LO is just finally getting into the concept of dress-up, which is truly an area for an adventurous mind to shine. Of course, having an impeccable dress-up wardrobe of princess dresses and chef's outfits is fun for a kid....but I think that watching kids create their own dress-up outfits using their imagination is even better. Lately, LO has been wrapping herself in our big, fluffy blankets on the couch and exclaiming, "Look at my princess dress!" In her mind, swimming in large swaths of fluffy fabric makes her a princess, whether it is sparkly and looks like Cinderella or not.....and I love that. Hats do the same magic trick - a good hat can help you imagine that you are anything!
Here are some books about hats that we have been reading lately. One is a classic that I remember from my childhood, and the other two are classics-to-be with some dark and edgy humor that still goes over great with the kiddos.
A peddler sells hats that he wears stacked high on his head, and a tree full of monkeys takes his hats while he rests one afternoon. Ridiculous? Yes. But very effective story telling! Everything about this book is wonderful for a read-aloud, which is probably why it is still so popular. I remember loving this book when it was on Reading Rainbow when I was young, and my LO has loved it since it was given to her for her first birthday. "Caps! Caps for Sale! Fifty Cents a Caaaaaa-aaap!" She shouts this sometimes, whimsically and randomly, when she is playing with her toys. I delight to think about what she is imagining: is she imagining balancing dozens of hats on her head? Is she imagining battling a tree full of monkeys? I will probably never know, but I do know that the book has made a positive impression on her, and for that I am grateful.
by Jon Klassen
This book is wildly popular, very funny, yet also morally challenging. The first time I read it, I was literally at a loss for words: did that really just happen!?! Basically, a bear has lost his hat. He is very sad. He asks many creatures if they have seen it. They all say no......but one of them is lying. In the process of looking for his hat, Bear is polite, helps out some friends, and becomes more distressed about losing his beloved hat. You really empathize with this bear! When he finally realizes that he knows where his hat is, a darker bear emerges...and this is where things get tricky. I have read many parent reviewers that say this book is appalling and inappropriate for young children, because it teaches revenge and violence (even though it is only subtly implied at the end). My first take on the book was not that it was vengeful and violent, but that it was trying to illustrate the concept of lying: there are two lies told in this tale and they are the only passages that follow a different pattern and tone than the rest of the story. While I am certain that these intricacies of plot are lost on young children, it does give the reader the opportunity to discuss more complicated moral concepts through a relatable tale. And the book is a hoot to read in the process.
This is the companion piece to the above Klassen "Hat," and the winner of the most recent Caldecott Award for best picture book. It is equally as popular, funny, and challenging as its predecessor. The premise is very similar, but told from a different perspective: we are now identifying with the hat thief, who is hopelessly trying to evade the hat owner from whom he just stole. The ending of this book is equal parts vague and horrifying, and the tale offers chances to explore the issue of stealing and remorse. The best part about this book is how perfectly the illustrations tell the story: just a simple change in the direction that eyes are looking conveys the plot perfectly, and gives the reader the opportunity to ask the listener what they think the characters are feeling/thinking before reading the text. LO really enjoys this hat book, questionable ending and all.