Storytime: Home

This week I’m reading books to the kids that all touch on the theme of home. Clay and I moved into a new home fall 2020, away from doggy doors and backyards and neighborhoods to a building with an elevator that takes us up to our condo on the 26th floor. Some of the things I most looked forward to we are still looking forward to, because they still haven’t happened! Going right across the street to work at the library, walking to concerts at Moody Theater or catching a movie at the Violet Crown still can’t happen due to Covid. BUT, we have loved being close to the hike and bike trail, the library is still open for pickups, and there are still tons of things to love about our new home. The sunsets are spectacular, and covid can never take those away.
We also love watching the skyscraper going up next door, walking to the grocery store and restaurants to sit outside with Humphrey, and maybe our favorite, we love the dog park where we’ve met wonderful people and dogs. I would love to write a series of books about the whole world of our dog park, a world of drama and intrigue that brings us much delight.
I also love my new office in our home, where I zoom with the kids to do storytime every Tuesday morning. This week, we read these books about home. If you’ve got more books you’d recommend about home, leave them in the comments, I’ve love to add them to my list!

The Home Builders by Varsha Bajaj, illustrated by Simona Mulazzani

A perfect book to share with kids about all the different sorts of homes animals live in, and the illustrations are gorgeous. There’s lots to look at, lots to find as the text asks “do you see?” and homes house growing families. The book culminates in a spread showing all the animals sharing our cumulative earthly home, what a blessing of a book and a special bonus that it’s written by a dear friend.

This book makes a great read aloud with the predictable repetition of each animal coming along and doing something different with the book, from making it a home to a hat to a meal (love that little book worm) when along comes a different sort of human animal who knows just what to do with this strange-looking thing. All the animals gather around to hear the story, their story. What a wonderful book indeed!
This book is written by an Austin author, shout out to Vanessa who also wrote Lucy and the String, another great read aloud I shared with my kids when we did a storytime all about kindness. In this book, a little box turtle hatches without a shell. His parents give him “a name and a shell that fit just right” (Terrance, and a cardboard box) but after getting bullied by some turtles with more traditional shells, he sheds his box and with the help of a crab is off to find something different. A mailbox, a jack-in-the-box, a treasure box . . . even a litter box (so much humor in the illustrations!), but nothing works and he eventually returns and with the help of friends dons his old, fixed-up box and realizes he’s more than his shell. Ahhhhh.
Shout out to another Austin author, Christina, who has won tons of starred reviews and awards (two Newbery Honors!) I won’t even try to list them all. This picture book came out this year and I love that I got a sneak peek at it in a workshop we did together years before. It’s the story of five siblings who live together in a ramble shamble house who hear about a proper house and think that’s what their house needs to look like, too, so they get to work. I often remind myself, and my kids, of the famous quote often attributed to Teddy Roosevelt, “comparison is the thief of joy.” The kids in this book soon learn that their old house and their old ways may not have been “proper” but they were better, and in the end they all stay up watching the youngest make a proper mess. Thank you, Christina, I want to hug this book.
This book came to my attention because I tuned in to a live storytelling Bookpeople was doing on Instagram and fell in love with it. While it’s perfect for kids, I read it to my 22-year-old son who is currently on the job hunt, and I’d absolutely read it to my critique partner for encouragement. It’s for anyone who’s heard too many no’s lately, and it’s for any kid wanting a good story. This dog just wants a good home, he keeps sending letters to potential people, moving on down the list until he resorts to the grouchy junkyard owner and even the abandoned house, but he keeps getting “no’s”. But, as my friend Bethany Hegedus likes to remind me, there’s this famous line from a Wallace Stevens poem, “After the final no there comes a yes/And on that yes the future world depends.” The dog gets his yes from an unexpected place-this book makes me swoon and gives me goose bumps-best wordless double page spread EVER!! It’s told in a series of postcards, I’ve probably written more words in this synopsis than are in the whole picture book. Highly recommend.

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