I thought I could begin this post by asking whether you want your kids to be happy.
But I figured that even as a rhetorical question, it seemed a little silly. Of course we want our kids to be happy. Perhaps a harder question to answer is “How do we help our kids to be happy?”
Everything I’ve seen on fostering happiness says one key component is nurturing gratitude: learning to see the good and great things around us, focussing on the good rather than that which makes us bitter.
Dear Bunny… written by Katie Cotton and illustrated by Blanca Gómez is a very quiet, gentle way into having that discussion with our kids. Just what does make them happy and what are they grateful for?
A young child’s friend – a stuffed bunny – asks “What’s your favourite thing in the world?“. The girl likes so many things she decides to write them all down, and over the course of the pages that follow we see how even simple delights such as swinging high or splashing in the bath are what make her happy. What gives her the greatest joy, however, is that she has a good friend to share all these moments with – her beloved bunny.
There’s a gentleness and lightness of touch to both text and illustration which ensures this charming book never veers towards the saccharine. It’s a tender, reflective book, ideal for reading at bedtime, a sort of secular prayer. Moments of honesty and innocence inject a dash of humour, bringing the real child back into focus.
Subdued earthy tones in Gómez’s illustrations add to a sense of warmth and peacefulness. An interesting mix of highly patterned detail with much plainer expanses creates a sense of space, perhaps just the sort that is needed to quietly contemplate what brings us joy.
Sometimes it is hard to tell a friend how grateful we are for them – how much easier it is to tell a toy! But this lovely book makes it easier for us all to talk about good and positive things, and a book which spreads happiness is a very good book indeed.
Inspired by the illustration on the book’s front cover the girls and I set about making butterflies. Although it is hard to see it in the image above, the butterflies have gold foil edges to their wings – a delightful detail in the book’s production – and so our butterflies too had to have a brush with gold. Here’s how we made them:
I rather think that a bouquet of butterflies works just as well as a bunch of flowers!
Now seeing as Dear Bunny… is all about our favourite things and what we’re grateful for, here are my seven favourite things in the world (at this precise moment in time):
What are your favourite things in the world right now?
Whilst making our butterflies we listened to:
Other activities which might work well alongside reading Dear Bunny… include:
If you liked this post you might like these other posts by me:
Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book by the publisher.