Animals are a popular subject for children’s picture books, but P.D. Eastman takes a different take on an animal story in Are You My Mother? Eastman focuses on animal recognition and the special bond between mother and child in this story full of beautifully simplistic illustrations. The illustrations highlight only what is necessary: the baby bird and the animal or object he thinks is his mother. Page after page follows this young bird on his journey to find out who his mother is. Along the way, we meet many different animals who tell the baby bird they are not his mother. We also meet a few objects that the baby bird quickly realize cannot be his mother.
Eastman uses a clever storyline to teach children about different types of animals and the concept of mother and child being the same species, as well as the difference between animate and inanimate objects. This is a great way to begin introducing children to complex topics without them even being aware of their own learning. Are You My Mother? is also a special experience for mother and child to share together because the book acknowledges the bond between mother and child and the special feeling of recognizing your mother. Recognition of faces and attachment to mothers is a common stage for young children and this book can be a good choice to read with children at this time in development.
Eastman uses his writing to help children with recognition of sounds including, “plop” and “snort.” These are also shown in the pictures, so children are able to see the word, hear the word, and witness the action in the illustrations. The repetition of the text also helps children follow the sequence of the story. Each time the baby bird talks to a new animal, Eastman recalls each animal the baby bird has previously talked to in order to remind the reader what has previously occurred. This is crucial for helping children understand sequencing and past events in relation to the present.
While Are You My Mother? was originally published in 1960, this book will never go out of style. It covers topics that are always relevant, it is accurate for child development, and introduces useful learning concepts for children. It has also been redone to include English and Spanish text, making it more accessible for children and families today.
This is a story that my mother read to me numerous times as a child and one that I plan to read to my child in the future.