Monday, January 31, 2011

Noses are Houses for Boogers

The title of this post was uttered by my three-year-old after reading Mary Ann Hoberman's A House Is a House for Me.  This rollicking plotless rhyme is a litany of things which are containers for other things, both literally (e.g. "a hive is a house for a bee" and, more interestingly, "barrels are houses for pickles") and figuratively ("A book is a house for a story/A rose is a house for a smell/My head is a house for a secret/A secret I never will tell").  I love Hoberman's use of language, such as when she uses farfetch as as a verb ("perhaps I have started farfetching...")  But the best thing about this book are the ideas it inspires.  As the text itself says, "once you get started in thinking this way/It seems that whatever you see/Is either a house or it lives in a house.."  Kids love to start thinking of "houses" and their inhabitants.  My only complaint is that, for me, the illustrations are actually too detailed, almost distracting.  

Another book that has proved a source of inspiration for my kids is Chrysanthemum by the prolific and consistently excellent Kevin Henkes.  In Chrysanthemum, the eponymous title character loves her unique name until she starts school and is teased for it.  Upon reading this book for the first time several years ago, my older daughter and I discussed different flower names: Violet, Rose, Iris, Petunia, etc.  Why, my daughter wanted to know, was nobody named Tulip?  Well, now when she and her sister play pretend games, one of them is Tulip and the other is Daisy.  If I am co-opted into the game, I am Magnolia! 

Finally, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst provided not only the name of this blog, but for a while prompted my daughter to skip 16 - on purpose - when she was counting to 20.  She was imitating Alexander, who, when his teacher criticizes him for doing the same, says, "Who needs 16?"

What books have inspired you and your kids?


  1. Ha, Ha! Three year-olds say the best things. My 6 year old son is actually more inspired by non-fiction books. He loves to "read about facts" as he says. Frequently, after he has read some non-fiction book or other he will sit down and write down facts or organize his new knowledge by category. He still loves stories but they don't usually inspire him to further action.

  2. We loved Tuesday, the almost wordless book about flying frogs. And my son loved both Chrysanthemum and Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, both about kids with long names. His full name has 31 letters, so he could emphasize.

    And his middle name was a flower.

  3. Thanks for sharing your post at TCB. :)

  4. Wonderful post! THe title is priceless! haha! Oh three year olds are the very very best. AND yes- my kiddos were coming up with all sorts of houses for houses for houses.

    you know, what we're reading is always influencing play and whatnot in our house. BUT I most consistently see it come through in their artwork. I love it!