Picture Book Revelations

My sons cherished certain picture books. Ox-Cart Man, Little Engine That Could, and Llama, Llama Are You my Mama? are seared into my memory.

What I wish I had known—and only recently realized—was that favorite preschool books were a key to understanding both my children’s personalities and their deep longings.

The boys were too young to communicate or perhaps be fully conscious of these desires, but looking back, I can list reasons why particular books appealed to each son.

The only picture book I remember from my childhood is Daddy’s Birthday Cakes by Miss Frances. I remember waiting patiently for my mother to finish washing dishes so she could read—and the disappointment when she didn’t have time.

A friend found that treasure in excellent condition on eBay. I bought it for a ridiculous amount, and yet, a small amount for the pleasure it gave me. The story was as I remembered. Illustrations—even details such as the mother’s scarf—were deeply familiar.

Now, I can list how each moment in the plot and certain illustrations met a longing. It is a new window into my childhood.

Are any longings revealed in your children’s favorite books? Your favorites?

If you have something you would like to share with Mollie, please use the form below.