Having children is like a magnifying glass. It is the catalyst for us to slow down, to enjoy the simple things in life. Suddenly, we find ourselves seeing the fluttering butterfly as we never did before. Growing our own gardens becomes a top priority, even if the weeds seem overwhelming. We suddenly become acutely aware of the air we breathe. But we still need stories and guides to reinforce the ideas. Here are some of our favorites from the past that we are once again returning to and a few new titles for a bit of further inspiration.
The Henry Series by D.B. Johnson
With five books in the series, you can't go wrong introducing your children to the loveable bear Henry, a character based on the naturalist Henry David Thoreau.
Here are our three favorites in the series:
Henry Hikes to Fitchburg, where Henry takes a long walk instead of a train trip to get to Fitchburg. Along the way he meets friends, eats berries, measures things, and simply connects with his day and the world around him.
Henry Builds a Cabin, where Henry builds the perfect-for-him home, a beautiful simple living tale.
Henry's Night, in which Henry connects with the simple wonders of the night: fireflies, moonlight, and the North Star.
Favorites By Byrd Baylor:
If there was or is ever a book that brings us back to the savoring of the simple things that give us pleasure, it is the incomparable tale The Table Where Rich People Sit by Byrd Baylor. It is the story of a family and their conversation that takes place over their very worn out family table. The story begins, "If you could see us sitting here at our old, scratched-up, homemade kitchen table, you'd know that we aren't rich. But my father is trying to tell us we are." This family meeting is perhaps one of the best! Our young heroine is upset by her worn out shoes, the car her family drives, and she's convinced that this is not the kind of table where rich people would sit. That is, until the meeting is well under way. While listing out the family's "wealth", she comes to understand what her parents are talking about when her mother says, "We don't just take our pay in cash, you know. We have a special plan so we get paid in sunsets, too, and in having time to hike around the canyons and look for eagle nests." This is a story about wealth - the wealth of a family; it is one of our family staples. Don't miss it!
And this isn't just a one hit wonder for Byrd Baylor. She is a master at weaving a tale that focuses on the simple treasures of the everyday. Our other favorite books of hers are
Everybody Needs a Rock in which the reader is invited to find a rock, a special rock for just him or herself, and the ‘rules' needed to find and keep such a stone; and,
I'm in Charge of Celebrations, a delightful story that challenges the reader to make each day special by celebrating the simple things in life.
Simple Living Resources for Adults
If you are looking for some adult reassurance or inspiration about choosing a life that honors the simple, take a peek at these resources:
Walden: or Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau
The Story of Stuff
Still need a little more inspiration to live simply? Well, check out The Story of Stuff, "a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever."
Ginger Carlson, MA Ed, is a speaker, education consultant, and the author of Child of Wonder: Nurturing Creative and Naturally Curious Children. She leads creativity-building workshops throughout the US for parents and educators. Please visit her at http://www.gingercarlson.com to learn more, see her blogs about living creatively and cooking with children, or sign up for Wonderwise, her free email newsletter.
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