I feel like I've learned a lot about how to encourage my kids to love books, especially great books, and I wanted to take a few posts to share some of my thoughts. Any time you delve into parental advice-giving it has the potential to be a nasty can of worms. So, I hope the book recommendations and thoughts on encouraging a love a reading are helpful. I'm not trying to make out like my way of doing this will work for everyone.
In Be Excellent! I talked about how not all books are equal. I believe it is important to surround your children with high quality books. But great books do not have
a separate section in the bookstore or library; it takes some effort and
critical thinking on our part to find them. So, how does one go about finding the gems amidst the stones?
When I finish reading a book to my children that we all
really enjoy I run through a series of questions to think critically and
analyze why. I’m so used to doing it at this point that it just comes
Some questions might be:
Were the illustrations particularly beautiful or
unique? Or was it the plot? Picture books that make you think are a
special treasure. Did the book flow well
because of the rhythm and rhymes?
Rhyming is a fantastic tool to help children anticipate and guess what
is going to happen next. Perhaps it was
a combination of several of these things.
When we happen upon a great book, we usually check out a
second by that author on our next library visit. Often, we have just found a
new favorite set of books! Sometimes we end up only liking one book by a
particular author. For example, we love Goodnight
Moon and Two Little Trains by
Margaret Wise Brown. But Little Fur
Family? Not reading that one again!
I’ve also found some great resources to help me locate
twaddle free books. I love the extensive
lists of great picture books through high school age in both Honey for a Child’s Heart and The Read-Aloud Handbook. I recommend parents owning a copy of each.
The Internets have a wealth of recommendations as well, although I’ve found
that it requires a good bit more effort on my part to follow up on these books
since anyone can post on a blog or review a book.
It is really important to remember that you do NOT have to spend a lot of money on books to surround your children with excellence. We are also blessed to have extremely helpful and personal
librarians who are great at suggesting new books. The public library is a fantastic resource, especially for moms with young kids.
I am constantly logging on to the library's website to request books from other libraries in our system. This makes our time at the library so much more enjoyable (I can focus on playing with my kids and reading to them instead of needing to find some good books!) and I know that when I get home I'll have a few "winners" that came highly recommended. Word of mouth among parents is probably the best way to find great new books! When we discover a new book we love I find myself recommending it to
How are you likely the book recommendations on each post? I hope you have been able to find some new favorites!
Favorite Fairytale and Whimsical Books
Cinderella by Max Ellenberg
This is our favorite version of Cinderella. Beautiful illustrations and a few twists from the iconic Disney version. Both my daughter and son love it.
Hans My Hedgehog: A Tale from the Brothers Grimm adapted by Kate Coombs
This is a not-so-grim adaptation of a Brothers Grimm story. More fantastic illustrations and a longer story that is still great for little ones.
Grandpa Green by Lane Smith
Follow the story of "Grandpa's" life through the eyes of his grandson...and his garden.
There's No Such Thing as a Dragon by Jack Kent
I remember reading this book when I was little and now it has captured the hearts of my children. If there's no such thing as something, you can't tell it to get off the table!
Princess Hyacinth by Florence Parry Heide
This poor princess has to wear a heavy crown to keep her from floating away. Perhaps fans of George MacDonald will find the story similar (I did!). Also brilliant illustrations by Lane Smith.
New York's Bravest by Mary Pope Osborne
Of the Magic Tree House fame, this is a wonderful tall tale about Mose, a New York City fireman. My son says, "New Ork's Bravest by Mary Poke Osborne!"
The Opposite by Tom MacRae
In the same vein as There's no such thing as a Dragon, this book features an uninvited guest. Very clever book and a favorite with my 2-year-old especially.
Too many more....I have to stop for now!
Part 1: Readers Are Made
Part 2: Be Excellent!