It was Christmas Eve and I was four years old. As I was sitting on the couch, my older sister handed me a present from under the tree. I eagerly ripped open the package and came face to face with a little brown and white stuffed dog who would quickly become a dear companion. I named him Freddy and gave him a big hug, beginning a relationship that would last throughout my childhood. Freddy had many adventures with me, and in my imagination, he came to life for more adventures of his own.
Picture books with stuffed animals that have human feelings, relationships, and adventures are numerous and have been popular for generations. Corduroy are well-known classics that give a child’s toys lives of their own.
Here are a few more of my favorite stuffed characters from picture books:
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
Pictured here is a newly illustrated version of the touching original story of a boy’s stuffed toy that learns the hard way that the experience of love is what makes him real.
Hoot by Jane Hissey
Little Bear and his friends discover a new friend in the nursery. It is Hoot, an owl who is only awake at night. The illustrations really bring the stuffed friends to life. Read this book and you just might find an explanation of where those missing socks have gone!
Knuffle Bunny : A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems
A toddler’s beloved bunny is accidentally left at the laundromat. There is humor in her pre-speaking attempts to convey her distress at leaving her beloved toy behind.
These days, Freddy sits on a shelf in my home. His fur is worn and faded, his nose almost worn off, and his ears are very droopy, but like these magical picture books, he is a reminder to me of the wonder and imagination of childhood.