3 Reasons Moms Love 'Corduroy' Even More Than Their Kids Do

Here's why the classic teddy bear tale is a keeper — for parents and kids alike.
By Megan Zander
Jan 23, 2019

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3 Reasons Moms Love 'Corduroy' Even More Than Their Kids Do
From "Corduroy" by Don Freeman, published by Penguin

Jan 23, 2019

The other day, I was doing my annual January inventory of books, to figure out what’s still working for my six-year-old twins, and what they’ve outgrown and are ready to donate. They lobbied to keep titles they’ve adored since they were infants, like the Eric Carle board books now falling apart at the seams from being read countless times. And no one would consider parting with any book about Winnie the Pooh and his pals. But it was another book about a bear that had me saying, “That’s a keeper — for sure.”

There are so many amazing books for kids out there, but Corduroy is one of my all-time favorites. Kids love the 1968 classic because it embodies classic themes like the importance of friendship and a loving home (Plus the idea of getting to explore a store after hours is just plain cool!). But I think there’s even more to learn from the story of how little Lisa got her teddy bear, which is why Corduroy is a book my boys and I keep coming back to, story time after story time.

1. It teaches the value of money.

Most of our household purchases happen with the help of a credit or debit card, which can make it harder for my kids to understand that things cost money, and that Mommy doesn’t have a magic card that lets her buy them whatever she wants, whenever they want it (If only!).

 “Oh Mommy!” she said. “Look! There’s the very bear I’ve always wanted.”

When Lisa asks her mom for Corduroy, her mom tells her no.

“Not today dear, “her mother sighed. “I’ve spent too much already. Besides, he doesn’t look new. He’s lost the button to one of his shoulder straps.”

Rather than cry or whine about leaving Corduroy behind, Lisa decides to spend her own savings on the bear.

I repeat — the child hears the word no and Does. Not. Whine. That fact alone is enough to make we want to read the book to children on the regular in hopes that they’ll follow her lead.

In addition to her awesome example of maturity, Lisa chooses to buy Corduroy on her own and with her own money, which is a great lesson for children my boys’ age who are just getting to the Tooth Fairy stage. Instead of asking to go buy a treat or small toy the instant they find that dollar under their pillow, they’re learning to hang on to their bills and save them for something really special.

2. It shows kids the path to independence.  

Lisa may be young, but that doesn’t stop her from doing things on her own. She manages to go to the store, buy, and then bring Corduroy home all by herself.

“Shall I put him in a box for you,” the saleslady asked.
“Oh, no thank you,” Lisa answered.

She even politely refuses the offer of a box for him, because she’s got this handled, thankyouverymuch.

Then she sews on his missing button without any help. I love this part of the story because it teaches kids that imperfect things still have value, as well as doubles down on the lesson that kids are capable of doing things alone.

So much of parenting young kids is teaching them how to do things without our help. From zipping their jackets to opening applesauce pouches by themselves, I sometimes feel like a cheerleader with my constant chants of, “You can do it!” Just hand me some pompoms.

Hopefully, reading Corduroy helps my kids see they’re more than capable of doing things without my assistance. Does this mean I expect them to toddle down to the corner store and pick up milk when we’re out? Of course not. But Lisa’s can-do attitude is a great reminder to my kids that they have skills too, and that if she can do it, so can they.

3. It shows a diverse world.

She ran all the way up four flights of stairs, into her family’s apartment, and straight into her own room.

As a kid who grew up in a third-floor apartment, I’ve always appreciated how Corduroy steps outside of the traditional narrative of a needing a big house in order to find a happy ending. Lisa dashing up the steps of her building and into her bedroom (and not into a fairy tale castle) is truly relatable to so many kids who live that reality

And while children’s literature today is thankfully more diverse than ever, I love that this book stars an African American girl as shining example of responsibility and true friendship. Lisa is smart, loving, fiercely independent, and someone I am very proud to have my kids emulate and look to as a role model.

So yes, Corduroy's a keeper. And I may have (and by may I mean totally did) just ordered a copy for my infant niece too. 

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