lessons for the little ones

For Christmas (yes, this post has been that long in the making) my son received a book from his grandparents titled “The Biggest House in the World” by Leo Lionni. It is a lovely story of snail folklore passed down to kin about a small snail who taught himself how to grow his house. He grew it and grew it until it was large and thorny and colorful and looked to the frogs more like a birthday cake than a snail house. But alas, when the cabbage that he was on was all eaten up and the other snails moved on, this snail withered away and so did his home, too large to move. The moral of the story was not lost on the snail in the book, who decided to keep his home small and mobile in order to enjoy all the wonders of the world around him.


I love the simple lesson in this story, and it started me thinking of other children’s books with a minimalist theme. Of course there is the classic Dr. Seuss book “The Lorax,” which we enjoy at our house, and his lesser known story of “The Sneetches,” who learn a similar lesson about the dangers and futility (as well as divisiveness) of greed and consumerism.

Another that we have checked out of the library numerous times since first reading it is John J. Muth’s Zen Shorts full of simple lessons taught to three siblings by a friendly, zen Panda.

One with a valuable lesson for parents came from my mother-in-law, who gave it to us as a shower gift because it was my husband’s absolute favorite book to read over and over as a child (which if you read it you might think that quite strange). “Not Now Bernard” by David McKee is about a little boy who’s distracted parents don’t seem to notice when he is eaten by a monster. In an ironic twist at the end, the monster (perhaps not surprisingly) becomes the child.

As I was putting together my list, I stumbled upon a list which is being compiled by the folks at the minimalist mom blog. Here are their suggestions which I have since requested from my library. I can’t wait to read them as they slowly trickle in. Check them out (hehe):

The quiltmaker’s gift by Jeff Brumbeau

10 little rubber ducks by Eric Carle

Extra yarn by Mac Barnett

The gift of nothing by Patrick McDonnell

Joseph had a little overcoat by Simms Taback

Just enough and not too much by Kaethe Zemach

The King of Capri by Jeanette Winterson

Little bird by Germano Zullo

More by I. C. Springman

Something from nothing by Phoebe Gilman

The table where rich people sit by Byrd Baylor 

The trouble with dragons by Debi Gliori

Yoko’s paper cranes by Rosemary Wells

The giving tree by Shel Silverstein

I love you, Blue Kangaroo! by Emma Chichester Clark

The Perfectly Orderly House by Ellen Kindt Mackenzie

Do you have any others to add?


2 thoughts on “lessons for the little ones

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