Friday, May 29
By way of Seven Quick Takes I’d like to share seven reasons I read to my children. Nothing earth shattering here. Just some thoughts on what I have learned over the years.
I read to the little children in the family because I need them to sleep. Right around the age of five, our kids really fight taking a nap, and to be honest, they probably don’t really need a nap when I’d like them to nap. What I mean is, they aren’t necessarily tired at noon, but if they don’t take a nap at noon, they will be cranky at three and four and five and we all know what happens when you let a five year old fall asleep anytime past three o’clock in the afternoon. They will.not.ever.fall.asleep.at bedtime. I don’t do this every day, but a few days a week, I will coax the five year old to lay down in my bed and I will read and read and read until she falls asleep. Today she said, “I know you want me to take a nap but I AM NOT TIRED so I am not going to get into your bed and listen to you read.” Seven minutes later she was sleeping soundly and the whole family will thank me for that precious slumber later today when she doesn’t have a meltdown to end all meltdowns.
Sometimes reading to little ones is the only thing that will get them to snuggle up with me and sit still. A book with large pages, colorful illustrations, and a story that will keep their attention is the ticket to some quiet snuggle time with anyone four and under. It may not last long, but sometimes I’ll take what I can get.
On my most trying days of parenting, when I find myself in a bad mood, unable to muster a single kind glance or gentle word, reading a book to a child is all I can do. I know this sounds a bit sad or harsh, but I have hit some pretty low points in my parenting career when cheerful and giving and loving like the Blessed Mother are just not happening. These are the moments when, if I resist the temptation to flip on the TV and go cry myself to sleep on my huge pillow, all the anger, sadness, resentment, frustration in the world can be dissipated in an instant. A cozy couch, a good book, or seven, and a child who needs nothing more than the sound of mom’s voice reading a story and mom’s hands holding the book, and somehow peace comes to the house.
Reading to my children is the easiest way for me to teach them things. I try to purchase books (or request them at my public library) that are going to make my children’s imaginations come alive. I want them to learn about nature and animals, food and flowers, history and science, saints and the catholic faith.
The more the little ones are read to, the better their vocabulary will be. And later, when it’s time to start writing, their minds will already be filled with characters, plots, and settings. The ability to write a story comes more easily to a child who has been read to from the time they were babies.
Over the years, I have collected dozens of books. I buy them used on Abe Books or on Amazon, and I’m always requesting that grandparents, godparents, and aunts and uncles give books instead of toys for Christmas and birthday gifts. Our books are divided according to season. As soon as the leaves start to change in the autumn, I pull out all the books having to do with the change of seasons. This happens about six times a year: once for each of the seasons, and during Advent and Lent/Christmas and Easter. I love reading seasonal books to the children because someday, the stories from their childhood will come to mind when they are off in their own corners of the country or the world, celebrating the seasons and feasts with their families.
Reading to my children allows me to be a kid again. I have a distinct memory of my mother reading to me, snuggled up together on the couch on what we used to call “the sun porch.” My favorite book was Little Brown Bear. I loved the sound of her voice when she read to me. I loved looking at the illustrations and staring at her hands, and feeling her heartbeat. When I read to my children, I recall those special times and I hope someday they will too.
So! Here is a mother load of books appropriate for the summer months. Enjoy! And please, if you have a book list on your blog or if you just have a book that is a family favorite, leave a link or a title in the comment box. Thanks!
The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Audrey and Don Wood
Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McClosky
Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm by Alice and Martin Provenssen~Every one of our children loves this book. It’s silly and funny and looooong – the perfect book for getting that five year old to take a nap.
It’s Summer! by Linda Glazer
Summertime in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Summer Solstice by Ellen Jackson
Summer by Gerda Muller
These books will be the easiest science lesson you’ve ever read to your children, even if you never go to the beach! And if you are going to the beach this summer, pick up the last one on this list. My 7-10 year old’s love it!
Seashells by the Seashore by Marianne Berkes and Robert Noreika
What Lives in a Shell by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld
Seashells, Crabs, and Sea Stars by Christiane Kump Tibbitts
Science in Seconds at the Beach by Jean Potter
Let It Shine by Maryann Cocca-Leffler
A Day at the Seashore by Kathryn Jackson
At the Beach by Anne and Harlow Rockwell
Good Night Beach by Adam Gamble
Flower Fairies of the Summer by Cicely Mary Barker~There is a collection of poems for each of the four seasons. My daughters love these books. They’re small and pretty and they teach so much about different varieties of flowers and the seasons in which they bloom.
The Night Before Summer Vacation by Natasha Wing~There are several of these “Night Before” books, and this is the first one we have purchased. It’s a funny book. The ten year old on down to the five year old love it.
Mama, Is It Summer Yet? by Nikki McClure~Oh my goodness, these illustrations are so very beautiful and I love the color palette. The five year old really enjoyed looking at the details of the illustrations and figuring out what season it was on each page.
Mouse’s First Summer by Laura Thompson
These are the kind of books that are full of illustrations and information. I sometimes read the abbreviated version to the younger kids, but the older kids love to just lay in bed and read all the fine print until they fall asleep. They are all written by Dianna Hutts Aston with beautiful illustrations by Sylvia Long:
The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant~If you’re taking a road trip to visit family
Man on the Moon by Anastasia Suen~To celebrate the anniversary of man’s first walk on the moon: July 20th
I Love My Daddy by Sebastien Braun~Father’s Day
When I Grow Up by Leonid Gore~Father’s Day