Our kids love books. They love being read to and love reading.
We are not a big TV family: we have a single TV in the basement, but it is far from being a central hang out place in our home. Our kids’ TV time is limited to “family documentary or movie nights” about once a month … and occasionally a weekend morning cartoon if mom and dad need a little extra sleep in (though books, puzzles and colouring are equally effective for sleep-in allowance).
We do spend a lot of time outside (in the garden, on forest walks, relaxing on our DIY pallet couch and going down the luge track in winter), but and as the months get cooler, we tend to do more and more reading. It’s a great way to unwind and get in bedtime-mode. So when I say “what book are we reading tonight?”the kids excitedly take off to search for their selections.
Here are some of their (and my) favourites:
- HAVE YOU FILLED A BUCKET TODAY? by Carol McCloud
This book was gifted to us about 4 years ago. I read it to my daughter even when she was two. The colourful pictures and simple language were great for her to follow along and, even at a young age, both my kids really seemed to get the concept. The book is essentially about being a nice person (anti-bullying) and making the world a nicer place — even for adults, it’s a great reminder of how truly simple it is to be kind. My kids will often recognize when others are sad, or notice when something is going on that’s not so nice, and quite often they will take action (e.g. give a hug, pick up trash, explain in words, etc.) to remedy the situation (i.e. “fill a bucket”) – with no adult prompting.
Of all the qualities I hope for my children to possess in life (smart, strong, etc), being a nice person is a top priority for sure.
I also like to choose this book when anyone (even myself) is a little grumpy. It often helps us recognize our behaviour and transition to a more pleasant, healthy mood. [Note: this mood/behaviour transition is not a guaranteed effect from reading this book, but it certainly doesn’t hurt!] Reading this book together definitely “fills our buckets.”
- MAGIC TREE HOUSE SERIES by Mary Pope Osborne
When our kids were 3 and 5, we got into reading chapter books. My daughter was already a keen reader and although my very active 3-year-old son’s patience and attention span were questionable, he really took to them as well. Even long stories with little or no pictures. The key? — they have to be good stories.
We tried a few series that I was very disappointed in. I don’t have tolerance for characters who model nasty language and behaviour and I absolutely loathe repetitive story lines or too much princessiness (… yeah, totally a word).
And then, one day, while perusing the book section at Value Village, we discovered the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne. On our first Value Village trek we came home with books #1-5 (since paperback children’s novels are just $1.49 and when you buy 4, you get the 5th one free!). After reading the first few stories we were hooked. We returned to Value Village and and bought the next 17 books in the series!!! Jackpot!!!
I am so thrilled to have found these books. I mean who doesn’t want to read a story about siblings on magical adventures through time to become Master Librarians?!?! Even if that plot line doesn’t sound all that appealing to you at first, the amount of history and variety offered in these stories (all in a FUN, kid-friendly manner) is impressive. From Arctic exploration to tropical rain forests, Samurai warriors to ancient Egyptian mummies, these books keep me just as entertained as the kids!
And it helps that the main characters are essentially my children, with the genders reversed. My daughter really relates to Jack (the super-cautious and inquisitive note-taking big brother), and my son relates to Annie (the fantastically curious, intuitive risk-taking little sister). Plus, we just so happen to live near a “magical forest” ourselves where we go on our own adventures. I also love that these books encourage reading and learning by taking readers on a different journey with each book. Now, if only I could get my daughter to stop reading ahead so she doesn’t accidentally spoil the plot…
[One warning: Book #2 in the series, Mummies in the Morning, was slightly scary, even for me. So, maybe read it during the daytime or be sure to read all the way through to the end before bedtime so no one gets freaked out).
- DID YOU EAT YOUR VITAMINS TODAY? by Ena Sabih
Yeah, I’m sure anyone who knows me and/or reads my blog is not at all surprised to see this title on my list. I’m such a nutrient dork.
But honestly it is my KIDS who keep pulling this book from the shelf. They love to refer to it. For a while my daughter was bringing it out at every meal and going through a full vitamin check list to make sure our daily consumption was complete. This book was written by a local Ottawa author who self-published – pretty impressive! It’s so refreshing to read a book that focuses on naturally-occurring vitamin sources (whole foods!), rather than the propaganda generated from the processed food/supplement industries and associations. When you can explain to your kids what all these foods/vitamins do in your body, it helps them to understand what healthy eating really is and why it’s important.
The book also includes some fun activities, like a letter-search and a quiz.
So there they are – a few of our absolute faves!
Certainly there are others, but those are three I thought would be good to share with the world (… or at least with the half dozen people who might read my blog haha)
Kindness, imagination and healthy eating — three concepts I value highly for little brains (… and big ones, too!).