Celebrating Boxes!

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So many uses for a box – beyond unpacking it!  When my son was young, he would flip them over and make stands for his plastic musical instruments.  Toddlers often prefer the box to the gift – and a few years ago there was a viral video about Caine, a young boy who built a cardboard arcade. If you missed it….

A new book by Jane Yolen, What To Do With a Box, reminded me of two other box-themed favorites: Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran and Not a Box by Antoinette Portis.  All three books are perfect read-alouds – and fun vehicles for young children to use their imaginations.


What To Do With a Box is a pure celebration of things to do with boxes: having a tea party with your dolls, turn it into a race car, or “climb inside there read a book.”


The pictures by Chris Sheban achieve a kind of magic – while they are the same brown color as an ordinary box, they glow with the power of imagination.



After looking at Sheban’s illustrations, I went to his website to learn more about him and it turns out he grew up in Ohio (an inspirational place for young artists!) – and did the artwork for, among other books, Paperboy by Vince Vawter, one of my favorite young adult novels.


Antoinette Portis’s Not a Box captures the endearing certainty that young children have about their imaginary play. The star of Not a Box is a rabbit who turns his box into, among other things, a robot or a race car.  The vibe of this book is pure Harold – the little guy with the powerful purple crayon. The simple lines here are red rather than purple, but the rabbit and the boy are kindred spirits.


Roxaboxen is for those seeking the next level of box creativity. The classic story about a group of children who use cardboard, sand and rocks to build a whole town – complete with an ice cream shop. It’s an inspiring story – and even aspirational to those of us with less developed imaginations!

I hope we get a delivery today – maybe I’ll save the box!






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