One of my all-time favorite childhood books is Gyo Fujikawa’s “Oh, What A Busy Day!” What I found most magical about it as a child was observing all the ideas those kids pursued — without a single supervising adult.
As recently shared on the LetGrow site,
“Once upon a time, kids were part of the world. They were allowed to go places, do things, meet people. They were active.
For “active” now substitute “activities.” Kids participate in activities created for them, not by them. We take them, show them, teach them, protect them in a way that most of us — given the choice — would have rejected in favor of adventure.”
To me, this comes down to a major break-down of trust and community. Driven by our fears of all that might happen if we don’t do what is described above, we teach our kids that no one — not even our kids themselves — are worthy of trust.
That’s why I adore the following picture books. May they inspire you and your children to cultivate greater trust & recapture the magic of childhoods filled with healthy independence & adventure.
#1: Oh, What A Busy Day! by Gyo Fujikawa
Published in 1976, this picture book was ahead of its time with regards to diversity. It takes children through the possibilities of every facet of childhood, from make-believe, to fighting with friends, to enjoying the different seasons. I literally spent years trying to recall the author or title before I finally stumbled across our original beloved copy at my parents’ house — I immediately bought a reprint. Her own words describing how she felt about her audience sum up her beautiful work:
“In illustrating for children, what I relish most is trying to satisfy the constant question in the back of my mind–will this picture capture a child’s imagination? What can I do to enhance it further? Does it help to tell a story? I am far from being successful (whatever that means), but I am ever so grateful to small readers who find ‘something’ in any book of mine.”
#2: Everything You Need for a Treehouse by Carter Higgins & Emily Hughes
This lovely read came from Colby Sharp’s recommendation. I loved it so much that I bought it for my daughter’s birthday book as it reminded me of her sense of adventure & creativity. Kids are shown the many dreamy ways they can enjoy treehouse goodness — even if they are still waiting on a tree.
#3: Windows by Julia Denos & E.B. Goodale
Go for an evening walk with a young boy as he learns about his neighborhood through his own quiet observations. I love the way this captures how much kids can notice about their communities when given the chance.
#4: Bertolt by Jacques Goldstyn
A book that will speak to the introvert’s soul. A child loves spending time with his tree, Bertolt, more than anything else in the world. His quiet observations and problem-solving will win over the hearts of all that love to get some alone-time.
#5: Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran & Barbara Cooney
My friend Faige Meller first introduced me to Roxaboxen, and it has been a family favorite ever since! The Goodreads reviews are packed with nostalgia, but I think it’s important to note that kids haven’t stopped being capable of creating such a retreat. We as adults need to just get out of their way more often to let them make it happen. “Roxaboxen is always waiting. Roxaboxen is always there.”
#6: Raft by Jim LaMarche
A story filled with appreciation and self-discovery. Kids will love following Nicky through the woods as he comes to love a summer of solitude at his grandmother’s house.
What about you? What are your favorite reads that promote the independent and magical childhoods we are all nostalgic for (and that we can again support)!
featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto