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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

Making memories

December 21, 2009

Today is the first official day of winter but on the last weekend of autumn, we got a foot (plus) of snow. It's beautiful and (beyond havoc) creates a picture perfect background for the winter holidays.

I was reminded of the season of giving when I read a recent picture book by Jan Fearnley entitled Milo Armadillo (Candlewick).

In it, a little girl named Tallulah wants a pink fluffy rabbit for her birthday. Since one cannot be found, Tallulah's grandmother knits one for her. And in spite of her valiant effort, Grandma ends up making a cute, pink, fluffy armadillo that she names Milo. Not unexpectedly, Tallulah's initial disappointment turns to missing Milo when he tries to return to Grandma.

I thought of how hard adults try to please children and the difference between what a child's vision of what they want is and the reality of the gift. I remembered my own son when he was picture book age. He remembered then and still remembers not the gifts he received but the time we shared playing and reading together.

One of our holiday traditions was (and remains) reading favorite stories — including Clement Moores' A Visit from Saint Nicholas, also known as The Night Before Christmas.

There's a newer edition that delights readers of all ages — with delicate paper cutouts by Niroot Puttapipat that pop up to create magic around the familiar poem. While it wouldn't hold up to a young child's rough hands, any illustrated version of this poem as well as many others are wonderful to start a family tradition of reading and sharing on cold, snowy winter nights.

And my guess is that the memories made will last longer than any toy given.

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