narrative-794978__180Today’s guest blogger is Karis Lancaster who takes a step back in time, remembering the power of a good book.

Karis writes: My favorite childhood book is not one that I read dozens of times or one that my parents read aloud to me every night. It isn’t the first book I ever read or heard. I didn’t even discover it until midway through my first-grade year. Although written for a younger audience, Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney remains my most treasured book from my early elementary years because it was the only present I received on my seventh birthday.

In all fairness, my parents didn’t to deprive me of presents to be mean. luggage-933487__180A whirlwind of packing, language learning, goodbyes, training, and travel had swept us up, and my March birthday fell right in the center of the pandemonium. In a few months, we would be traveling to the other side of the world with all our earthly belongings backed into twenty-three trunks and so it came down to space. We simply did not have enough room for surplus toys or books or whatever other gifts one buys a seven-year-old girl.

I remember my store-bought cake with Spirit figurines on the top, the temporary quad we lived in at the training center, the smell of new carpet, and the one lonely, but appreciated, present sitting on the table. birthday-1208233__180Guess How Much I Love You, with its fanciful watercolor illustrations and amusing dialogue between Big Nutbrown Hare and Little Nutbrown Hare made me feel special in an uncertain time.

The trademark page gives this summary: “During a bedtime game, every time Little Nutbrown Hare demonstrates how much he loves his father, Big Nutbrown Hare gently shows him that the love is returned even more.” The father and son playfully argue about who loves the other more, with each employing limbs and trees and moons to prove his greater love. person-857021__180I needed to believe that my parents knew what they were doing, that their love for me surpassed my love for them. I had to trust. For a young child about to go to an unfamiliar third-world country, the reminder of the simple and foundational family love proved instrumental to settling my nerves—at least on the plane ride over.

The book has followed me to every home since and currently occupies a place of honor in my dorm room thirteen years later. One day, I will read it to my young children, reminding them that I love them to the moon…and back.