Book It

By Lloyd Graff

It’s holiday gift giving time for those of us fortunate enough to be able to do it.

Let me make a suggestion. If you have children or grandchildren young enough to be read to, find a book that you would love to read to them, buy it and then read it to them when they are preparing to go to bed. And read it with GUSTO.

My favorite books these days are by the fabulous American illustrator and writer Mo Willems. The beauty of his works is that they are both extravagantly illustrated in vivid colors and enormously entertaining for both kids and the pseudo adults who read them. They lend themselves to exaggerated dramatic rendering. My older grandchildren know them by heart, but they love to hear me stumble through them as they wait for the punch lines, which I do with over the top zest while they launch into riotous laughter.

That is the beauty of a great kids book. It can be heard 50 times and it gets better with each telling, if the storyteller gets into it.

This is why a Mo Willems book beats a video game by a mile as a gift. The video game is a one-way present, but a book like Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs and Nanette’s Baguette are totally interactive fun.


I find it fascinating how “analytics” are changing the sports I have always loved, baseball and basketball.

If you have watched a basketball game lately you will have seen how it has evolved into a game of 3-point attempts and drives to the hoop. The stats tell us that midrange jump shoots are a loser if they comprise more than 50% of the shots put up in game.

If you watch the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets you see the trend being played out successfully. Both teams have tremendous 3-point shooters to execute the plan and coaches who gladly embrace the approach.

Boston with Kyrie Irving now has the point guard who can make the strategy work, though his outside shot is not as beautiful as Steph Curry’s or James Harden’s. The Cleveland Cavaliers with LeBron don’t have the perfect personnel to execute this drive and kick out strategy, but they may by the end of the season.

The baseball version of the drive and kick for the 3-pointer is the walk and homer approach. This year you saw more players take walks and change their swings to hit home runs because the analytics told teams it was the way to win.

It is possible the ball was juiced a little bit, but the primary reason that there were so many homers this past season was that the players changed their swings to elevate the ball when they hit it. They also took a lot of pitches trying to tire out the pitchers and look for the right pitch to jack.

Of course, the defense reacted by hunting for ground ball throwing pitchers and 100-mile per hour relievers. The baseball cliché is that it is a “game of adjustments,” and in this case that is certainly accurate.

Personally, I miss the turnaround jump shot at the free throw line in basketball and small ball with bunts and stolen bases in baseball. But the beauty of sports is that they constantly evolve. With the Japanese Babe Ruth, Shohei Otani, coming to Major League Baseball in 2018, who can pitch and play outfield to take advantage of his power hitting, we will be seeing a new kind of player. I can’t wait. Hopefully he’ll be with the Cubs.

Question: What is your favorite children’s book?

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17 thoughts on “Book It

  1. David Katz

    Thanks for the advice, “read with Gusto”. I sometimes read to my two year old son as though I’m just passing the time waiting for him to fall asleep: a disservice to both of us. I have make every moment count.

  2. allen

    “Robinson Crusoe”.

    The copy I found in the school library was a published in the 1920’s so it was filled with archaisms like “viz”. Part of the fun of reading the book was trying to figure out the meaning of phrases that had fallen out of common use. I ought to see how well the book’s worn after all these years but I’d have to find a similarly antique copy to make a decent comparison.

    I know it’s not really a children’s book but I read it when I was eight so at least I was a child.

    I liked the Dr. Seuss books although they never made any sense to me. Still don’t. Maybe it’s me.

  3. David Smith

    The Little Fur Family by Margaret Wise Brown. My kids loved that book and now my grandkids do too.

  4. Bill

    My 3 kids, all in college now, grew up with me reading “Love you forever” by Robert Munsch. About unconditional love and the cycle of life. The last word of the last line was “be”, and I’d take a deep breath and take as long as I could to read that last word. The kids thought that was the greatest thing. They still remind me of the countless times we read that together… looking forward to reading it to grandkids.

  5. Willis Lee

    Our kids started out on the “Little Golden Books”. They have been readers ever since. Unfortunately, the grandkids live to far away for us old grandparents to have the interaction we would like with them. But all is not lost. Some of those “old books” are now being requested.

  6. Lloyd Graff

    These comments are such a delight to read.
    Here’s a thought. Have your children or grandchildren read to you. Get the delight bouncing back.

  7. Lloyd Graff

    My mother used to read minidramas to my sister Susan and me. She played several roles with different voices and dialects. I had forgotten about that until I started to write the last comment. Very sweet memory.

  8. Tony

    Are You My Mother. Reading to children (and having them read back, when able) is the single most important thing grownups can do to help with child intellectual development, laying the foundation for them to not struggle with education.

  9. Paul Richins

    Any of the Dumb Bunnies books by Dav Pilkey. I read to my 3 boys each night, and when it was a DB book I would switch the first letter of two words in most sentences, i.e. “The Bumb Dunnies”, always to big laughs from the boys.
    The older two eventually excused themselves from the nightly reading, but, at his continuing request, I read a couple of pages each night from books of his choice to my youngest until he left home for a mission at age 19. Best times of my life.

  10. Kim

    Picture books for young kids:
    Three Hens and a Peacock
    Goodnight Gorilla
    Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
    Press Here
    Berenstain Bears books
    Click Clack Moo, Cows that type
    Little Critter books

    Chapter books
    Junie B. Jones books
    Anything by Beverly Cleary (e.g. Ramona Quimby books)
    Anything by Roald Dahl (e.g. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Witches, etc.)


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