Welcome to 31 Days of Picture Books!
I’m beginning the series with the two books that started our family’s house of books long before we were even a family. It should be no surprise that they are Little Golden Books. If you don’t have Little Golden Books from the 60s-80s in your home, get to the nearest second-hand bookstore you can find and load up. They are called golden for a reason. Although, they’re more a dull silver after 30 years…
When I was 1 one year old, my parents gave me The Store-Bought Doll for Christmas. The book is by Lois Meyer and illustrated by Ruth Sanderson (famous for her version of The Twelve Dancing Princesses). It tells the story of Christina, a little girl (dressed in adorable calico) who lives on a farm with her parents and treasures her rag doll and best friend, Lucy. One day, she is given a china doll from the city. The doll is breathtakingly beautiful. Christina spends the day entranced by her new doll. But Christina soon learns that love is based on character qualities instead of appearance, even when it comes to dolls.
Looking back now, I can’t say for sure that this book is the source of my love for dolls, but I think it had something to do with my attachment to my too-many dolls from age 2 into my teens. Oh, who am I kidding, I still have most of them. How can I ever get rid of a doll after reading this book? Some of them my daughter (and son…he’s going to be a great dad one day) plays with now. However, there are two rag dolls in the attic that have been so well-loved, they are beyond playing with. One of them is named Lucy. But she’s not the only Lucy doll in our house. My daughter is 4 and she is a two-doll girl. She has others, but they are high on a closet shelf 95% of the time. However, Lucy and Christina are her constant companions. They play with her every day and sleep with her every night. And yes, she picked those names herself at age 2. Makes my heart sing.
My husband’s book foundation is a more well known book, The Boy With a Drum by David L. Harrison and Eloise Wilkin. It is a rhyming, sing song book of a little boy who marches off his porch one morning playing his drum. He is the Pied Piper of animals with that drum, collecting quite a parade that stretches from morning to moonlight. I’ve read this book a thousand times, and I’ve yet to read it to a child who didn’t want to read it again. That last image of the boy marching over a hill under the moon makes my mother-heart ache. It’s just a story, but I’d rest easier if that little boy ended up in his little, soft bed being tucked in by his mother.
I am becoming a collector of Eloise Wilkin books. Her illustrations feel like home to me. My Nana and Grandaddy gave me My Goodnight Book when I was almost one, and my mom always wanted to read We Help Mommy or We Help Daddy (I wonder why? Just kidding. I encourage the reading of those books now, too!). When I see an Eloise Wilkin book in a bookstore for a good price, I snatch it up.
Which books did you read over and over as a child?