I am an uncle who regularly records & sends my nieces and nephew read-aloud videos. While I like sharing books that I love with them, I am curious about what books they enjoy and why. Kid Connection is a place where you aren’t hearing as much from me as you are my nephew and eldest niece (the youngest is only three, so one day, she will be able to join in). So I recently asked them to pick out two books they enjoyed and explain some details about what they liked.
I’m A Unicorn (Candlewick)
Written & Illustrated by Helen Yoon
For ages: 3-7
My niece Hannah picked this one. She explained that it is about a bull who thinks he’s a unicorn because he is missing one of his horns. Hannah loved a spread where the bull is given a black ball with a rainbow on it. She expressed amusement over the expressions of the characters, particularly the bull being confused and mistaking this magical item for a piece of fruit. When the bull eats it, he poops rainbows, further convincing him he is this mythical creature. She also had a good handle on the book’s theme, even though she was only in the first grade. Hannah understood it was a story about discovering who you are even if your exterior doesn’t match how you feel inside.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Scholastic)
Written by J.K. Rowling
Illustrated by Mary GrandPré
For ages: 8+
My nephew Thomas has gotten into Harry Potter during his third-grade year. Personally, I’m not too fond of the Harry Potter books, mainly because of J.K. Rowling’s horrific transphobia. Still, I’m also not a jerk who will tell a kid not to read a book that doesn’t contain those sentiments. The Potter books have many problems, but he’s eight, so it’s not worth trying to explain that yet. He’s enjoying reading, so good for him.
When asked what the book was about, he replied, “Harry Potter goes to the school called Hogwarts, and he finds out about this secret room that has a trap door, and there’s this dog on the trap door, and they have to go through it and go through the obstacles to figure out what this stone, the Sorcerer’s Stone, is and there’s this and there’s a bad guy called Lord Baltimore. And they’ll have to face him.”
His favorite part was Harry entering Hogwarts for the first time and the world-building there. Where he needed clarification was in the lesson of the story. That makes sense, as it’s a more complex work of literature than most kids’ books. For us, we can see themes of prejudice towards people outside the circle of magic users and corruption in the form of what magic can do to people like Voldemort. He’s in the third book, Prisoner of Azkaban. I am wondering what will happen with these longer, more complex books.