When Odin was just a tiny baby, we would sometimes read our books out loud so that he could hear the way written words sounded. Usually it was while he nursed to sleep cradled in my arms. I always envisioned doing this with my little one, even before there was a little one. As a child, I would read endlessly. After bedtime, I would read by the sliver of light from my bedroom door (it’s probably why I need glasses now). Reading is a wonderful habit to instill in children and it’s one that happens easily when there is no television or other easy escapes, at least in our house. Odin will ask to read book after book after book, each book being read more than once. His absolute favorite is Children of the Forest and I’m fairly certain it’s the book that sparked his love for books. We recently found a child’s rocking chair at the Take it or Leave it (at our local dump), and I rearranged his play area with the chair beside a few bee boxes filled with his books. The chair is right by the window, so that it is always well lit during the day. This change also really encouraged reading and it’s what I often recommend to other parents trying to initiate that love in their child. Another habit that we formed early on was visiting the library fairly regularly. After Odin turned one, we signed up for his very own library card which didn’t impress him much then, but now it’s one the most exciting parts of our Library visit. Children are very perceptive and taking the time to read with them, rather than turning them away because we are busy, is so important. It can be a little tedious (especially when you’ve read one book more than six times in a row), but in only a few weeks of persistent reading Odin is already sitting by himself and reading his books from time to time. Zak always reads two to three books to him before bed even though only one book is offered, O always asks for more. After Zak goes to work in the morning, I will read with him before we even get out of bed. There have been a few mornings that I have woken up to Odin crawling over me. When I ask where he is off to, he always tells me he’s going to get a couple books to read in bed.
We don’t try to sugar coat stories and if we come to a difficult place to understand, we try to explain in the best way we can. The Forest Children’s father must kill a snake in the book, but he does so to protect his family. The viper’s intentions are negative ones and the story is immediately followed by the boys imitating their father’s actions with a nest of ants. The boys are bit by the ants who are protecting their home, and their mother explains to them that one must never harm the creatures of the forest unless they mean you harm. This explanation seemed to ease Odin’s concerns and we even continued the discussion by talking about how finding a snake in the woods, does not mean they immediately mean us harm. We’ve talked about how observation is key and knowing when to make a decision like the forest children’s father is extremely important. Elsa Beskow is a magical author and all of her children’s books are truly magnificent. Pelle’s New Suit was another book of her’s that we borrowed from the library. The entire book is about the creation of a garment and all of the work it takes to make something with such quality. It’s important for us that Odin knows where his food, clothing, and other possessions come from, so this one was immediately a favorite of mine. Odin has been insisting on reading this and any other Elsa Beskow book we’ve come across. She is definitely the universal favorite in our house! In most all of her books, she combines reality with the fairy tale world. This is how I try and see my own life so after seeing her illustrations for the first time, I fell in love, even before reading her words.
A few Instagram friends asked for some book recommendations from Odin so we went through and picked out his favorites. These are all current favorites but there are a few others that cycle in and out of our daily story time. If you have any other recommendations for children’s books that you think we would love, please comment and let me know! We’re always looking to find new magical artists and writers and I hope you find a couple from Odin’s recommendations!
Pelle’s New Suit – Elsa Beskow
The Children of Hat Cottage – Elsa Beskow
Children of the Forest – Elsa Beskow
The Story of the Root Children – Sibylle von Olfers
The Story of the Snow Children – Sibylle von Olfers
Roxaboxen – Alice McLerran
The Maggie B. – Irene Haas
Mister Seahorse – Eric Carle
Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak