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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Any ABC book. Pip’s currently obsessed with Dr. Seuss’s ABC: An Amazing Alphabet Book!
- Any touch books, like the That’s Not My… Usborne touchy-feely board books, and Sara Gillingham’s “In My…” series Kids love touching different fabrics and textures (so do adults)!
- Any lift-the-flap books, like Fisher-Price Little People Farm or any of Karen Katz’s Board Books
- Belly Button Book, by Sandra Boynton, This was especially popular when Pip was just learning how to speak. Belly buttons are endlessly entertaining, and the fun “bebo” is an easy word for kids to say. Plus the book has Boynton’s quirky sense of humor, much like another favorite, Blue Hat, Green Hat.
- Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star: And Other Favorite Nursery Rhymes (Padded Nursery Rhyme Board Books)A book of nursery rhymes with charming illustrations and some textured pages. A nighttime favorite in our house.
- Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown The classic that started Pip’s love affair with the moon. There’s a gentle cadence to the text in this book, and a lot of everyday objects a child can recognize. This book actually gave me the idea of what I do to help Pip if she’s stressed at night: I find simply chanting “goodnight ___” to the various people and things she knows helps her focus and calm down for nighttime.
- I Love You Through And Through A sweet book about all the different ways “I love you,” from “your insides” to “your mad side” to everything in between. We’ve had fun with this, enacting our “sad sides” and our “silly sides.” We even used “your insides” to ask Pip to open her mouth at the doctor’s.
- Tomie’s Baa Baa Black Sheep A simple nursery rhyme, or something more? A beautifully illustrated book by Tomie dePaola (whose Strega Nona’s Harvest book I can’t wait to read with Pip). We rented this book from the library, but Pip loved “Baa Baa” so much, we had to buy our own copy just so we could return the library copy on time.
- Meg and Mog A silly witch and her spells. Pip knows this one by heart.
- Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes The sweetest book to melt any parent’s heart
Here’s a list of books I look forward to reading with Pip when she’s older:
- The Little House Series
- The Wind in the Willows
- Tuck Everlasting
- The Ramona Collection, by Beverly Clearly
- Harry Potter Series, by J.K. Rowling
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. :)
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:
- Books and Play — MudpieMama at The Positive Parenting Connection is sharing a fun play based activity that enhances reading comprehension, vocabulary and attention.
- Using Literature to Talk with Your Child About Money — Pam from The MoneyTrail Blog shares her 12 favorite stories to initiate conversations about money with your child.
- Reconnecting Through Reading — Reading aloud with our children has its many rewards, from increased vocabulary and reading skills to creative thinking and problem solving skills. At Living Peacefully with Children, reading is also a time to reconnect at the end of the day.
- It’s a Book Party — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares a fun way she encourages reading at her house.
- The Importance of Storytelling — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses the importance of storytelling as well as how to select a book worthy of reading with your young child.
- I Love Books! And I Hope My Daughter Does, Too. — Becky at Old New Legacy shares ideas and experiences in her attempt to raise a bookworm.
- The Wonderful World of Children’s Books — Carrie @ LoveNotesMama shares her enthusiasm and adoration for the joys and gifts that children’s books bring.
- Books, Have They Become Obsolete? — Laura at Authentic Parenting investigates wether there’s still room for books in this modern world of internet and digital readers.
- Books and Unschooling a Preschooler — Lauren at Hobo Mama follows her four-year-old’s lead through mummies, digestion, and whale sharks.
- Beyond Reading: How Books Help Us Live and Learn — Sheila of A Living Family describes how, more than helping her children learn to read, books help her family live and learn together.
- Once Upon a Time, There Was a Princess With a Career Plan… — Helen @ zen mummy wonders how – and if – the tales our children hear influence their future