Reading books with your children is one of the best things you can do for their emotional, intellectual and social development. While all children’s books are not created equal, many are rich with content that will help you reinforce and expand upon your family’s values. Here are a few all-time favorites and some tips on how to seamlessly integrate a discussion about values into the reading of a story.
The Big Green Pocketbook
This delightful book written by Candice Ransom and with pictures by Felicia Bond (the illustrator of the popular, “If You Give a . . .” series) is a charming story of a little girl who goes to town with her mother to run some errands. The simple story line is rich with values that create a wonderful springboard for discussion. Throughout the story, the little girl demonstrates obedience, manners, patience and appreciation for an act of kindness. Even in the face of disappointment, she provides a wonderful example of self-control. Observing her behavior and choices throughout the story will help you highlight them for your children.
Apple Pie for Dinner
This story (by Susan Vanhecke) contains a unique illustrative technique called mixed media collage. The main character in the story is a grandmother who wants to make an apple pie, but has no apples with which to do so. She sets out with a basket of plums and through a series of trades (with items that meet the needs of those she encounters along the way), she ends up with a big basket of apples. The story line is a great example of the benefits of generosity and compassion and beautifully exemplifies the point that giving is simply a different form of receiving.
This classic children’s story by Don Freedman never gets old. A charming bear needs a home and a lonely little girl needs a friend. Together, they meet each other’s deepest need for companionship. This story provides parents with a wonderful way to reinforce the importance of friendship and the value of not judging others by outside appearances.
This is a fun book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal about a little spoon who wishes he was something more important like a fork or a knife. He longs to be a more useful utensil only to discover that he is, in fact, very important and there are things that he can do that no other piece of flatware can. It will give you an opportunity to have a discussion with your children about their unique gifts that make them special. It provides a perfect opportunity to point out that contentment comes when we accept who we were made to be.
The Runaway Bunny
You are probably familiar with Margaret Wise Brown’s more widely known, Goodnight Moon, but this story has a simplistic yet tender message: true love is unconditional and not dependent upon behavior or circumstances. It is a great reminder to parents as well. We need to love our children for who they are rather than what they do.
Curling up with your children and a good book can be an enjoyable experience for all. Using the time to reinforce what you value can make it even more special. Look for opportunities to do the same with the books that line your bookshelves.