My girls love books.
They like to stack them and chew on them and look at the pictures. They like long books and short books, rhyming books and poetic books, silly books and serious books.
I bet we read 20 books or more on an average day.
Lately, my husband and I have noticed that our almost-3-year-old is like a little sponge, absorbing knowledge as fast as her little mind will allow. She asks intelligent questions. She ponders things. She memorizes books and enhances her vocabulary. She picks up on the subtle messages in text and in pictures.
For this reason, I want to be intentional about providing her with books that teach positive lessons. Nonsensical books are fun too, don’t get me wrong. But books that instruct are appreciated in a different way.
Martha Doesn’t Say Sorry by Samantha Berger, illustrated by Bruce Whatley (Little Brown & Company, 2009)
This book ought to win a literary award. The text is captivating and so very fun to read a loud. The pictures are unbelievably adorable. The message is profound without being pushy. Martha – a rotund otter in a pink dress and matching headband – learns that it is important to say “I’m sorry” when she does something that is…”not so nice.” My almost-three-year often chooses this book and asks us to read it to her again and again. I, for one, am glad. It is superbly illustrated and written with care – and I am positive that my daughter is taking the message to heart. If you buy only one new book this year for a 1-5 year old in your life, this should be it.
Digby Takes Charge by Caroline Jayne Church (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2007)
Digby, a talented sheepdog, is brought to a farm to herd six sheep into a pen. “Easy-peasy!” he thinks. But the job turns out to be harder than expected. Those stubborn sheep will not be moved, despite Digby’s hair-brained and ridiculous attempts. He tries growling, shouting, driving a tractor and a tank, and flying a helicopter. In the end, however, only one thing will work. The sheep cooperate immediately when Digby uses the “magic word”…please.
My one hesitation with this book is that the word “please” is only described as a “way to get what we want.” I would have appreciated the tale more if the emphasis had been on courtesy, respect, and making others feel valued rather than on selfish motivations. That said, my daughter does enjoy reading it and laughs at the dog’s crazy antics throughout the text.
The Sneetches And Other Stories by Dr. Seuss (Random House, 1961)
This hardcover treasure features four stories. The Sneetches teaches tolerance – and emphasizes the fact that outward appearances are overrated. The Zax shares the importance of compromise. Too Many Daves is a short tale about individuality. What Was I Scared Of? talks about standing up to your fears (and perhaps realizing that your fears may be unwarranted). All of the rhyming tales are ridiculous and over-exaggerated, yet they still manage to be instructive in the midst of all of the silliness.
Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss (Random House, 1990)
Oh, the Places You’ll Go is a classic Seuss story that is sure to give kids confidence to pursue their dreams. Although a bit on the longish side for preschoolers, the book has a fabulous message about choosing your destiny, picking yourself up after being derailed by obstacles, and finding success through entrepreneurship and innovation. Told in spectacular Seuss fashion, the book includes zany illustrations, made-up words, and kooky text. And will you enjoy it? “Yes! You will, indeed! (98 3/4 percent guaranteed!)”
Manners Always Matter book set (Publications International, 2005)
The Manners Always Matter book set features 10 miniature paperbacks: Let’s Be Friends, Be Patient, Let’s Share, Play Nice, I’m Sorry, Please, Thank You, Excuse Me, May I Help?, and Be Honest. The thin, tiny booklets all feature the same characters: Puppy, Hippo, Kitty, Mouse, and Mrs. Hen. The books are lacking creativity and are rather boring, but – surprisingly – my daughter really likes them. I think the “morals” are obnoxiously obvious – “As Hippo learned, being honest always works out for the best.” But my daughter doesn’t seem to mind. And, I am 98% sure she know says, “May I…?” when she asks questions as a direct result of these books. I am not complaining at all about that.
YOUR TURN: Do you use books to teach manners and morals?
WIN IT! One winner will receive a copy of Digby Takes Charge ($14.99), The Sneetches And Other Stories ($14.95), Oh, the Places You’ll Go ($17.99), and Manners Always Matter set ($10.99). To enter, leave any topic-related comment on this post prior to Monday, September 7th at 11:59 p.m. (Don’t forget to follow the rules…all generic comments like “Enter me!,” “Love it,” and “Cool stuff!” will be disqualified.).
*UPDATE* The winner is #90 jessica c. Congratulations!