I’ve long been a proponent of the Picture Book.
They are, for most kids, their first experience with reading. On the lap of a parent, the cover opens to a new world outside the nursery that lives in their emerging imaginations. Babies and toddlers are learning that reading isn’t just an action but an opportunity for exploration, bonding and understanding.
It is that opportunity for understanding that also makes the Picture Book a parenting tool. We can teach kids lessons through books that are hard to put into words but on the pages of a favorite story can be clear as day. As a parent, my children’s bookshelf is not only empowering them as readers but also teaching them (and us as parents) to handle life today. Here are a few examples:
- Exclamation Mark is one of my favorite books to come out recently and hits on a key message for both of my kids – It’s OK to be different.
- It is also no secret that we love Giraffe’s Can’t Dance. The lesson here is a simple one – Try! and Believe in Yourself!
- Sometimes I’m Bombaloo and Grumpy Bird have also been important tools to help my kids, at the headstrong ages of 1 and 2, to deal with emotions that can sometimes be overwhelming and hurtful. To know that others are, at times, grumpy or angry is comforting but also to see them learning to calm down or cheer up helps my kids do it themselves. (Lydia, like Bird, is very fond of ‘taking a walk’ when she’s frustrated these days.)
- I’ve also been very intentional in reading books to my kids that teach the value and definition of family. As a family with two dads, the books on my kid’s shelf reflect a diversity of families, from the traditional family (albeit with a big red dog) in the Clifford stories to the wealth of families show in Monday is One Day. We also, of course, love the book And Tango Makes Three as it reflects the formation of our own family (in penguin form.)
- Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born is another book that reflects my family situation as both of my children are adopted. Even though Exclamation Mark is teaching that it is OK to be different, it is also a powerful identity builder to know there are others who share your situation.
I am sure my list will grow with my kids. In the meantime, I remain, a huge fan of the picture book and would love to know what lessons you’ve taught (or have been taught) by them!