You’re All My Favourites

There seems to be an explosion of three-child families in the neighbourhood where I live.  Parents and caregivers crowd the sidewalks with their double strollers, pushed with one hand and a school-aged child attached to the other.  It got me wondering if the saying, “three is the new two” has any truth to it.

Just Google, “three child families” or “thinking about having a third”, and the results are overwhelming.  However, according to both an article in USA Today and Today’s Parent, the trend of three children families is not new but perhaps just more prevalent in certain areas.  Overall, the birth rate hasn’t exactly reflected a staggering jump in family sizes like in the 1950’s where four-child families were the norm.

Nonetheless, at least anecdotally for me, there seems to be truth to the saying.  The number of families that I know with more than two children is well into the double digits and just this past month I have joyfully heard of more families swelling to five.

Having three children is a challenge on many fronts and a blessing on many more.  When I was expecting our third, several well-meaning veterans who head up larger families were abundant with their advice and suggestions.  Two recurring warnings continue to echo in my ears:

  • It’s a lot harder to divide your time into three than two.  Make sure your children get lots of alone time with you.
  • Sibling rivalry is fierce when there are more than two children.  Each is desperate to carve out a niche for them.

While I do make an effort to spend alone time with each of my boys (thanks to a generous and supportive extended family), I know all to well that sibling rivalry is alive and flourishing in this house.

I have turned to a book, which was gifted to me by a mom of three, to help me out.  You’re All My Favourites, by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram (the famed duo behind Guess How Much I Love You).

This fifteen-page story is about three little bears questioning their place in the family.  One little bear is anxious that his parents don’t love him as much because he has no patches (like his siblings), the other little bear thinks that her parents don’t love her as much because she is the only girl and naturally, the youngest feels that his parents don’t love him as much because he is the smallest in the family.

The bears are reassured by their mom and dad that they are all their favourites and that each one of them contributes something special to the formation of their family.

Like many kids books (ahem, Robert Munsch’s Love You Forever and Audrey Penn’s The Kissing Hand), I shed a tear or a two over this story.

It’s a beautiful addition to any children’s library and a thoughtful gift for the family that just had their third baby (and really, what baby stuff do they need?).



Kids’ Books about Books

Over at my other blog, I review books about books: books about bookstores, libraries, book collecting, publishing, dictionaries.  Like that.  I collect them, and I started blogging about them as a way to structure and speed up my reading of my increasingly unmanageable collection.  It hasn’t really slowed the collecting, but it has given it structure and my blog has given me a lovely sense of a bookish community.

And because my love for books about books does not stop with my own collection, I always have a sharp eye out for kids’ books about books.  Last week, we got two new books.

Lane Smith’s It’s a Book is a book I’ve been looking forward to getting for several months, now, since reading about it over at Curious Pages.  The premise is that a book-loving monkey is repeatedly distracted from his reading by an obnoxious techie Jackass, who keeps mistaking the book for a computer/e-reader/i-phone.  (Much ink has been spilt about the “scandal” of having a character called Jackass.  Come on, people.) 

Jackass: Does it tweet?

Monkey: No, it’s a book.

Here is the book trailer.

Now I am firmly in favour of books in their paper form, and I have yet to be convinced of the joy of reading on an e-reader.  I am a prime audience member for monkey’s simple refrain: It’s a book.  The premise, the illustrations and the dialogue all tickled me pink, and I love the book. 

The boys?  Meh.  They don’t really know about tweeting and Kindles and such.  It did not grab Rowan’s attention, he’s five, and Griffin, who is nine and gets the references to the technology, is too old for this picture book format.  (He’s now reading The Hunger Games.) 

The other book about books was a much bigger hit: Mo Willems’s We Are in a Book!, part of the Elephant and Piggie early reader series.  Mo Willems is one of my favourite children’s author-illustrators, and the Elephant and Piggie books are, hands down, the most entertaining and engaging early readers I have come across.  The challenge for the author is enormous: a very limited vocabulary with which to tell an entertaining story that adults and children will want to read multiple times.  Willems’s books fairly overflow with personality, and each book stands up to dozens of rereadings.  This one is exceptionally good, and, in fact, explicitly invites multiple readings per sitting.  This is, after all, a goal when the idea is for the early reader to master the words in the book. 

Elephant and Piggie begin to realize that someone is watching them, and when they get up close and look out of the book, they discover that that someone is a reader!

Well, imagine the delight when your little reader is so-named by the very book s/he’s reading!  Rowan was just flush with pride and delight.

Once they know they have a captive audience, Elephant and Piggie get up to all kinds of tricks, and they had me in belly laughs.  Willems’s illustrations of the usually serious and worried Elephant in hysterical laughter are simply marvelous.  The hilarity is infectious, and we all, even Gavin, 2, had long, deep draughts of laughter. 

A clever meta-textual element to the story, lots and lots of laughs, and a built-in inducement to read it again, and again, and again.  A very big hit.  With all of us.

It holds a special place in my heart, too, because this is the first book that Rowan has read (almost) independently.  He’s a reader.

If you like the idea of kids’ books about books, here are some other picture book titles:

The Three Pigs by David Wiesner, in which the pigs escape the story itself and not just the big, bad wolf.

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, in which a fairy tale does not end in marriage.

The Incredible Book-Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers, in which a boy learns the contents of books by eating them, and then comes a cropper.

And for older readers:

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, in which the characters in books come to life when the books are read aloud.

Do you have any favourite kids’ books about books?