush…
This summer, while traipsing around the East coast, we happened across another set of books that are sure to become Canadian Classics, “The Baby Lullaby” series written by P.L. McCarron. We bought “Nova Scotia Lullaby” for our daughter at a museum gift shop in Nova Scotia. We read, nope, we sang it that night before bed and fell in love with it. The illustrations by Joy Steuerwald caught my daughter’s eye right away and the words sang to my heart. Each page depicted, with stunning colour, a different scene in Nova Scotia. The Cabot Trail, the Fisheries Museum in Lunenburg, Boats in the Harbour and many more. Since they were authentic places, some of which we have been to ourselves, the book made us feel like we were a part of it. Sort of like hearing your name in a song or the name of your town on a tv show. We sang it to our own tune, changing it up based on our mood.
After a little bit of nosing around I discovered that they are actually written in Canada and was pleased to find that they were a true Canadian company based in tiny Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia. They have even produced a YouTube video of the song in the book. So sweet and so calming. I then realized that they have books for many of the provinces and territories, each with colourful illustrations of the natural beauty and a video to go along with each one.
I ordered the Ontario Lullaby book the day it was released and it arrived in our mailbox today. Swoon! The moose! Muskoka chairs! The loons! Even though I’m an Ontario girl, I’ve had some trouble finding an identity for this province, and this book does just that. I love that “Ontario Lullaby” portrays some places that we have been like Niagara Falls, Algonquin Park and the Muskoka’s and another that we are hoping to get to this year; the Rideau Canal.
I really want my children to experience the beauty of Canada first hand and be confident travelers as they grow. These books are a great way to instill that spirit of adventure and love of nature along with a joy for reading from the very beginning. These sweet stories will make the perfect addition to the gift basket or little library for every new baby.
At our house we try to practice the “Something they want ~Something they need~ Something to wear~ Something to read” philosophy when it comes to Christmas giving and I think I’ll put the rest of the set under the tree this year for our youngest.