Few things get families closer than reading stories together. In an age where electronic screens get more face time than family dinners, these simple stories are a refreshing throw-back to life unplugged.
Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel is a love letter to a tree. But not just any tree. Steve the tree has seen the family through cook-outs, floods, snowstorms, games of tag, and other seemingly unimportant daily events. David Catrow’s illustrations are whimsical and detailed (look for the “face” on Steve’s trunk in some of the pictures). His pictures capture perfectly the sentiments behind the few printed words to bring to life an inanimate part of the yard. By the end, you’ll forget you’re reading about a tree, and not a real person. Our Tree Named Steve is a quiet celebration of what makes a family.
John Rocco’s Blackout tells the story of a blackout in a big city on a summer night. Mom’s computer work is interrupted. Dad’s cooking is put on hold. Sister’s phone conversation ends suddenly. And brother’s video game stops abruptly. In fact, the entire neighborhood goes quiet. At first. And then, it comes alive with people interacting with each other. In a handful of sentences and colorful illustrations, this Caldecott Honor book manages to show how much can happen when the lights go out.
If life is what happens when you’re not paying attention, then these books are a great reminder to slow down and focus on the now.