Tag Archives: love

Patrick McDonnell’s Books Teach Love and Kindness

by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

How about starting the New Year off with more love and kindness? Treat your family to some books by award winning author and illustrator Patrick McDonnell. His stories show the many ways we can cultivate kindness toward one another and accept others for who they are, especially if different from us. McDonnell’s picture books are written for young children, but his stories touch on big life messages that will resonate with adults.

McDonnell is widely known for his comic strip “MUTTS” that premiered in 1994 and stars a cat named Mooch and a dog named Earl (coincidently McDonnell’s real dog’s name). One of the author’s passions is in helping facilitate pet ownership and kindness toward animals. 5% of all sales of printouts of his comic strips (www.mutts.com) go to The Humane Society of the United States’ Animal Rescue Team.

McDonnell’s work is strongly influenced by George Herriman’s “Krazy Kat” comic strip (1913-1944, New York Evening Journal). He uses the same bulbous noses, black eyes with no whites of the eyes showing, and loosely rendered black ink lines to define his characters. He does everything without computer technology and hand paints each image with watercolor. In the style of Harriman he also uses tender-hearted colloquial dialog between characters. “Yesh!” says Mooch, quite often.

But an even bigger influence on his artwork was Charles Schulz, creator of the Peanuts comics, and a mentor to McDonnell. Schulz was also profoundly influenced by Harriman, the defining comic strip artist in his time. Learning from Harriman, Schulz added depth of meaning and personal feeling into his “cute” characters and passed the value of incorporating sentiment into comics, on to McDonnell.

In 2005, McDonnell broke into the children’s book world with the book “The Little Gift of Nothing” about the significance of giving your presence and companionship to someone instead of a physical gift. Since then he has written and illustrated 12 children’s books and collaborated with Eckhart Tolle (author of “The Power of Now”) on a book for adults, “Guardians of Our Being, Spiritual Teachings from Our Dogs and Cats.”

Here are some favorite Patrick McDonnell books to read with your young children. Talk about what happens in each story and see if love and kindness grow this year!

  • “Hug Time.” Little orange-striped kitten Jules is so filled with love that he wants to hug the whole world. Jules makes a Hug-To-Do List and visits places around the earth, hugging many endangered species and getting many hugs in return.
  • “Wag!” “Fwip, fwip, fwip!” wags Earl’s tail. Mooch wants to know what makes Earl’s tail wag. After much observation, Mooch finds out. It’s love!
  • “Thank You and Good Night.” How many fun things can you do at a pajama party? These 3 friends have an evening packed with togetherness. They stage a funny-face contest, learn a chicken dance, play hide-and-seek, practice yoga, eat, watch for shooting stars—and they are thankful for it all.
  • “Art.” Art is a boy and art is a thing to do. McDonnell uses this homonym pair to play with the idea that unbridled creation in squiggles, wiggles, and zigzags can be a person’s identity. Can you tell Art and art apart?
  • “The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC’s (the hard way)” Great for a child who already knows his or her alphabet, this wordless book is a continuously flowing story that needs the reader to identify what word is represented in each illustration of the alphabet. Here’s the trailer for the book on Youtube.
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Filed under alphabet book, art, author spotlight, creativity, empathy, Feelings, kindness, love, opportunities for conversation, wordless picturebooks

Words of Love

There are few words you can say to your child that are more important than simply saying, “I love you.” With these three words you can bring a smile to a face, warmth to a heart, and joy to your child. Saying “I love you” gives you a chance to change the course of an entire day, and the power to imprint love and security in your child’s heart forever!

Saying “I love you,” or other words that show you care, gives your children the confidence and strong self-esteem that is the foundation of good emotional health. They will learn how to ask for what they need, express how they feel, and respond to others with compassion. You can give your children positive words in your everyday family life by talking, writing, and reading. Here are some ideas to try at home:

Talk. There are so many words that say, “I love you.” Hearing these nurturing words lets your children know that they are important, they are cared for, and they are loved. When said with a snuggle or a hug, these words mean even more! You can say: I am so happy you are _____ (my son/ my daughter/ part of our family)! • I love to watch you _______ (play, draw, hear you sing, see you run, etc.) • You are so smart in so many ways. • It is okay to make mistakes. • I know you can do it! You did it! I love how you did that! • There is no one like you in the whole world! • You make me smile.

Write. “I love you” messages can bring happiness to your child over and over again when you write them down. • Tuck an “I love you” note under your child’s pillow. • Pin one to a backpack. • Write a message with soap on the mirror. • Keep a jar of “I love you” messages to use any time. • Make mailboxes out of empty cereal boxes for each person in your family to send messages back and forth. • Help your child write down an “I love you” message to a friend or loved one.

BookHeart

Read. Snuggle up with your child and read one of these picture books about love and kindness and talk about what happens in the story. • “How Kind!” by Mary Murphy • “Guess How Much I Love You” by Sam McBratney • “I Love You Little One” by Nancy Tafuri • “All Together Now” by Anita Jeram • “I’ll Always Love You” by Paeony Lewis • “Because of You” by B.G. Hennesy.

Giving your child words of love has a huge impact. In the words of Peggy O’Mara, “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” For more ideas, download a Words of Love bookmark at www.familyreading.org.

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I Love You!

KoalaLouEvery child needs to hear the words “I love you!” To know from the earliest age that you are unconditionally accepted and that someone is taking care of you, that someone loves you, gives you the confidence to learn and grow. Love is the foundation for a child to build a healthy self-esteem and feel like the world is waiting to be explored and enjoyed.

Tell your children “I love you” and teach your children to say “I love you” too, so that it is a natural part of the way your children express their gratitude for the other people in their life. If you need ideas on how to say to say you care, read some children’s books to find the words.

“I’ll Always Love You” by Paeony Lewis, illustrated by Penny Ives. Alex’s mom assures him that she will love him no matter what, but Alex is worried when he accidently breaks her favorite bowl. Will his mom still love him now? Gentle text shows the unconditional love of a mother for her child. This is a very reassuring story for young children with softly sweet illustrations.

“How Kind!” by Mary Murphy. The animals on the farm prove that one good turn deserves another as each of them does something kind for the next animal, proving that “what goes around, comes around.” Young children will understand the idea that sometimes love is expressed as kindness to others.

“The Story of Ferdinand” by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson. This may not immediately come to mind as a love story, but the main character, Ferdinand the bull, has a very loving mother! The message of this classic tale is “accept yourself for just who you are.” Ferdinand was not like the other bulls in the pasture. He was peaceful and quiet as a young bull and then also as a large, full-grown bull. His mother, a cow with a big bell strapped to her neck, was completely understanding of Ferdinand being happiest when alone smelling the flowers, which helped Ferdinand feel fine about being different than the other bulls. What a nice mom!

“Koala Lou” by Mem Fox, illustrated by Pamela Lofts. Being the first born in the family, Koala Lou was used to getting lots of attention and hearing her mother tell her “Koala Lou, I DO love you,” every day. After her brothers and sisters were born, Koala Lou’s mom was too busy to say “I love you” any more. Koala Lou started feeling unloved and concocted an elaborate scheme so her mother would say those words to her again. In the end, as we would hope, Koala Lou finds out that her mother DOES love her, no matter what!

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Filed under children's books, family reading