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Challenge: Reading Together

Motherhood Summarized in Four Picture Books

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I love picture books. As a child growing up, I can recall spending countless hours reading and turning the pages of picture books, scanning the illustrations in detail. I must have stopped reading picture books when I was around eight years old, and have a vague memory of reading a picture book as a teenager, when I was babysitting. But it was when I became a mother, thirteen years ago, when picture books made their way back into my life. When I become a mother, I re-discovered my love for children's picture books.

I adore picture books. There are so many amazing picture books out there on just about any topic! As I gathered some of my favorite picture books for this challenge, I noticed a pattern; my favorite picture books explore one thing: the relationship between a mother and child and enduring love.

Here are a few of my favorite picture books exploring a child's relationship with his/her mother. The stories are sweet, timeless and explore the universal of a mothers love for her child.

The Runaway Bunny by Margeret Wise Brown
In this story, a young bunny tests his independence and mother's love through the proclamation he's running away. The young bunny creates many scenarios of running from his mamma; by becoming a fish and swimming away, transforming into a rock high on the mountain, and joining the circus as a tightrope walker. In each scenario, the mama bunny emphatically responds she will run after and find the bunny wherever he goes, and the mama bunny always finds a way to her child. My favorite line in the book, when the young bunny says he will become a bird and fly away, and the mama bunny says, "If you become a bird and fly away from me, then I will be a tree that you come home to." I tear up evert time I read this line, but you have to see the illustrations, so timeless and sweet.

A mother will do anything and go anywhere for her child; a mother's love is unconditional and unwavering.

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
This story opens with Chester the raccoon apprehensive to go to school. He is crying wanting to stay with his mother. Through encouraging words and love of his mother, Chester is asked to imagine all of the wonderful activities and friends he will meet at school. Chester is still wavering with apprehension, and that's when his mother gives him a kiss on the hand; a concrete reminder for Chester to know his mother is always with him, even when they are apart. Chester has a great day at school, and when he has a couple of tough moments, Chester remembers his mother's kiss in his hand, which gives him the strength to know, his mother is always with him, wherever he goes.

Even when a mother is separated from her child, she loves and thinks of her child; their heart lives within hers.

Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara Joosse and Baraba Lavallee
This book has beautiful illustrations and storyline about the Inuit culture. The story begins with a daughter asking her mother how much she loves her through a series of questions attempting to measure and quantify her mother's love. From how big, to how long, and when she transforms into a musk-ox, or accidently breaks ptarmigan eggs, and intentional misbehaving of putting salmon in her parka and lemmings in her mukluks. The mother's response, forever and always.

A mother can be frustrated, upset and annoyed and can forgive and continue to love her child, regardless of her behaviors. Even when a child's behavior and moods are challenging and testing, a mother will always love and forgive.

Someday by Alison Meghee and Peter Reynolds
This story begins with a mother holding her baby girl, counting her fingers and toes with affection. The mother narrates the story, telling all of the precious, everyday moments with her daughter as she grew; feeling the first snowflakes, holding her hand crossing the street and learning to ride a bike. As her daughter falls asleep, the mother begins to wonder about all of the experiences and emotions her daughter will have as she grows up; joy, sorrow, wonder, and inspiration. And the daughter grows up, and creates her a life for herself, always remembering her mother's love.

Being a mother is a wondrous and challenging journey, and there is a natural process of separation between a mother and a child, allowing a child to create their life. In the midst of change and growth, no matter the age of a child, a mother's love is endless and always in her child's heart and mind.

Writing this piece has made it very clear to me, the phase of picture books in my life as a mother is starting to fade. At this time in my life, my youngest child is five and still wants to read picture books, but she's starting to move on to beginning reader books. My eight-year-old reads chapter books and my twin teenagers are into young adult novels. Picture books are slowly and steadily being replaced by easy readers, chapter books, and novels. But one thing I know, I am grateful to have reconnected with picture books for over a decade with my daughters. And maybe that's why my favorite picture books are all about mothering; the books are a reflection of what is going on in my day to day life as the mother of four daughters. I cherish these books and the skilled artistic gifts of the writers and illustrators to capture the most wondrous, loving and challenging role in my life, being a mother.

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