The Gift of Reading

One of my favourite family stories features my older sister, Taina. My parents have a vivid memory of her first Christmas, running back and forth between her room and the couch, bringing book after book to be read until the bookshelf was empty. She has an insatiable appetite for books to this day.

When I had kids of my own, story time became of great importance. Recently we recognized that we spend substantially less time reading to our youngest, as she is routinely whisked off to bed before we sit down with our eldest. So, we have made an effort to not only read more to our youngest, but to also have family story time. Here are three books that regularly make an appearance.  

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
I loved this book from the get go, it had all of our attention. Rosie is a young girl who may seem elusive in class but spends her evenings behind closed doors letting her imagination and creativity run wild. When she sees a problem, she works on a solution until she is laughed at for one of her creations and decides to bury this side of herself. This new way of living has Rosie down, until her great-great-aunt Rose (Rose the Riveter) comes to visit and has her more excited than ever to give a new invention a go. Rosie is once again embarrassed and frustrated when she deems her newest contraption a failure, but she learns with the help of her aunt that you can only truly fail if you give up. 

At first, Rosie Revere, Engineer seems like an empowering book for young girls. But it is more a book about the importance of failing and how, oftentimes, failing can bring you closer to reaching your goal and appreciating every step along the way. We should all appreciate quality books with strong female leads that relay such a great message.

The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton
Oh, this book makes us laugh. Every. Time. It features Princess Pinecone, who is from a Kingdom of Warriors. Her birthday is coming up and she makes sure her parents know that instead of the usual gift of a cozy sweater, she would like something powerful, to help her feel and look more like a warrior. A real warrior’s horse. What does she receive instead? A roly-poly pony, who is better at eating the curtains in her room and farting, than performing any of the training Pinecone provides.

The day of a great battle arrives, and they walk into to a gruelling fight and before they really get a chance to get into it, one by one the warriors are taken down by the cuteness of the pony. They are happy for the break, admitting that they aren’t often allowed to show their soft sides. Pinecone knows just what to do to help their predicament – give them all cozy sweaters, of course!

I have to admit, I have shied away from most titles that include the word “princess” but The Princess and the Pony (and the Paper Bag Princess) has taught me that I should not judge a book by its cover, just as Pinecone realized that it doesn’t necessarily take physical strength, the right accessories and being larger than life to be a warrior (hero). Being a hero can mean having strength of heart. It can mean having compassion. And those are things you can have, whether you are small and cute or large and fierce.

In My Heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek
This book is so beautiful. While my youngest enjoys the illustrations, fingering the heart-shaped die-cuts, and the way the words flow as we read, my oldest is curious and asks questions or shares an experience when her heart felt a certain way. “My heart is like a house, with all these feelings living inside,” the narrator, a young girl, explains. As you turn the pages, you are confronted with the emotions of happiness, sadness, bravery, fear and anger. You recall what it’s like to have a silly, broken or heavy heart.

We feel on a regular basis, and rarely do we sit back to think about what we are feeling and why. But, we at least have the capability to decipher the world of feelings. Young children feel so strongly, and have such a difficult time relaying what they are going through. In My Heart has been helpful for our family, as it has made the conversation of feelings and emotions an open and loving one.

It’s interesting; looking back at these choices, I realize that my sister Taina purchased two of these titles, and was with me while purchasing the third. Her passion for reading has always inspired me and now it’s extending to my family. I hope you too are inspired to give the gift of books and reading together this Christmas and into the New Year. Happy holidays!

Visit Polar Peak Books or visit the Fernie Heritage Library for your reading needs. They will also order titles in. We are lucky to have these resources, let’s keep using them!