Diving into the Classics


I peek into the library bag at the mix of books we chose to check out today. The library’s entire collection of Llama Llama books. LMNO Peas. Blueberries for Sal. Make Way for Ducklings. And, for good measure? A few Paw Patrol books as well.

It’s a mix of old and new. Classic and modern. Books I encountered as a child, and ones I only know because I have a child. Anna Dewdney’s books are among our favorites, and I’m slowly trying to acquire all of them. We check out all of the ones we don’t own every time we go to the library.

We also choose the classics like Blueberries for Sal as often as we choose modern books. I love that the classic picture books are timeless with rich syntax, beautiful illustrations, and story lines that prompt questions in new ways.

This week, we’re also diving into Caps for Sale, The Snowy Day, and Mike Mulligan’s Steam Shovel. Each of these books was a gift that we treasure, reading over and over again - nearly as much as we read our books that rhyme.

When we open Caps for Sale, Oscar grins. “Why is he wearing so many hats, Mama? That’s so SILLY!” We giggle together at how tall the stack of caps is atop the peddler’s head.

As we read, we talk about what wares are, what a peddler is, and if we, too, could wear that many hats atop our head. For fun, I pull out our collection of baseball caps and we sit, stacking them on top of our heads until we can stack them no more.

“Oh no!” Oscar cries as the hats tumble from our heads to the floor. “They fell down!” His laughter is contagious when we pile the hats on our heads again and again.

Soon, we move on from this activity, piling the hats back into the closet and opening our next book, all about Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel. This is a book I’d not read before and it’s become a new favorite of ours!

I love this book, espeically since Oscar started learning about the various kinds of construction trucks. He likes to tell me the differences between excavators, bulldozers, and wheel loaders - trucks I now know more about than I ever thought I would.

As we read, turning the page, we talk about how a steam shovel is both similar to and different from an excavator.

“It has a scooper! Just like an ex-ca-bator!” he cries as we read about the steam shovel digging foundations for buildings and helping construct mazes of highways. “We see ex-ca-bators when we go to school!”

I grin at his enthusiasm. By the time we’ve finished our books for the day, we’ve begun talking about construction equipment and what it’s used for. Before I can pull out any more books, Oscar pulls out his excavator, bulldozer, and dump truck and starts playing. He talks about how fast he can dig and asks me if he can make his excavator into a steam shovel. I smile and tell him yes, loving to see his imagination at work. Our classic books are as well-loved as our newer modern favorites, and foster just as much creativity as we walk through our day.

Rather than set the classics apart from our other books, I mix them in, adding them to the joy of our every day reading time. When I sit down to read tonight, I’ll also open my own classic novel and dive deep into a complex world of characters written long ago.