Earlier this month, I found myself rifling through my bookshelves looking for multicultural picture books related to share with children. An unrepentant collector of books, I had plenty to choose from. As I pulled various books from the shelves, I was flooded with memories of sharing them with children over the years. As I read over titles, some evoked recollections of beautiful illustrations, while others brought back the emotions I felt from the character descriptions and vivid story lines.
I stumbled upon this gem, and my thoughts turned to the catchy chant I was unable to shake out of my head for the next few hours.
“Oh, the magic hat,
The magic hat,
It moved like this,
It moved like that…”
Da-dun da-da-dun, da-da-dun, da-da-dun.
It’s been years since I last read Mem Fox’s book about the adventures of the fly-away hat, but the rhythm and flow of her words has stayed with me to this day!
I pulled Koala Lou from the shelf. “Koala Lou, I DO love you!” I thought to myself. There is no rhyme or rhythm in Koala Lou, but the story of hope, disappointment and love featuring delightful illustrations of the Australian bush characters is one that all children and their parents can relate to.
I browsed through Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge, a story about a young boy and his elderly friend and next-door neighbor, Nancy Alison Delacourt Cooper. The special friendship between the boy, who wasn’t very old, becomes especially poignant as he seeks to rescue his friend’s dwindling memories. The juxtaposition of young and old, the making of memories and losing them makes for a special story that touches the hearts of readers every time.
The author Mem Fox simply has a way with words and I consider her to be one of my all time favorite authors. As an avid reader of children’s literature and a writer myself, I devoured her 1992 memoir, “Dear Mem Fox, I Have Read All Your Books Even the Pathetic Ones.” Mem started her career teaching drama to young children before studying literacy. In addition to her success as an author of children’s books, Mem spent many years teaching literacy instruction to future teachers.
Mem Fox shares an important life experience with two additional acclaimed children’s book authors which I believe offers unique insight into the minds and hearts of children and their ability to find common ground with others. Lois Lowery, author of Number the Stars, Katherine Paterson, author of Jacob Have I Loved and Mem Fox all spent significant portions of their formative years living in faraway lands. Mem shares details of her experiences growing up in Southern Rhodesia in her non-fiction books.
Others could be labeled as heavy, addressing the very real topics of death and disappointment in a way that is respectful of families’ feelings and is wholly appropriate for children. Parents may find these books to be helpful in sharing difficult emotional topics with children.
I found the perfect multicultural book to share with children right there in the Mem Fox section of my bookshelf.
“Their lives may be different from yours,
and their words my be very different from yours.
But inside, their hearts are just like yours,
whoever they are,
wherever they are,
all over the world.”
Mem Fox has a way with words. I am incredibly thankful that she has chosen to share her words with us in a way that we can in turn share them with our children.