We make it a habit to visit the school or public library every two weeks and borrow as many books as we're allowed. It's a great way to constantly discover amazing books we'd never read before and of course to keep story time interesting.
A few months ago we borrowed a book called The Journey Home by Frann Preston-Gannon. This beautiful picture book with illustrations by the author herself is simply written and yet effectively sends a very strong and very important message to its readers.
This gem of a book is surprisingly difficult to find on Amazon when you type in the title, which I thought was strange. But it's all the more reason why I want to talk about it, and encourage you to read it with your children.
A word of caution: there might be tears at the end of the story, yours and possibly your child's, so if your little one is the type of person who analyses stories in depth, best to read this book way before bedtime. Plus, you’ll want to have enough time to discuss it.
We read The Journey Home at bedtime, and it took me forty five minutes to calm my son down (while fighting back my own tears). But we both loved it so much that we have been talking about it since we read it months ago. I even read it to my son's class when it was my turn to be "mystery reader".
I don't want to say too much and spoil the book for you, but the story basically depicts four endangered animals (the ones you see on the cover) trying to find a place to live because their homes have been destroyed or because their lives are in danger. The boat they're on eventually takes them to an island which the author very cleverly intends to represent 'extinction'.
Yes, the story is very sad, as is the fact that our planet is in trouble, but it strikes an important, empathetic chord in the hearts of readers, both young and old, leading to very meaningful discussions about the future and what can be done to make things better.
If I can say anything about this picture book it's this: it's definitely worth the tears. After I'd read the book to my son and his classmates, it filled my heart with joy to see such little people talk about the problems we're facing and try to come up with real solutions to make the world better for the animals we share our planet with. And to top it all off, my son also decided he wanted to support a charity that helps to save the planet on his next birthday.
And isn't that what we want the books our kids read to do? Isn't the whole point to inspire them to improve themselves and the world around them?
That's exactly what The Journey Home does.
(While typing this, my toddler saw the picture of the cover and said, "I miss dis book fwom da libwawy mommy." Time to buy our very own copy!)