I’ve known Ray almost 20 years and consider him a bon vivant (direct translation: “good” + “person who is living”). He’s informed me about excellent music, movies and social sciences. Today he recommends children’s books, and I’m glad to hear and check out any titles he shares. 

Connection to NB: I am a New Brunswicker from three generations back, born and raised in Saint John. I’ve lived in every part of the city, except for the west side. (Nothing against the west side; it’s a beauty.) Although I currently live along the Kennebecasis River, I spend most of my days working and living in Uptown Saint John.

Children: Ava (5 years old) & Nathan (2.5 years old)

What was your favourite book when you were a child?

world book encyclopediaI honestly don’t remember any favourite books from when I was child but I do remember reading the World Book Encyclopedia a lot. I had a routine: go to my parents’ tome-laden bookshelf, choose a letter (or four if you picked W -Z) and get reading. I think that ‘M’ was my absolute favourite. Maybe it was because this book was the biggest volume of them all and its weight was impressive, or maybe it was because I was captivated discovering and rediscovering ‘Madagascar,’ ‘mangoes’ and ‘mammiliforms.’ A world of knowledge was before me and I was its captive audience. Then came the Internet, which has the potential to enlighten so much more than those dusty encyclopedias from 1977, but now I seem to fill my days looking cute kittens.

What’s a favourite book that you read to Ava and Nathan?

My favourite book to read to the kids is Dr. Seuss’s Fox in Socks, subtitled “A Tongue Twister for Super Children,” and further subtitled (by me) “… and for regular children, too.” The great thing about this book is that it knows that it’s dangerous. In fact, it tells you as much as soon as you crack open the cover. There is also a caution to “take it slowly” and I suggest that you do the first time through so that your children don’t think less of you.

The story centres around two characters – Fox and Knox – whom I think represent both the parent and the child on their reading journey together. Fox is wordier and a bit of a show-off. Knox bumbles, looks kind of dopey, and is generally overwhelmed by Fox’s mastery of words. From scene to scene, Fox parades Knox through increasingly difficult rhyming encounters with socks and clocks, a sewing Sue, a Goo-Goose, pig bands and, finally, an epic battle between tweetle beetles. In the end, Fox gets his comeuppance and Knox is able to display that he has mastered some of what Fox has been showing off. Kind of like a kid learning to read except that the parent doesn’t end up in a bottle. You’ll just have to read this great book to figure out what the heck I’m talking about.

fox in socks

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The New Brunswick Public Library stocks these titles. Click a link to see if it’s available near you now. (You can also get most books shipped to your closest library, free of charge.)

Visit Ray on Twitter: @onwardseaward.

What Are Your Favourite Books for Kids? asks people with connections to New Brunswick about children’s books that became special in their lives.

Written by Peter Cullen

Peter Cullen loves to teach children. He specializes in literacy (elementary level) and has a lot of fun creating games and activities for class lessons. He also writes, manages social media accounts and announces roller derby games.

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