Little Bear’s Little Boat by Eve Bunting and Nancy Carpenter

The process of growing up not only involves changes in appearance and size, but also emotional maturity, thanks to the combination of a gradual accruement of experience and knowledge, as well as societal expectations of us to behave a certain way by a certain age. In other words, even if you tried, you can’t help but grow up eventually — although, not without experiencing some growing pains along the way, no doubt.

In Little Bear’s Little Boat, Little Bear spends idyllic days on his beloved little boat, just rowing, fishing and dreaming on Huckleberry Lake.

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Alas, as time passes, Little Bear grows into Big Bear, and soon, the little boat becomes too small for him. His mother consoles him by telling him that it’s his destiny to become a big bear, whereas the little boat is destined to remain little.

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Although Big Bear feels sad that he can no longer spend time in the little boat, he eventually comes to terms with it and decides to find another little bear to give the boat to, so that the boat will not be left unused and unloved. Meanwhile, he starts building a new, much bigger boat for himself.

This is a sweet coming-of-age story of sorts that little ones can relate to — with Little Bear’s little boat being a metaphor for the changes we experience when we grow up. Just like Big Bear, we all have to learn to let go of the things we grow out of — but perhaps that’s not such a bad thing when we think of it as making way for the bigger, better things that are in store for each of us, like Big Bear and his big boat.

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