We humans seem to need stories. Indeed, we live by them. We consume endless numbers of stories through books and news media, plays, movies, television, blogs, the snippets of social media, and through conversation. We are always hungry for another story, any story will do, as long as it’s well told.
Our children love stories even more than we do. They’ll take a story from just about anyone (even a tired mom on the way to school), but they positively worship a good storyteller.
Luckily, many of these truly spellbinding storytellers reside upon our children’s very own bookshelves. Today, we sing the praises of three of our favorite picture book storytellers; tomorrow, we’ll turn to chapter books; and on Friday, movies!
To start, Kevin Henkes. We can always count on Henkes for a wonderful story. His mouse characters Lily, Wemberly, Owen, and Chrysanthemum, dramatize the dilemmas and challenges of early childhood. What’s it like to have a really unusual name? What happens when your favorite teacher reprimands you in class? How can you get over being worried about school? Henkes answers these questions with story after story that comfort and captivate at the same time. It seems he can do no story wrong.
Tomie dePaola is another storyteller we would follow anywhere. With more than 200 books to his credit, he has told stories of all stripes. His signature illustration style has brought life and appeal to nursery rhymes as well as Bible stories. And his original tales, such as the Strega Nona stories, are one of a kind and spellbinding. Who else could make the life story of an Italian witch and healer come so alive? Whatever the subject, we know that Tomie dePaola will do it proud.
And for our third pick, Paul O. Zelinsky. Whenever we hear that Mr. Zelinsky has a new book coming out, we feel the thrill of anticipation: a great new story is coming our way! Zelinsky is a master painter and illustrator who creates amazing, seamless worlds for his characters. His fairy tale interpretations are indispensible. They take children straight into the darkness, beauty and suspense of stories such as Rapunzel and Rumpelstiltskin. More recently, Zelinksy has taken on a frontier tale. In his hands, any story shines.
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