Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Book in Times of Need?

Now before I say more, I am not a counselor. I never have been and, as far as I can see into my future, I never will be. But I was a First Grade and Kindergarten teacher (Prep and Year One teacher if you are Australian :) and I do know a thing or two about little ones. Children are amazing, but they are not miniature adults. And life often throws up difficult, frightening, confusing or even terribly sad events. Children lack adult powers of reasoning, they don't see cause and effect the way we do and if they can't explain or understand something they often blame themselves. They also often struggle to explain what they are feeling or thinking or just embrace the fact that they are feeling anything at all. This is where the secure nook of a parent's arm and a trusted listening ear can make all the difference. Books are wonderful things. Period. But have you thought about using them with the intention of opening up conversation and speaking into difficult life events that your child might be going through?

The circumstance doesn't need to be particularly stressful in the eyes of an adult for it to rock you little dude's world. While you may be over the moon about another baby on the way, your child may have distinctly different feelings. Now if there are any psychologist/counsellors etc who want to weigh in on this issue then by all means, please do.  My point is simply that books provide a wonderful and gentle world for exploring feelings and events that may be completely confusing or even traumatic to a young child. 

Helpful Books
So I thought I'd list a few favourite books that I have read to both my own children and classes I have taught over the years. Beware... oh the wonderful and heartfelt discussions you may invite :)

Expecting a New Baby?

There's a House Inside my Mummy by Giles Andreae and Vanessa Cabban (Australian picture book)
Laugh out loud stuff! If you have ever wondered what a mother's growing belly and the experience of waiting and preparing for a new baby might look like  through the eyes of a three year old, then this is the book for you. Your children will love it too.

If I had a Dragon by Tom and Amanda Ellery
Having a new brother can be a difficult adventure. And perhaps a dragon would make a better play mate? So far my boys are enjoying being the 'dragon brothers' and I don't breathe fire too often!

First Day of School?

Starting School by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
A must read for tentative children and perhaps the odd tentative parent??? :)

Loss of a Grandparent or Other Relative?

Old Pig by Margaret Wild. 
Heartbreakingly gentle tale of the death of grandma pig. A beautiful story celebrating living, yet honoring the sadness of loosing a love one.

School Yard Bullying?

Just You Wait By Megan de Kantzow
A tale of standing firmly on your own two feet. I read this to my son when he was afraid of a particular boy at his school. We used the characters in the book to role play what he could do or say if he felt threatened.

Don't Fit In? Feeling Just a Little Bit Different?

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon (Australian picture book featuring fruit bats)
A fruit bat raised as a bird naturally feels a little displaced. This story embraces friendships across the boundary lines of differences. And along the way lovable Stellaluna learns to both accept and challenge her limitations.

Recovery from illness?

How do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
A playful tale that might open up discussion about taking medicine, visiting the doctors or just a great story to cheer up your little one when they are unwell.

Feeling Something, but Not Sure What?

How are you peeling? Foods with Moods by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers.
Funny stuff that could lead to serious conversation surrounding feelings. Identifying the various feelings of the different foods might be a non-threatening way to broach the topic of what might be going on with your child. My son enjoyed talking about why the various foods might be feeling the way they were feeling and what things in his life have made him feel that way. Great discussions :)

Tough Boris by Mem Fox

Yes boys can cry! Even pirates cry... and so do I.

Augustus and His Smile by Cathrine Rayner. One tiger's search for 'happy' and the simple things Augustus finds along the way that make him smile. A beautiful book of hope that might open up discussion on what it means to be happy and look after ourselves.

Of course there are so many other situations that arise in life and the titles I have listed are really just a few books off a much larger bookshelf, if you get what I mean :)

So, What About You? 
Any experiences with your little ones and a beloved book to share? Got any other great titles to suggest?


  1. I want you for a mommy, Tabitha!

  2. What a wonderful, wonderful, list. My kids are well grown and I have no grandkids (yet), but this is a fabulous list. And I so appreciate your explanation of why each book is valuable for parent and child.

    Straight From Hel

  3. You make a great point here! Books do provide the perfect opportunity to help our children grow. I had never thought of it that way.

  4. These are AWESOME. We also like the Llama Llama series, and the Elephant and Piggie series.

  5. Hey, Tabitha! It's nice to meet you!

    This is a great idea! The titles alone make me want to read these books! I'm sure you're right; that they are really helping in teaching children!

  6. Thank's I need some of those for my own kids! I love the library and it brings back such fond memories for me but the titles i'm usually looking for aren't there. I def. want to get my hands on some of the ones you've mentioned. It looks like I'll have to hit Amazon *sigh*

  7. Great list. My daughter and I read How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon last year and she really loved it. Then she started asking where babies come from--that was more of a challenge to find a suitable book for :)

  8. What an awesome list, Tab! Love it! I've used the baby books with my children before bringing a new baby into our home, but hadn't thought about that with other situations. Thanks!

  9. There's a House Inside My Mommy? I'm just LOVING that title!

  10. Thanks all for your lovely comments. I am glad you thought the list might be useful:)

    And thank you Karen, that made me smile.

    Carrie, I will have to check those books out. I haven't heard of those ones.

    Cindy, I didn't think about the 'where do the babies come from?' book list. I actually have a few of those so...maybe I'll post on that another day.

  11. Welcome Kristin. Glad to have you here:)

  12. I haven't heard of these or used a book, yet.
    :-)But I definitely would if a situation cropped up.
    Great post Tabitha! :-) Your little guy is adorable.

  13. Stellaluna! Oh, I have such a love for that book!

    Let's see...there's this great picture book for older (4-5 grade) girls called My Secret Bully. It's so good and opens up major conversation about the way girls treat each other.

  14. Thanks for the book recs, these are great!

  15. Thanks Jess :) Yes adorable and oh so naughty :)

  16. Katie, great book hey:)

    No problem, Fiction Groupie.

  17. If a day came where I ever had a kid these sound like some fantastic recomendations. I will pass this list along to my best friend who is mom to twin 1 year olds (in 3 days!). Thanks :-]

  18. What a great list. I love anything by Sharon Creech, Mem Fox, Chris Van Allsburg, Patricia Pollaco, Kevin Henkes. Their work always teaches with amazing story. Henkes' Julius, Baby of the World is one of the best books ever to introduce a new baby to the family, or at the very least to help parents laugh during what could be a difficult transition.

  19. Hey Tab - Thanks for this list - I have printed it off for future reference. I will email it along to my Mothers Groups too. Your little nephew is addictd to books and wakes up pointing to the bookshelf, screams if he doesnt have a book in the car to read, and spends his whole day passing books to mummy to read him....must have got it from you! XXX