Some of my favorite moments reading to the kids lately have come when I’m reading to both boys at once. Owen, at 2, and Will, at 5, can both enjoy a longer picture book, each at their own level. I’m aware of Will hanging on every word, taking in the details of the verbal story, while Owen sinks himself into the picture and imagines himself in the book. Often he’ll interrupt us and insert himself into the story --- “I like that horse. Maybe that horse want kiss me.” Or “I want to ride that fish. I like go under.” Will and I sneak smiles at each other and continue on with the tale.
Of course I have to remember to return to very simple books with Owen too, who also delights in trying to recite words along with me. But there’s something special about reading together as a threesome.
A few favorite library picks lately that both Owen and Will have enjoyed:
"A Mama for Owen" by Marion Dane Bauer has an obvious draw in the title for our family. It’s also a sweet and fascinating tale since it’s based on the true story of a hippopotamus calf who, along with his family, was washed down the Sabaki River by a flood and then rescued by the Kenya Wildlife Service and local fisherman. According to the Author’s note, Owen was less than a year old and no one could find his mother. (Hippo moms normally stick by their babies for four years.) So Owen was brought to a nature preserve outside of Mombasa where he chose a 130-year-old male tortoise to be his mother – and the tortoise was perfectly willing to fill the role. A story good enough to be fiction.
"The Knight and the Dragon," written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola is short on words and long on humor. A knight who has never before fought a dragon, and a dragon who has never before fought a knight study up in anticipation of battling one another. Turns out they are both bumbling battlers and so they decide to launch a barbecue joint together instead. Much of the tale is told through pictures for the kids to interpret. Perfectly silly.
"The Wreck of the Zephyr," written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg, whose drawings are always captivating, is the wonderfully implausible story of a boy who learns for a fleeting moment to fly a sailboat after washing up on a mysterious island. This is a story perfect for Will, with pictures that keep Owen mesmerized through the telling.
"Annie and the Wild Animals" by Jan Brett tells the story of a girl who, after temporarily losing her cat, decides to lure in wild animals by placing corn cakes at the forest’s edge in hopes of taming one of the animals for a pet. Turns out her lost cat had just wandered away for a long spell to bring three kittens into the world. Owen asked for this one again and again, and Will liked it too.
Owen and Will also enjoy sitting down together for original tales of Curious George (the post-Rey spin-offs just aren't as good) and Bernard Waber's Lyle the Crocodile.
What do your children enjoy reading together -- or are they on different planets?