To love and be loved in return. To have good friends and be a good friend to others. The courage to learn to forgive. The joy of being forgiven. These are some of life's sweetest moments that arise from our relationships with family and friends, and these are important lessons to teach children.

Often you'll find children's literature a helpful springboard to teach and initiate conversation about such issues. Today's reviewed books serve as good examples of this kind of literature for children. Each has something substantial to offer, but none plays overkill in making their point. Perhaps that is the hallmark of a well-written children's book: a moral to the story that is subtle enough that we notice, but barely.

Books to Borrow

The following book is available at many public libraries.

"The Silent Boy" by Lois Lowry, Houghton Mifflin, 178 pages

Read aloud: age 10 and older.

Read yourself: age 10 and older.

Katy Thatcher was an intensely curious and bright girl. Her father was the town doctor, and Katy fully intended to be a doctor someday, too. She often accompanied her father on his endless house calls, and he patiently answered all of her questions.

There was a boy, Jacob, who lived on a farm outside of town. Katy had met Jacob, and she found friendship in his gentleness. Jacob never looked directly at Katy, nor could he speak to her. Instead, he made noises and would hum songs to the horses. People said Jacob was touched in the head, was an imbecile. But Katy saw something different in Jacob, and understood him. They developed a special friendship, and Jacob knew Katy believed in him.

When tragedy struck, it was Katy and her family that Jacob turned to for help. And it was Katy, the only one who truly understood Jacob, who could explain what had happened and why.

A bittersweet story of friendship, the masterful Lois Lowry has created yet another novel that will linger with readers long after the last page is read.

Librarian's Choice

Library: Trimble County Public Library, 35 Equity Dr., Bedford, Ky.

Library Director: Lisa Wegner

Children's Librarian: Tera Simpson

Choices this week: "I Love You Just the Same" by Erica Wolf; "What I Like About Me" by Allia Zobel-Nobin; "Among the Hidden" by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Books to Buy

The following books are available at favorite bookstores.

"The Invisible Boy" by Trudy Ludwig, illustrated by Patrice Barton, Alfred A. Knopf, 2013, 36 pages, $16.99 hardcover

Read aloud: age 4 and older.

Read yourself: age 7 - 8.

Young Brian is a student in a classroom full of noisy kids. Brian is not noisy, and as such, he is rather invisible to his classmates and even to his teacher. At recess, when it comes to playing ball and choosing teams, no one ever picks Brian. When it comes to parties, no one ever invites Brian, yet he hears the kids talking and laughing about what a good time they had. One thing Brian loves to do doesn't require friends-he draws terrific pictures. And so, he passes his free time at school doing just that.

When a new boy, Justin, comes to class, Brian notices the kids making fun of him for the contents of his lunch. Brian "sits there and wonders which is worse-being laughed at or feeling invisible." That evening Brian decides he wants to make Justin feel welcome, so Brian draws a picture for him and includes a note. The next day when Justin finds the note, a new friendship emerges, and suddenly and progressively, Brian is no longer invisible.

Sensitive and perfect illustrations accompany this outstanding story about what it feels like to be left out and how simple acts of kindness can go a very long way.

"The Seesaw" by Judith Koppens, illustrated by Eline van Lindenhuizen, Clavis, 2013, 31 pages, $13.95 hardcover

Read aloud: age 2 1⁄2 - 5.

Read yourself: age 6 - 7.

Giraffe is going to the playground, intending to have a lot of fun. He decides he will play on the seesaw, but then realizes he can't seesaw by himself. Suddenly he sees Mouse and invites her to seesaw with him. But mouse doesn't weigh enough to seesaw with Giraffe. When Monkey arrives, Mouse suggests Monkey try and seesaw with Giraffe, but Monkey isn't heavy enough either. The same scenario is true when Dog comes to the playground, and Giraffe is sad. But Giraffe's three friends come up with a plan to help their friend, and it works!

A charming story of friendship, cooperation and teamwork, this selection is lovely.

Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children's literature. She can be reached at her website: