Books share life lessons
Encourage personal growth through inspiring stories
There is no such thing as a perfect life. Young and old alike face hardships, frustration, difficult decisions, embarrassment, sorrow. What we learn from those experiences helps us to grow. We also grow by observing others — what they do or fail to do when faced with hardship.
Books can play an active role in this pursuit, such as those reviewed today. Take a look below, visit this column's companion website for additional recommendations at greatestbooksforkids.com and ask your librarian to direct you to others. Your efforts to help children grow will make a big difference in their lives, today and for years to come.
Books to Borrow
The following book is available at many public libraries.
"Dear Willie Rudd" by Libba Moore Gray, illustrated by Peter M. Fiore, Simon & Schuster, 32 pages
Read aloud: age 6 — 7 and older
Read yourself: age 8 and older
Miss Elizabeth was troubled. She kept remembering Willie Rudd — the wonderful black woman who had helped raise her. There were so many things Miss Elizabeth wished she could say to Willie Rudd. Fifty years had gone by, yet the memories were fresh as yesterday. And even though Willie Rudd had long since passed away, Miss Elizabeth went inside, sat down and wrote her a long letter.
In her letter, Miss Elizabeth told Willie Rudd how sorry she was for all the things that must have hurt Willie Rudd over the years, things like not being able to eat together or sit next to one another in the movies or on the bus. Miss Elizabeth gently assured Willie Rudd that if only they could be together again, how very different things would be. She concluded her letter with an important note that she had forgotten to tell Willie Rudd years ago, then sent it to her the best way she knew how.
A poignant, loving testimony of trying to right the wrongs of the past, this exceptionally well written and beautifully illustrated book also serves as a tribute to women everywhere who have nurtured and raised the children of others and treated them as their own.
Library: Gridley Branch, Butte County Library, 299 Spruce St., Gridley
Library Director: Linda Mielke
Branch Librarian: Cynthia Pustejovsky
Children's Services: Christy Cooke-Williford
Choices this week: "Ladybug Girl" by David Soman; "Because of Winn-Dixie" by Kate DiCamillo; "Across Five Aprils" by Irene Hunt
Books to Buy
The following books are available at your favorite bookstores.
"I Have Two Homes" by Marian De Smet, illustrated by Nynke Talsma, Clavis, 2012, 28 pages, $15.95 hardcover
Read aloud: age 3 — 4 and older
Read yourself: age 7 and older
A young girl named Nina narrates her story of the events that eventually led to her parents' divorce and how it affected her. Nina describes how many things are different in her life now that she has a home with her mom and a home with her dad.
Before, her family was happy. But then her parents began fighting and divorced, and during those times, Nina sometimes felt left out and lonely. But Nina still knows she is loved by both of her parents. "Mom and Dad aren't happy with each other anymore. But I know they are very happy with me."
A tender, honest and reassuring story for children about divorce, "I Have Two Homes" excels in every regard.
"The Moon Over High Street" by Natalie Babbitt, Michael Di Capua Books/Scholastic, 2012, 148 pages, $15.95 hardcover
Read aloud: age 8 — 9 and older
Read yourself: age 9 — 10 and older
Joe has lived with his grandmother all of his life, and the two get along very well. When Gran breaks her hip, Joe thinks their summer trip to Midville to visit Aunt Myra will be canceled. That would be fine with Joe because he doesn't really know his aunt. But Gran insists Joe go alone, and she will join him when she can travel.
Joe isn't very enthusiastic about the idea, but to his surprise, he and Aunt Myra are a lot alike. To his further surprise, he becomes good friends with a neighbor girl. But nothing can prepare Joe for the surprise that Midville millionaire, Mr. Boulderwall, proposes. Now Joe is faced with the biggest decision of his life.
A cast of colorful, believable characters and a story that makes clear what's most important in life, Natalie Babbitt has once again written a flawless story that will long be remembered.
Kendal A. Rautzhan writes and lectures about children's literature. She can be reached at her website: greatestbooksforkids.com.