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Why I Censor Our Bedtime Reading
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Why I Censor Our Bedtime Reading

By 49thShelf
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tagged: kids' books
"I don't believe in censorship, but" is not a promising start to anything, I know, but I hope you will bear with me. I practice censorship with our family's bedtime reading not for reasons concerning books that raise difficult questions, issues of morality, or hints of darkness (and in fact, these are usually the kind of books I love best), but because I want to enjoy our family's story time just as much as my children do, and because, as one of the two members of our family with the skills to read aloud, I reserve the right to refuse to read any book I don't like. Or at least the right not to read it more than once... Because reading together should be good for everyone. And because a parent or caregiver who genuinely loves the books she is reading is going to do a far more convincing job of both conveying the pleasures of literacy, and making reading together a priority. So aren't we fortunate then that there are so many great Canadian picture books that I love as much as my children do? At our house, the need for Mother-censorship rarely arises. The following are books that all of us love, books that make our story-times such pleasure, books that we don't even actually read anymore because we each of us know them by heart. These are books that I will never outgrow and I hope my children never do either.
Mabel Murple hc
Why it's on the list ...
It seems impossible to pick just one Sheree Fitch book, but if I have to, it will be this one, the story of a purple planet with purple people on it, in particular a purple girl whose name rhymes with purple. Mabel Murple is fearless, spirited, and a brilliant antidote to the tyranny of pink. This book is a fantastic, tongue-twisting, read-aloud fun (and will introduce you to the wonders of purple maple syrple and Mabel Murple's super-duper purple stew).
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Night Cars
Why it's on the list ...
My husband and I have been reading this book to our daughter since before she was born, and when she was very small, our party trick was having her finish the lines of verse that she's heard so many times: "Slow snow falling deep. Cars dogs baby sleep." She's not a baby anymore, but we still love to read the book aloud together, the familiar lines a lullaby. A wonderful ode to nighttime, Dads, and the never-sleeping city street.
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Singing Away the Dark
Why it's on the list ...
I will be honest—I think I love this book more than my daughter does. She remains confused as to why the little girl (aged six) must walk through the woods alone to get to the school bus in the morning (although our own urban winter treks to school can be just as trudging). But I love this book's rhyming verse whose rhythm evokes each one of our heroine's steps, and there have been times in which I've thought of that little girl's strength when in need of some courage of my own, and then remembered how to be brave.
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Beneath the Bridge

Beneath the Bridge

by Hazel Hutchins
illustrated by Ruth Ohi
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover
tagged :
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Why it's on the list ...
Can you tell we've got a thing for rhyming verse? But then rhyming verse was what reading aloud was born for. Our copy of Beneath the Bridge has fallen apart, literally read to pieces, but we keep on reading it anyway. It's the story of a paper boat set to sail in a stream and then it moves on and on to where the river grows bigger and the city grows up taller on the shore, until finally it's heading out to sea. It's a great book about geography and ecology, simply a rollicking adventure story, and we love exploring its detailed illustrations.
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The Party

The Party

edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback Paperback
tagged :
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Why it's on the list ...
Picking just one Barbara Reid is also tricky, but I'm going with this one because the rhyming verse never misses a beat and because its story of cousins, devilled eggs, and grandparent birthday parties reminds me of when I was little. And my daughter loves it because there is so much action, somehow so perfectly captured in Reid's plasticine art. A story of nostalgia that will never get tired.
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Little You

Little You

by Richard Van Camp
illustrated by Julie Flett
edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook
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Excerpt

Little you
little wonder

Little wish
gentle thunder

You are mighty
you are small

You are ours
after all

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Why it's on the list ...
This book is new to us, and was specially chosen from 49th Shelf's Bookseller recommendations in December. It's a board book from the perspective of new parents welcoming a baby to their family, though the wonder of watching your little one grow goes on long after baby-dom, of course, so I think we'll keep this book around, even once my baby stops chewing on it. I especially love the detail in Julie Flett's deceptively simple illustrations, in particular the big toe sticking out of Baby's Mama's bright red tights, which is kind of the story of my life.
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Flock of Shoes

Flock of Shoes

by Sarah Tsiang
illustrated by Qin Leng
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover
tagged : beginner
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Why it's on the list ...
A book about shoes and postcards—does it get any better than this? It's a book also about how difficult is change and growth, but about how both these things are part of a cycle. It's autumn and Abby refuses to give up her sandals, with their perfect fit and reminder of summer, and then one day her sandals fly away, south, the way the birds go. They send her postcards from the tropical locales where they are resting for the winter. Will they return in the springtime? And what of the winter boots hitching a ride on a freight train bound for the north? A satisfying, magical tale.
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When I Was Small
Why it's on the list ...
And how do you pick just one Henry book? Well, I pick them all, but let's settle on the most recent one. In this one, Henry's mother finally gets a turn to tell her own story, recounting her own childhood ("when I was small…") when she lived in a dollhouse, slept in a mitten, and wore a daisy for a sun-hat. Henry is the one who, when he was small, his parents gave baths to in a teapot. But he doesn't quite remember. I love these stories for their cleverness, lovely illustrations and what they tell us about stories and the mutability of our own histories.
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