Coloring Outside the Lines with Madeline #tbt

As a staunch rule follower myself, I love reading books about characters who dare to color outside the lines, seeing the world from a different vantage point. My first, Preschool Bookworm, is a compliant child as well. My second, Baby Bookworm (at the ripe age of 9 months), is proving to be our daredevil risk taker! Case in point: I’ve told Preschool Bookworm that he’s not allowed to climb out of his crib, so he’s still in a crib at 32 months. Just because mom said so. On the other hand, Baby Bookworm gets a gleam in his eye when he spots a power cord; I instruct “no cords,” and he flashes a giant smile, turns, and bolts toward the wires of death. Whether you find yourself and your bookworms squarely in line or outside, the story of Madeline is sure to delight! She’s a leader, she’s brave, she’s inspiring- even inspiring hypochondria!


Each Thursday I’ll be featuring a book that my parents *could* have read to me as a toddler (spoiler alert: I’m no spring chicken), so we will go with a publication date of 1983 or earlier; all books must still be in print as of my writing.

Title/author: Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

Copyright date: 1939

Plot in a Sentence (or two): Irrepressible Madeline lives at a boarding school in Paris with 11 other children; one night she falls ill with appendicitis, and after a brief hospital stay proves to be the girl everyone wants to be like!

Why It’s Timeless: Told in lilting rhyming couplets with a spacious layout to accentuate the illustrations, Madeline is inviting to both the ear and the eye. Madeline was the first of many books featuring the spunky protagonist. I love this quote about the appeal of the title character, taken from the Madeline website:

Madeline is a gutsy little girl, and that’s what makes her such a unique role model in a time when storybook princesses defined femininity for girls. Madeline gave young girls a reason to explore who they were as individuals, even if that meant being a tad disobedient. She gave girls the courage to speak their mind and showed them that there was nothing unfeminine about being smart and strong.

An important message for my boys to read, too.

While You’re ReadingMadeline (the book, just like her leading lady) can stand on her own. There’s not really anything you need to do to enjoy a reading of Madeline. But, with any rhyming story, you can have fun with language! (I would recommend this for subsequent readings. Just enjoy the story your first few times through.) As your bookworm shows interest, pause your reading for a second or two before completing the rhyming couplet to allow your bookworm to supply the missing word. This helps kids experience the rhythm of language, teaches visual literacy (as they search the pictures for clues to support their word choices), and it’s fun!

Just for Fun: Bemelmans’ grandson is continuing his legacy by continuing to write new installments of Madeline’s adventures. The Madeline website has a section with games, coloring pages, mazes, word searches, and a tutorial on how to draw Madeline.

Keep Reading!

Madeline should be readily available at your local library, or at the affiliate link provided. 

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