July 2014 Issue
Reading For Pleasure
Book historian Leonard Marcus shares his favorite children’s stories.
To children’s book historian Leonard S. Marcus, there’s no better way to bond with the youngsters in your life than by reading to them.
“You don’t have to worry about sounding perfect like Richard Burton, which a lot of parents do,” says Marcus, author of Show Me a Story! Why Picture Books Matter: Conversations with 21 of the World’s Most Celebrated Illustrators
. “In fact, that’s the kind of thinking parents should throw away. The real point of reading a picture book to a child is for the experience of sharing a story with someone you love.”
Through Nov. 9, the Columbus Museum of Art is celebrating a variety of special tales in “Imagine! The Art of the Picturebook.” The exhibit showcases original drawings, paintings, prints and collages from renowned illustrators such as Robert Sabuda and Maurice Sendak.
“The sense of enjoyment picture books bring is unforgettable,” Marcus says.
Here are his five favorites:
Goodnight Moon written by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd
“The book is the ultimate lullaby for young children,” Marcus says. “The beautifully crafted language and appropriate art sets into motion a simple bedtime ritual that gives children a chance to say goodnight to the people and things that matter to them.”
Where the Wild Things Are written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak
“This is possibly the most perfectly designed picture book ever,” Marcus says. “It follows a child’s emotional inner adventure from anger to a sense of resolution and peace. The story is written in a way that’s a little playful and a little scary and not overwhelming. I never get tired of the turns of phrase, which are remarkable.”
George and Martha, written and illustrated by James Marshall
“The story is about two loveable hippos who are best friends, but don’t always see eye to eye,” Marcus says. “It’s a wonderful primer for children who are just moving into the social realm of preschool or kindergarten. It teaches them — and their parents — how to live in the world of their peers.”
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
A family splashes through a river and squishes through mud pretending to look for a bear. But a surprise is waiting in a cave tucked away in a dark forest. “The story’s inviting rhythmicity is part of its magic,” Marcus says. “Children can tap their feet and bounce their knees as they follow along.”
Brave Irene, written and illustrated by William Steig
This fairy tale-like narrative recounts the adventure of the daughter of a poor seamstress who, when her mother becomes ill, must deliver a gown to the palace in spite of the fierce blizzard that’s brewing. “It is,” says Marcus, “a classic story of braving the elements and overcoming obstacles.”