But honestly, I don’t remember most of the books I read as a child. I clearly remember choosing from the row of green-covered Mother West Wind books in our small town library,
and the three cheery, blond-haired, blue-eyed girls on the covers of the Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka stories I loved. When I began searching for books for my own children, though, I was mostly starting from scratch. One way I discover the books we love is by noting the author of a book we enjoy and finding out what else he or she wrote. Not rocket science, eh?
From the time my kids were itty-bitty, when we would sit down to look at a book, I would read the author’s name and the illustrator’s name aloud, right along with the title. “The Napping House, by Audrey Wood, illustrated by Don Wood.” This led to conversations such as, “Oh! Are they married? Let’s see…”We would turn to the back flap of the jacket and discover all sorts of interesting things about the people who gifted us with this lovely piece of art: What their dogs’ names are, or what odd assortment of jobs they’ve had, or that they live on an island in the Puget Sound.
Or a child might exclaim, “Oh! These are the same people that did King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub! I love that book! Do they have any more books?” And then we would go into the library catalog and search the author’s name or the illustrator’s name and find new treasures.
Even young children can learn to associate styles with particular illustrators, or with particular authors without you making a great fuss over it. If this is part of your regular story-reading routine, it just becomes a normal part of what they notice.
It’s a great way not only of teaching them how to discover good books for themselves, and how to research in the library (these guys can be quite adept at this at very young ages), but also to appreciate that a creative, interesting person lies behind each wonderful book they enjoy, and we can marvel over their work.