As a Reading Specialist, people ask me all the time about what books they should put in their child’s library, what kind of book to bring to a shower, how to pick a great book as a gift, etc. Well, let me make this simple for you. I have two words: ELEPHANT & PIGGIE.
No, I’m not just stating two stinky yet adorable animals. Oh no. I am instead introducing you to two of the best characters in children’s literature right now. Mo Willems, the genius behind this series, as well as the beloved Pigeon books, does a phenomenal job teaching morals to his readers in an engaging and hilarious way, all through simple conversations between Gerald the Elephant and his friend Piggie.
WHY ELEPHANT AND PIGGIE NEEDS TO BE A PART OF YOUR CHILD’S LIBRARY
The relatable stories. Willems takes everyday events that children struggle with, such as being left out, sharing a toy, etc. and teaches how to deal with these difficult situations in an uplifting and positive way. These are not “hit you over the head” moral stories, instead simply subtle messages about how to interact with others in a respectful and fun way.
The creative dialogue. The books in this series simply consist of dialogue between the two main characters, with some other friends mixed in every once in a while. That means that every single word is used effectively to tell the story that you truly are reading art from someone who is the best at his craft.
The detailed illustrations. You would think that there would only be a few ways to draw an elephant or pig’s face. Oh no, that is not the case at all. Each drawing exudes emotion and really helps you in reading the story with gusto, such as when Piggie’s toy gets broken or Gerald becomes enraged because there is a bird nest on his head.
The absolutely hilarious and smart stories. Sometimes I want to smack myself in the head instead of reading the same boring book over and over again to my boys. But with my friends Gerald and Piggie, I never have that problem. I could read one of our favorites, We Are In a Book over and over again because of its smart story…and the characters ask to be read again…and how could you say no to those faces?
The read aloud aspect. In our house, we always read one or two books aloud while cuddling on the couch before bedtime. When we have a visitor over, they are the reader for the night. And if there are a pair of readers, we of course have them enthusiastically read the parts of Elephant and Piggie. It is so incredibly fun to hear how people interpret the animals’ voices…and I must tell you that we were absolutely SHOCKED to learn in one of the books that Piggie was a girl. Mind. Blown.
Oh, and for you local parents…be sure to check out the theatrical adaptation at the Emerald City Theatre of “Elephant and Piggie: We Are in a Play!” We are checking it out this Spring. I can’t wait to see my boys jump with excitement to see their favorite book characters live and on stage.
Looking for other book recommendations? Here are our top picks!