March has us thinking about all that blossoms out of springtime: growth, newness, and even baby animals! Chicks, ducklings and bunnies can often represent the new life of spring, while the Easter Bunny is busy hopping between his annual appearances. These three recommendations will help you and your little ones get your seasonal animal fix, with some developmental lessons cloaked underneath all the cute-ness.
by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Loren Long (HarperCollins $18.99) Age 2-5
Using the signature word pattern from the classic Goodnight Moon, this previously unpublished book by the same author expands on this concept by adding exuberant greetings to the entire cycle of a day. When the sun comes up and the day begins, the little bunny says “good day” to all the familiar things outside—to the birds in the skies and the bees in their hives, to everything one by one. And as the sun starts to set, it’s time for the little bunny to say goodnight. Goodnight, kitty. Goodnight, bear. Goodnight, people everywhere. Readers will take comfort in the reassuring world of the little bunny and delight at the attention to detail and hidden surprises on every page.
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld (Chronicle $16.99) Age 3-7
Appealing to adults who love those optical illusion images that portray two different things depending on where you focus (is it a goblet, or two faces? A young woman, or wrinkled hag?), this kid-friendly version presents a duck-rabbit conundrum that’s a fresh cognitive exercise for young minds.
The drawings are bright and simple, as is the central argument. Is it a duck or a rabbit? Watch your youngster wrap their head around the concept that it’s the same drawing…you can almost hear their mental synapses firing. Though it’s a quick read, it’s a stimulating one—and every child will want to be the first to introduce the “trick” to their unsuspecting friends.
by Cori Doerrfeld (Dial $17.99) Age 2-6
Using sweetly soft and unthreatening illustrations—not to mention a series of appealing animal characters—this picture book presents the difficult concepts of grief and empathy in a way that is appropriate and digestible for very small children.
Little Taylor has poured his heart into building a very special castle of wooden blocks, and is devastated when the structure is destroyed (by a flock of crows). All of his animal friends enter the scene (standing in for various modes of well-meaning adults): the chick who wants little Taylor to talk it out, the elephant who tries to fix the irreparable mess, and the snake who suggests he express frustration by vandalizing someone else’s block castle. It isn’t until the rabbit hops over, huddling close and listening quietly, that Taylor can cope with what’s taken place, and respond to the warmth of simple empathy.
In a world where we cannot always shield our kids from bad things happening, it’s helpful to develop language for grief and recovery. This timely book serves as a device to support our children as they explore talking about complex emotions.