We recently welcomed daughter number three to our growing family, and though we frequently run out of wipes and milk, we find that we are never in short supply of (1) pink clothes, (2) hair accessories, and (3) opinions. My three-year old has made a high art of expressing her opinion, especially when it comes to doing things herself. “I can do it!” is an oft-heard expression, and is offered up every time a helpful hand attempts to intervene. I steel myself every time I try to help her out of the car: she perches precariously on the edge, waving me away, chanting her refrain, “I can do it!” before tipping out of the car and somehow, miraculously, landing on her feet. Her stubbornness is serendipitous at times; I once watched,

open-mouthed, as she muscled a 5-pound can of wheat into the house, all the while reassuring me, “I can do it!” One can was impressive, but after hauling ten similar cans, I was downright amazed by her determination.

Later, she watched me and her dad lug a seven-foot Christmas tree into our living room. She coolly appraised the situation, a hand on one hip, while I waited for her to bodily insert herself into the situation. She merely watched me huff and puff for a moment, then declared: “That is a mama job.” But I’ve wondered, why do children insist on being such independent little souls? And at such young ages? Meet Suzy, the spunky little goose of this month’s featured book, Suzy Goose and the Christmas Star, by Petr Horacek. The book opens onto a charming scene of farm animals admiring a Christmas tree. The tree is beautifully decorated, but Suzy notices that something is missing: a star for the top! Suzy has already spotted the perfect star in the sky, and determinedly begins a journey to attempt the impossible. Watch your little reader use great comprehension skills as he predicts what will happen when Suzy climbs atop a fence to reach the star, or giggle together as Suzy launches off a hill and lands with a comical “Splat!” Though she must finally trudge home empty-handed, you will enjoy reading about Suzy’s happy ending as she returns to the warm comfort of home and friends. While Suzy’s story is slightly silly, she teaches us something about children’s need for independence, and perhaps even our own. The desire to help — and to be helpful — stems from a desire to contribute meaningfully to our community, to be wanted and valuable to those around us. Just as Suzy rushes down a snow-covered hill in her effort to be helpful to her friends, little people need opportunities to be valued and needed in a big person world. Discuss ways your little reader can make a big difference this Christmas season, perhaps by donating gently-used toys to those in need, contributing to a food drive for the hungry, or saving up money to buy a present for a lonely classmate. Please comment on our Facebook page, and tell us about your acts of kindness, and give others some great ideas for perpetuating that Christmas spirit! All of us at Readeo wish you and yours a very happy and content Christmas. Thank you to Candlewick Press for making this story available to read throughout December with your loved ones. Happy reading, Kristen Johnson