Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Friendly Attitude for Children

A Friendly Attitude for Children

     Happy times for me are when I am writing something that may be helpful to you. Once an idea gets in my head it doesn’t leave for a while. This time I am stuck on “attitude.” When it comes to books I am sensitive to the tone of the writing. Perhaps the tone is closely related an author’s attitude. I’m fond of pictures but tone is important to me.

     Together, my little grandson William and I were turning the pages of The Friendly Book. He likes looking at the pictures and I like its tone. The author Margaret Wise Brown wrote quiet and gentle stories. Perhaps you know her Little Fur Family, Goodnight Moon, or The Runaway Bunny. My guess is that there are adults all across America with fond childhood memories of these cozy stories.

    This unassuming picture book lends itself to a handful of uses for the home school.

     Firstly, The Friendly Book has verses that radiate a friendly attitude. It is probably the reason why I took to reading this book aloud to my young children repeatedly. “I Like Cars” is the first poem followed by “I Like Trains,” and “I Like Stars.” Margaret Wise Brown also likes snow, seeds, bugs, fish, dogs, boats, whistles, and best of all, people, and gives us a cheery verse of appreciation for each.

     Garth William’s drawings provide examples of all these active people and things. Few illustrators accomplish “cute” with pen, inch and paint, as well as he can. You probably know him best for illustrating Little House on the Prairie.

     Secondly, for children (in 1st or 2nd grade) who are learning to read, The Friendly Book becomes an “early reader.” Not all picture books make for early reading but this one does.

     Thirdly, I couldn’t help noticing something else about The Friendly Book. It is chock-full of easy-to-spot adjectives. At some point all children (3rd or 4th grade) are faced with learning to recognize adjectives. Generally prose is better than poetry for teaching grammar but because of the simplicity of these short-and-sweet verses I offer this suggestion. When you reach Lesson Four in Simply Grammar, the first lesson on adjectives, The Friendly Book will come in handy. Other unassuming picture books could be resting on your shelf that could aid in spotting adjectives, or nouns, or verbs.

     Fourthly, how can I resist this? “Today, children (range of ages) with Margaret Wise Brown’s verses in mind, we are all going to write a short poem about something (or someone) we like.” “All” means mother, too.

What would you write?


  1. We love Margaret Wise Brown in our family--her "Big Red Barn" is our favorite, as we have a big gray barn of our own. I hadn't heard of The Friendly Book before; thank you for the tips and review. I'll keep my eye out for it!

    I've read all of your books and am so delighted to find your blog here!


  2. Dear Karen,
    Thank you for the inspiration in your blog. I am still very new to Charlotte Mason's teachings and I love it when you offer help in book selections. I have three children learning to read and it is challenging for me. I think The Friendly Book will be a wonderful book for my children to enjoy.

    Thank you,

  3. I like this. I haven't seen this book, but we loved Runaway Bunny.