One thing moms and grandmas usually agree about is the importance of introducing children to books. The best way to stimulate a love for reading in a child is to share a good book with her.
A good illustrator adds to the pleasure and fun of a book; often small children “get” the illustrations even before they understand the words of a book.
One of my favorite illustrators is Mary Whyte. A painter from South Carolina, Whyte has illustrated Constance W. McGeorge's series about a lovable dog named Boomer, among other children's books. Her illustrations advance the story and add visual details that make each image feel familiar, as if you could walk into the story and inhabit it.
In Boomer's Big Day, Boomer's family is moving. Whyte shows Boomer, crammed into the family van under boxes and lamps. Using soft colors and careful detail, her illustrations of the difficulty Boomer has figuring out the new back yard, and his happiness when he finds his dinner bowl, his bed, even his old green tennis ball in the new house invite the reader to imagine what it's like to move even as Boomer explores his new situation.
The other Boomer books – Boomer Goes To School and Boomer's Big Surprise – are equally fun as Boomer romps his way through days filled with surprises and fun. The cover illustration of Boomer Goes To School, with Boomer on the school bus, ears flying as he leans out the window, will delight any child – and the person reading to her.
And the expression on Boomer's face when Baby finds Boomer's favorite old green tennis ball in Boomer's Big Surprise might remind you of the expression on the face of any child who has to make room in her life for a baby.
You should be able to find the Boomer books at your local library, through an on-line bookseller, or at your local bookstore. Curl up with someone you love, and read!