Books can speak loudly. . .even to very young children. I don’t think I appreciated quite how much until our first child was a toddler. We’d been reading the story of Peter Pan in a Disney picture book. Her eye had been drawn to the picture of Tiger Lily, tied up by Captain Hook on a partly submerged rock as the tide was coming in. She pointed to it, and though she was not yet stringing words into sentences, the look of distress on her face said it all. I turned the page and showed her the picture of Tiger Lily happily dancing around a campfire. “See, honey,” I said. “The girl is okay.” But nothing I said seemed to ease her distress over the sorry fate of a fellow being.
The following morning, however, she made a beeline for the book as soon as her feet hit the floor. She opened it to the pitiable picture, pointed at it, turned to me and asked, “Girl okay?” I assured her again that she was indeed and again showed her the campfire picture. Her eyes lit up as she repeated, “Oh! Girl okay!”–this time as an affirmation. Her relief was palpable. And my respect for the depth of feeling a book can evoke–even in one so young–was kindled.