Children's Literature @ NYPL
I Want To Be Your Personal Penguin: Wedding Readings from Children’s Books
Being a librarian, it's not surprising when I say that I'm surrounded by stories. But in reality, we are all surrounded by stories, every day. This was never more apparent to me than when I officiated a friend's wedding. She asked that I include a reading from a children's book, and while neither she nor her fiancé had any particular connection to children's literature, we created a whole ceremony around the power of story.
The groom told the story of how they met. The bride had her own version of that very same story. I told my story of watching them fall in love. Everyone who was at the ceremony was there because they were a part of the couple's individual — and now shared — stories. Besides, what better way to start a new chapter than with a kiss?
In preparing for the ceremony, I asked my librarian friends for suggestions of what to read. This is our compiled list, with small excerpts from each selection. There are, of course, passages from amazing classics, such as Winnie the Pooh, The Velveteen Rabbit, The Little Prince, and Shel Silverstein, all of which are often used in weddings. But if you're looking for something a bit offbeat, here are some rock-star children's-librarian choices.
(simple enough for a child reader)
Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger
The story of a leaf who isn't ready to let go from the tree.
And then, high up on an icy branch, a scarlet flash. / One more leaf holding tight. / "You're here?" called the Little Yellow Leaf. / "I am," said the Little Scarlet Leaf. / "Like me!" said the Little Yellow Leaf. / Neither spoke. / Finally… "Will you?" asked the Little Scarlett Leaf. / "I will!" said the Little Yellow Leaf. / And one, two, three, they let go and soared.
I like you a lot. / You're funny and kind. / So let me explain / What I have in mind. / I want to be your personal penguin. / I want to walk right by your side. / I want to be your personal penguin. / I want to travel with you far and wide.
Like Likes Like by Chris Raschka
A lone cat sees pairs of animals and longs to find his mate. But first, he learns to appreciate the wonders that he finds on his search. (The illustrations are integral to the story, so unless you can show the book, it might not work with words alone.)
Unlike the rest. Unlucky, alone. / Ah. Oh. Rows and rows / of roses. / He sees / seas, / … a breeze, trees / high, wide skies,/ …Look! / In luck. / Looks like / like likes like. / Oh. How lucky. / Not alone now, / two together, / in rows and rows / of roses.
I Like You by Sandol Stoddard
The many reasons for liking someone.
I like you because / If you find two four-leaf clovers / You give me one / If I find four / I give you two / If we only find three / We keep on looking. … I like you because if I am mad at you / Then you are mad at me too / It's awful when the other person isn't / They are so nice and hoo-hoo you could / just about punch them in the nose. … I would go on choosing you / And you would / go on choosing me / Over and over again.
Some Things Go Together by Charlotte Zolotow
Pairs of things that go together.
Pigeons with park / Stars with dark / Sand with sea / and you with me. … Hats with heads / Pillows with beds / Sky with blue / and me with you.
Easy Readers and Chapter Books
(It may seem strange to read a longer passage, but remember, adults love story time too!)
"You're the beginning and the end, the hub, the core, and the quintessence," he told her tenderly, but the frivolous dot wasn't a bit interested, for she only had eyes for a wild and unkempt squiggle.
George and Martha by James Marshall
A story of two very wise hippos who are supposedly just friends (though we all know there's more going on). I am especially fond of the "Split Pea Soup" chapter.
One day after George had eaten ten bowls of Martha's soup, he said to himself, "I just can't stand another bowl. Not even another spoonful." So, while Martha was out in the kitchen, George carefully poured the rest of his soup into his loafers under the table. "Now she will think I have eaten it." But Martha was watching from the kitchen. "How do you expect to walk home with your loafers full of split pea soup?" she asked George. "Oh dear," said George. "You saw me."
Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan
In "Grandpa's Story," Grandpa tells about a scavenger hunt that all couples had to go on before getting married — a road map for all to follow.
This was the Scavenger Hunt, always the most troublesome and feared part of any wedding... But every setback only made us more determined. Scared? Sure, sometimes, but we had each other. That must be what it's all about, we thought: As long as we stick together, nothing can stop us!
"The Whale and the Seagull" from The Squirrel's Birthday and Other Parties by Toon Tellegan
The story of a lonely whale at the bottom of the ocean who is invited to a party for the first time.
They straightened their backs and the whale rested a fin on the sea gull's shoulder, while the seagull draped a wing around the whale's middle. Then they danced, silently and seriously, on the moon-drenched beach, to the sound of the slow surf. Everyone held their breath and thought: "No one had ever danced like this before."
Sheep and Goat by Marleen Westera
A surprisingly philosophical little book from the perspective of two woolly friends. This comes from the "Happiness" chapter:
"What are you doing?" asks Goat. "I'm looking for happiness," answers Sheep. "Don't waste your time, Sheep. Happiness will find you." "Help me look!" shouts Sheep. "No, I'm much too comfortable here," says Goat. "Then I'll look by myself. But if I find happiness, I'm going to keep it," says Sheep. ...
"Well, did you find happiness?" asks Goat. "I thought I had. But I was wrong. I'm sorry." "That's all right, Sheep," says Goat. "Would you like a mouthful of hay? It's a little dry today." "It doesn't matter," says Sheep. She takes a big bite. It is dry, and a little dusty. But it tastes like happiness.