The Wonderful World of Children’s Books

Welcome to March edition of the Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival, hosted by Authentic Parenting and Mudpiemama. This month’s topic is “Discovering Through Books”. Please scroll down to the end of this post to find a list of links to the entries of the other participants. Enjoy!
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I love books. Even now, I read several every month. I read voraciously, enthusiastically, selectively, passionately. I credit my book loving to my mom, who read to me constantly when I was a kiddo.

Classic Pooh

Classic Pooh Love

In fact, my mom created such book lovers in her daughters that we would all take home from the library plastic bags filled with books. (And our funny sibling rivalry spurred us to not share these books – if a sister wanted to read it, she’d have to check it out herself! How did my parents survive this nonsense lol!)  My brother wasn’t as eager to read… at least not fiction… but if he had a magazine, a catalog, or instructions, he would (mind-bogglingly) spend hours pouring over the information.

It was fated that Pip would be a book lover herself.

Queen of the Book Mountain

One of the first books I bought her after she was born was “Look, Look!,” when I learned that infants are drawn to black and white in their early days.  The next set of books I bought was the Leslie Patricelli series, including “Quiet Loud” “Big Little” and “Yummy Yucky,” which actually has seen a resurgence in our house as Pip’s 23 months old now.

Books are good for tasting

Books are good for tasting, too

We read daily to Pip when she was an infant.  In fact, when she was an infant, reading was one of my go-to tools. If I needed an activity to do, I always knew I could grab a book, read the words and point out the pictures as I went along.

and for touching

and for touching

I remember in my Mommy & Me class, many new mothers said they hadn’t considered reading to their infants.  Some were self-conscious, and others didn’t think the child would be interested or understand what they were doing.  Due to my exposure with books, I have to admit this never crossed my mind. I absolutely love being read to aloud, and have fond memories of my mom reading The Trumpet of the Swan to me as a child. I wanted to have these experiences with my own daughter.

Magic Mirror Book

Welcome, Little One

If you are unsure about reading aloud, I’d suggest that our children are always and eternally interested in anything we do, and reading is just one example. Secondly, truly, no one who reads aloud has anything to be self-conscious about! Reading aloud is a gift of one’s voice and attention. But if you are nervous, then all the more reason to go full blast ahead and adopt crazy voices or silly facial expressions.  Soon you’ll all be laughing too hard to even notice you read the whole book and are starting again!

Acting out the book always gets laughs

Acting out the book always gets laughs

Now that Pip is a toddler, we don’t have a choice about books: she insists upon being read to daily. Every night before bed one of us reads to her.  They are also fantastic for car rides, as Pip will read a book to herself in the backseat.  I love hearing her mimic our words as she reads; it also gives me insight into what she pays attention to and has retained (is it the baby? the sun? or perhaps the little cricket in the corner of the page?).  I learn a lot from listening to her read to herself.

There are many more benefits to reading to our young children. Making connections through reading is a powerful way to help developing minds.  Pointing out “real world” examples of things Pip read about is one way of modeling these connections.  For instance, in “Big Little” the baby discovers “mud puddles” are little. After a rain, I crouched down with Pip and we splashed in a puddle together. I quoted the book, “Mud puddles are little” as a way to spark that connection for her.  Even if they don’t get it every time, they will at some point.  And it does not have to be contrived, or for any “end purpose” – the magic of books it that the more you read, the more these moments will just appear, and you will be smiling at each other over your shared secret.

Teddy bear, teddy bear, touch your nose

Teddy bear, teddy bear, touch your nose

Incorporating conversations about the things you’ve read in books is another way to expand a child’s world.  We adore Sandra Boynton’s “Doggies” book, and have fun imitating the different barks. One day my daughter pointed out a dog outside, and without thinking I made one of the more distinctive bark noises (in front of the dog-walkers, no less. Talk about not self-conscious!). Pip paused, staring at the dog, then looked up at me and after a beat, broke into a huge grin and belly-laughed. It was a brilliant moment.  Reading allows for authentic moments like these to happen.

Books are also magical due to their calming nature.  We use them to get a moment of rest when we need one; Pip is always up for a book and a cuddle on the couch. We are able to touch, sit close together, and let the moment take us places, be it whispering, giggling or pointing and pounding on the board book pages.  Reading with Pip also gives me a chance to watch and adore her as she focuses intently on the pages.

Reading with Daddy

Reading with Daddy, 5 Months Old

Books mirror life. They show children new situations they may be confronting soon, or give them more insight into other environments.  Before flying, we bought a book on airplanes for Pip. I don’t think she quite made the connection, but it’s a fun book nonetheless.

We adore the Babybug magazine series (of the Highlights fame) that our friends gifted to Pip.  The stories in the magazine are simple yet quite engaging.  It’s funny how they seem to mirror life:  one day our mail lady came to our door and Pip met her, which sparked endless conversation about the mail and the mail lady. The next day the Babybug arrived, and the first story was about Kim receiving a package in the mail.

Another reason I love Babybug is because it is so much fun for Pip to receive a new Babybug in the mail, just for her! They are also a great size: physically thin enough to carry a few with you where ever you go, while the magazine is long enough to hold a child’s attention for a while, yet not too long that parents get bored reading it.

Reading with Uncle

Reading with Uncle David

Books can also model emotions.  We LOVE the following books about Bobo the chimp: Hug and Yes.  In both these books the chimp has a wide variety of emotions as he looks for his mommy or refuses to nap.  Even though each book only has three words (Hug/Yes, Mommy, Bobo), Pip now accentuates the book by pointing out when Bobo is “sad,” “mad” and “happy,” along with her accompanying hand gestures. I truly believe this has helped her to identify her own emotions; when we ask her if she is sad or mad, she has this additional context to put those words in.

HUG

The last note I have about books is to repeat the old adage: do not judge a book by its cover.  There have been several times I’ve eyed a book of Pip’s and thought it probably wouldn’t hold her attention. And each time it’s ended up as one of our favorites.  Humble pie for Mama, coming right up!

Besides the ones listed above, I’d like to share Pip’s favorites books:

Here’s a list of books I look forward to reading with Pip when she’s older:

Do you have any happy reading memories, as a kid or with your kids? Do you have any favorite books I need to check out? I love hearing your thoughts!

Disclaimer: I’m not getting any services or payment for recommending Babybug, I just really love the magazine. And I’ve linked to Amazon books here for your convenience, but if you do buy a book from my link, Amazon will drop a few coins in my coffee cup. :)

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Visit The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in the next Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

About lovenotesmama

A love-struck mama, noting my journey into mindful parenting
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9 Responses to The Wonderful World of Children’s Books

  1. I’d love to start the Harry Potter series with my daughter too… though I wonder if she’s old enough. She’ll turn four in a couple of months. Thanks for your submission

    • Oh you should try the Harry Potter! I’m guessing it will hold her attention. She obviously won’t get all of it but I think she’ll enjoy what she does understand. What a world Rowling created! I’m in awe of her.

  2. Pingback: Beyond Reading: How Books Help Us Live and Learn « alivingfamily

  3. Pingback: I love books! And I hope my daughter does, too. | Old New Legacy

  4. We have many of these same books! I love that you included and talked about HUG. I think you are spot on with the emotions that can be described in one’s own language (since there are not words for it in the book). My daughter and I can take long minutes reading that book even though it only has three words in it!

    I’ll have to check out the Babybug magazine. I loved Highlights as a child. I was kind of sad when I got too old for them….wonder what the adult version of Highlights would be….I liked those search and find. Maybe I could make a magazine like Highlights for adults, with games and puzzles and…..

    One last thing. My 2.5 yo has just come to love Winnie the Pooh. We read this to her when she was three months old. I have been looking for Little House on the Praire and Wind and the Willows (found them in their logical hiding place). If you want/like to read these books then go ahead and read them to/with your daughter! I am finding myself surprised that I don’t have to wait for words. I have been giving my daughter books with lots of words (even “science” like books my mom got for her on thunder/lightening and caterpillar/butterfly). She can remember whole paragraphs! Not all the time, mind you, but it is amazing to me that I have so wrongly assumed and limited my vision for her ability.

    Isn’t it just the most wonderful journey, to share our love of books with our children?
    ~sheila

    • I think you’ll really enjoy Babybug. I fondly remember Highlights too! I loved those word searches! (I wonder if there’s an app for that, now..lol)

      OH YES, Winnie the Pooh. We have one Pooh board book that I LOVE. I never read this as a child (I don’t know why) but thanks for the reminder, because I would love to read this to my daughter. And you’re so right about them absorbing even longer paragraphs of text. Sometimes I think just listening to the rhythm and rhyme of reading really helps them, no matter the content.

      It really is wonderful to share reading with them! :))

  5. pamwhitlock says:

    I have four kids and all of them loved “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” by Bill Martin, Jr. The young kids can pick up the rhythm and words very quickly and it is easy to use the picture clues to “read” the story.

  6. fraurab says:

    As I read your post, it was so fun to notice all the titles that I’ve recently learned about while taking my daughter to the library! I recognized and have read most of them to my daughter. They are so much fun! I absolutely need to find Meg and Mog, I Love You Through and Through, Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, Bobo the Chimp book and the Babybug magazine series. Thanks for the suggestions!!

  7. Jennifer says:

    LOVE this treasury of a post!

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