Finding the Quiet Within: Children’s Books for Adults
Updated: Aug 16, 2019
At first, I stuck to the classics — the books I knew from my own childhood, because they had served me well and happily all my life and probably had no small hand in turning me into the reader I am today. As a result, while I still carried my first baby within, I filled his bookshelf with titles like, The Little House, Make Way for Ducklings, Stone Soup, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I had online wishlists filled with even more titles my parents had read to me as a kid that I hoped to read to my own children.
I didn’t know much about and therefore rather disdained any new children’s books that had come out in the last 25 years. Possibly even the phrase “new fangled” flitted across my thoughts when I considered them. Yes, I was decidedly closed-minded. On the brink of a great unknown, which scared me more than anything else I had yet done, I huddled close to the known. I braced a copy of Eloise against my chest as if that pink and black book would help me navigate and cope with the years of being a mother. I saw myself reading Goodnight Moon every single night which somehow would cement my maternal excellence.
But then friends who had kids before me started giving me books not found on my narrow wishlists. They gave us Haiku Baby, Lost and Found, and The Curious Garden. As a result of her nannying years, my sister introduced me to Peter McCarty’s art in Hondo and Fabian, after which I hunted down his ethereal Moon Plane. Still other friends introduced us to the amazing BabyLit series which I now obsessively hoard as every time a new title comes out.
I do read these books to my boys, but there are many times when I read them just to myself. I find a tidy space of quiet within the pages of And Then It’s Spring, both within the words and the illustrations. And there’s something about Oliver Jeffers’ drawings and text that can catch me between a laugh and a sob. And sometimes I read Haiku Baby to calm my brain down before I sleep. And oh my god, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus captures pure hilarity in the perfect beat and measure of the author’s delivery.
So now I find myself giving children’s books to friends. I give them in the same way I might give The Night Circus or Where’d You Go Bernadette. It doesn’t matter if they have kids or not, I’m giving the books for them to read.
No matter what the subject, reading is a meditative event where you can completely lose yourself and happily disconnect from the world for a time. Many of us find that we don’t have time for a 300-page meditation these days, but I know we all should find time for 32-pages of small doses of quiet and loveliness.
Start with And Then It’s Spring. Then find more.