I read picture books as voraciously as I read other kinds of literature for one simple reason: I wouldn't want to miss out on some of the best storytelling and art work being offered today.
As with my text-heavy fiction of yesterday, lots of these books were published in other years. Many of them will be available through your library systems; all of them are good for giving and receiving and sharing with friends of all ages. Every one of them carries important spiritual messages (hey, I am a minister, don't be so surprised that I like books with heart-centered wisdom), even the alphabet book.
When possible, I link to author websites or other community websites. You're able to choose your own bookseller.
Tomorrow's Theological Thursday, so I'll share my round-up of theological titles.
Melanie Watt (2008) Scaredy Squirrel. Hurry, hurry, hurry to share the most important parable I read this year. Feeling squirrely? Hey, meet yourself right here in the yearning to control our fears and learning to meet adventure with joy.
David Ezra Stein (2010) Interrupting Chicken. Hilarious! I’d tell you more, but some chicken will interrupt me.
Vanda Micheaux Nelson & R. Gregory Christie (2009) Bad News For Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshall. Bass Reeves is bigger than life, and yet a real-life hero, little known or told about in American history. That Reeves was illiterate, a former slave, and one of a small number of African Americans in a territory ripe with racial discrimination only makes his story more compelling, as he became one of the most trusted bearers of law and order in his day.
Keith Baker (2011) LMNOPeas. Yes, it is an alphabet book, but these peas have attitude. Seriously. Working peas and dancing peas and peas that please, baby, please, know how fabulous they are. You will too, if you pick it up and read.
Eric Kimmel (2011) Joseph and the Sabbath Fish. What does hospitality and generosity have to do with the Sabbath? Kimmel gives us a tale of two neighbors and what it means to truly keep the Sabbath with steadfast love.
Juan Felipe Herrera (2000) The Upside Down Boy/ El niño de cabeza. What is it like to go to school and not belong? How might one child come back to feeling right side up? This is a beautifully told story, with fabulous poetry and artwork, and an amazing teacher.
Jeanette Winter (2008) Wangari’s Trees of Peace. Wangari Maathai died earlier this year, which is when I turned to this picture book to recall her fierce and compassionate spirit. Unlike many picture books, this one addresses violence directly, imprisonment for our beliefs and actions, and the good work of communities coming together to create hope, healing, and merciful justice.
James Rumford (2008) Silent Music. I’ve read several introductions to the art and poetry of Islamic calligraphy, but none of them hold a candle to this simple and elegant picture book of a boy during the bombing of Baghdad, who retreats into the art of praying with a pen.
Karen Lynn Williams, Khadra Muhammad (2007) Four Feet, Two Sandals. Two refugee girls scramble in the midst of a clothing distribution and come up with one sandal each. What will they do? This is a story of learning how to be friends through generous imagination, after dislocation and loss.