I would’ve never expected Jimmy Fallon’s children’s books - Your Baby’s First Word Will Be Dada and Everything is Mama - to be among my favorites to read at Bo’s bedtime. They are so simple, elegant, and fun. Bo can follow-along and participate in telling the story. They’re charming and illustrated well. The premise of each is simple but impactful. I like them.
His books don’t heavy-handedly convey a life lesson, either. They just get out of the way of themselves, and still do convey a simple, but special idea, in a way that’s really lovely.
The books we have by Philip and Erin Stead are the same way. We have three (well, four, but one is for bigger kids and we haven’t read it yet), thanks to our friends Mike and Jenny - A Sick Day for Amos Mcgee, A Home For Bird, and Lenny and Lucy. They all are about friendship in one way or another. But they don’t ever explicitly say “friendship is important and great”, they just show it in a way that lasts in your mind.
I bring this up because it’s such a generous way to tell a story. It lets the story be ours. It lets Bo figure important things out on his own. It takes the spotlight off of the author’s opinion. It leaves room for discovery and contemplation. It’s so selfless because it puts the emphasis on the story instead of the author.
There are plenty of children’s books that aren’t like this. Some beat you over the head with an idea. These stories are presumptuous and boring. Other stories are mindless and unrooted in any sort of theme.
Bravo to the storytellers out there who put the story ahead of themselves as the author. It’s hard to explain without reading the story, so here’s a link of Jimmy Fallon reading one of his books.