I grew up with books. My mother read to me and I had exposure to lots of books around the house, and stacks of them from the library. I learned to read very early, somewhere between ages 3 and 4, I think. As a grown-up, I still adore picture books. I love reading them to children and I also read them myself.
So I was pleasantly surprised to spot one that felt so familiar on the shelves of our public library. I'm sure it was read to me as a child. I checked it out lovingly, and could hardly wait to dive into the pages again.
Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey, was first published in 1941 and won the Caldecott Medal as the most distinguished American picture book for children in 1942. It tells the story of a family of ducks who are trying to make it to the Public Garden, only to encounter traffic problems along the way.
Set in Boston, this book, which has sold over two million copies, still spoke to me as I re-read it again today. Of course I remembered the kindly policeman, who sends in a traffic alert for patrol cars to stop traffic so that Mother Duck can safely get her babies across the street.
Did this early story seep into my consciousness and make me a kinder, gentler person today?
I like to imagine that one of my best traits in life is kindness to animals. Was I inspired as a young child by the art and the words of Robert McCloskey?
Could this be why I stopped my car on the road just last week, so a family of fourteen wild turkeys could cross the road safely?
What do you think? Can kindness by learned from books? Does it seep in unconsciously from the literature young people are exposed to?
Do you have a favorite children's book that might have influenced your life?
This is a totally un-scientific study, but let us know!