Life’s most profound lessons are often contained within the colorful pages of children’s literature. One of my favorite examples of this is Dr. Seuss’ Oh, The Places You’ll Go!, in which he reminds his readers “you’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you’re the one who’ll decide where to go.”
In a similar vein, the fox from The Little Prince advises his young friend “one sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye,” and Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree highlights the beauty of wholly unselfish, sacrificial love.
What truly sets a children’s book apart, though, is artwork both simple enough to appeal to a pint-sized reader and profound enough to encourage their older counterpart to keep the book open long after Junior has gone to bed.
While thoughts of having my own children are still faaaaar away on the horizon, the inner (read: blatant) Design Nerd in me has been known to linger in the Kids’ section of bookstores, slowly turning those glossy, oversized pages in awe. So much inspiration can be taken from these whimsical combinations of illustration and typography; when well done, they evoke emotion and linger in my mind for later appreciation. And after all, aren’t those results the main goals of commercial art?
If you share my unabashed love of the Kids’ section and an enthusiasm for good kerning, take a look at the literature below. I promise you’ll want to read these books to your son, daughter, niece or nephew—or heck, just to yourself—over and over again.
The Decemberists’ frontman has always been known for his literary tendencies, though he’s expressed them mainly through song in the past. Meloy has now teamed up with his wife to create a story about a young heroine named Prue, who heads out on an adventure into the Oregon wilderness to save her younger brother after he is carried off by a murder of crows.
This Melbourne-based artist and author’s book is a collection of 15 vignettes. Each focuses on a fantastical event that occurs in an otherwise mundane suburban world, including a nut-sized foreign exchange student’s travels and a sea creature discovered in a neighbor’s front yard.
The real magic of Crane’s book about two children exploring their house lies within its chemistry. The thermal ink on each page changes color when rubbed, revealing illustrations otherwise hidden under an expanse of black. So cool!
What kids' books do you still adore past the days of animal crackers and apple juice?