when charley“Dear Grampa, We got a dog. His name is Charley. He sleeps in my room. He’s a fast runner like me, and he’s got the same last name as me. Korn.”

“Henry can’t wait for Grampa to meet his new puppy, Charley.

“When are you coming to see Charley? Bring a big suitcase and stay a long time …”

A storybook winner of 2013, parents and grandparents will delight to read aloud When Charlie Met Grampa. Author Amy Hest and Illustrator Helen Oxenbury crafted an enchanting story around a special moment between grandfather and grandson.

“Dear Henry, I’ll be there Sunday, and my train arrives at noon. My suitcase is big. Look for Grampa waving, that’s me. Now about that dog. Is he friendly or fierce?”

Henry and his adorable puppy set off for the station to meet Grampa. They trudge through swirling snow, pulling a sled for Grampa’s suitcase. Henry tells Charley all about his grandfather. But, his Grampa has never been friends with a dog before.

What will happen when Charley meets Grampa?

A hint? A gust of wind blows Grampa’s green cap and Charley knows just what to do. It’s Charley who saves the day.

Here’s a story about how a puppy can warm a hesitant heart. With stunning pencil-and-watercolor paintings, Oxenbury gently expresses the emotions of a boy and his Grampa as they bond with the bouncy puppy.

You’ll be smitten with the ending: all three comfy, cozy in Grampa’s bed.

“Charley looked in Grampa’s eyes and Grampa looked back, which is code for I love you. I love you. I love you.”

Playful Early Learning

  • Look at the cover and ask your child what she sees
  • Open to the title page and look for Grampa’s suitcase, a clue
  • As you read aloud, be sure to study the details of every picture
  • Look for splashes of color, like the boy’s red jacket
  • Whenever you see Charley, describe his face and how you think he feels
  • On the last page, imagine what the three friends will do the next day

father son playA playful daddy crouched low on hands and knees and growled. His four young children squealed, jumped up and down, and pounced. They were saving their dog from the jaws of a mountain lion. Of course, dad was the lion and the children were heroes. The patient dog lived to see another day.

Good old-fashioned horse-play is what dads do best. This spontaneous fun with pillows, couch cushions, and imagination is actually great for children’s self-esteem and physical development.

In fact, the more dads engage with their children overall, the more likely their children are to flourish. Stephanie Pappas reports in her article, Fatherhood: The Science of Dad, that dads make a big difference in the lives of their children. The father-child relationship is essential for a child’s sense of well-being, happiness, life satisfaction and perseverance.

Pappas also includes in her article a report from Bradford Wilcox, author of Gender and Parenthood. “Dads are more likely to roughhouse than moms, a style of play that helps teach kids to control their bodies and emotions. Fathers are also more likely to encourage their kids to embrace risk, both on the playground and in life. This influences the ambitions of children over the long run.”

So dads matter and their parenting style matters. Dads who listen to their children, play, and use imagination in storytelling have a powerful affect on their children’s emotional and physical development.

Put another way, researcher Laura Padilla-Walker told LiveScience, “That doesn’t mean going on fancy vacations, it can be playing ball in the backyard or watching a movie with your kids,” she said. “Whatever it is, just make yourself available and when you’re with your children, be with them.”

boys readingI’ve created a list of ten of the best 2014 storybooks for parents of children birth to age 5.

I look for exceptional quality and books that are perfect read-alouds for little ones.

These stories, with their familiar themes, playful rhyming words, and stunning artwork will capture your children’s hearts.

To get your copy of the list, click the button.