Introducing my newest idea: Mondays are for the Millennial Mothers (and dads too. And aunts and uncles, grandparents and friends. It’s just more alliterative this way…) We are raising kids at the start of a new millennium. What are we doing? What are the challenges, old and new? Are we different from, or turning into, our own mothers?
Post a reply or a link to your millennial musings in the comments (Your musings don’t have to take the same form as mine. Go wild…)
This week’s topic: GREAT BOOKS TO READ WITH/TO KIDS
I’ve been reading aloud to my own children for five years now, and longer to other people’s kids. It strikes me that some books that ought to be good are actually pretty awful when you sit down to read them out loud. And others, little unassuming books, turn out to be great fun to read.
Sometimes it is to do with the pictures, sometimes the language just drips off your tongue deliciously, sometimes they make your kids laugh themselves silly, or they make you cry, or they send a little one to sleep. Here are some books that I love for one or all of those reasons.
GOOD NIGHT, MR. NIGHT by Dan Yaccarino
Given to me as a baby shower gift, along with a plush Mr Night, who glows in the dark and has been A’s faithful bedtime boy ever since. The artwork is gorgeous, the story lyrical and gentle.
MOUSE MESS by Linnea Riley
A rhyming story (love them!) about a mouse who messes up the kitchen after the house’s people have gone to bed. Stylized art, humour and a bedtime at the end. Fun for children to point out all the household objects and foods.
SNOOZERS by Sandra Boynton
Seven short stories (OK, six and a song) in one book. Classic Boynton: humour, surprises, counting, silliness, fun. (I put my children’s names into “I’m Too Tired”: instead of “little bear” I say “A-bear” and “G-bear”)
MR POTTER’S PIGEON by Patrick Kinmonth and Reg Cartwright
All Mr. Potter wants is for his homing pigeon to win a race. Gentle story, quite a lot of words on each page, beautiful art. Good for kids who can listen to a longer story.
THE HOBBIT by J.R.R. Tolkein
Once they’re ready for Roald Dahl (“Danny the Champion of the World” is my fave, but “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” is a good intro) they’re probably ready for “The Hobbit”. The language is dense but so well crafted that it is a joy to read aloud. Seems to keep my 5 year old interested.
Some classics do hold the children’s attention: Pat The Bunny (but not the money-grubbing sequels), Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, Corduroy…
And don’t neglect non-fiction. Dorling Kindersley do a great line of factual books full of bright pictures. You can read the words or skip them and just talk about the books. I have boys, sons of a scientist, so I’m not sure if this is universal, but they do love these kinds of books.
And now for the dishonourable mentions.
There are some books that I just hate to have thrust at me. The Thomas The Tank Engine books and Beatrix Potter books are badly written and dull. The TV tie-in Thomas books are full of meanness with one page of revenge at the end — not what I want to teach my boys. Even the more modern ones are just weird, with some pages rhyming and others not.
TV tie-ins in general are pretty ropey and I’ve learned to avoid them, with the exception of The Backyardigans ones, which are OK.
Funnily enough, these were the books my mother never read to me, because she hated them too. I thought she was being awkward, but I’ve come to realise that she was justified.
OK, your turn: what are your gems and your ‘only good for straightening a wonky table leg’ picks?