The “Unsung” Favorites of Children’s Literature

Yesterday marked the beginning of Children’s Book Week, which according to the Children’s Book Council is

“A celebration of the written word, Children’s Book Week introduces young people to new authors and ideas in schools, libraries, homes and bookstores. Through Children’s Book Week, the Children’s Book Council encourages young people and their caregivers to discover the complexity of the world beyond their own experience through books.”

Throughout the week, there are celebrations planned in major cities across the U.S.A, and your local libraries and schools may be planning celebrations as well.

In children’s literature, there are classic books – a canon of sorts – that have stood the test of time and find a place in nearly every child’s library.  Timeless treasures like Goodnight, Moon, The Runaway Bunny, Guess How Much I Love You, Where the Wild Things Are, and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do See? are some of the standards most every child knows and loves. 

Yet browsing the shelves at your local library or bookstore proves there are hundreds of other wonderfully illustrated, charming stories that your children will find delightful.  How to choose?

If you have a few minutes, would you share with us your unsung favorite of children’s literature?  What is the book that has captivated your family but not many others seem to be familiar with? 

Of course, you can share more than one if you would like.  Sometime next week, I’ll choose from among the comments a person to send a copy of our family’s unsung favorite to – a book I’ll be telling a little more about next week.

I can’t wait to hear more about your family’s favorite children’s books!

Rainy Days: The Indoor Safari

rainydayWe are having an extraordinarily wet spring where we live, and I’ve had to reach deep into my bag of Mommy Tricks to find ways to pass the rainy days.  A few weeks ago, my preschooler came up with an easy and fun game that we have discovered has many variations: the indoor safari.

Her original idea was to go on a “bug safari” inside our house.  We got out a bag of insect foamie stickers and each of us hid them all throughout the house.  Since our shovels and pails were suffering from inattention due to many days in a row of not being allowed outside, we decided they would be perfect for gathering the bugs we found on our safari.

Everything is a race these days for my four year old, so we counted backward from ten and set off to try to gather as many bugs as we could find.  I enlisted the help of my toddler for my team, and she was thrilled to add bugs to our bucket.  (Even more fun for her was taking them out to re-hide them!)  Once all the bugs were collected, we met in the living room, dumped the contents of our pails onto the floor, and admired our finds.

First we played with numbers by counting how many bugs each of us had captured.  Then we enjoyed some categorization by sorting the bugs into piles of same colors and then into piles of same creatures.  When we finished that part of the safari, both girls had fun placing some of their bugs onto pieces of construction paper to display the results of the morning’s safari.

This is a fun activity that can take lots of different directions.  You could

  • find exotic creatures online, print and color the pictures, and cut them out and go on safari to find them
  • hide stuffed animals from your child’s collection and search them out.  Older kids might like to classify them by the continent they live on or by what kind of ecosystem they call home
  • cover animals with blankets in one room and let babies play peek-a-boo as a safari alternative for your littlest ones

Okay, moms and dads of Simple Kids – let’s hear from you!  What is your favorite rainy day play?  Please share your idea here and you may find it featured in an upcoming edition of our Rainy Days series!

Photo by Flora

Bathtime Meditations

bathtubfun1

Bathtime is an important part of our evening ritual.  For both of my daughters, time in the tub signals the end of the day, and they know the pouring and splashing and washing and rinsing will soon give way to pajamas, storytime, and lights out.

Now that my girls are older, I bathe them together every night.  This works nicely for me because they love to play together in the tub, and I find I can bring a magazine, book, or my daily docket for the following day to keep me occupied as I sit closeby to supervise the bathtime play.  While this does offer some much-needed wind-down time for me, it occurred to me a few weeks ago that bathing the girls could also provide me with just a few minutes to be mindful in my end-of-the-day connection with my girls

What does a bathtime meditation look like?  Here are three ideas to get you started:

1. Prayer
As I bathe each daughter, I might say a simple prayer like, “Thank you, God, for these sweet little feet.  May they carry her to exciting places to do life-changing things someday,” or “What a blessing this chubby cheeks are to me.  May her smile be an encouragement to everyone she encounters.”

Even if you aren’t a participant in organized religion, you might think of ways to speak positive thoughts over your children as you spend a few mindful minutes bathing them.

2. Gratitude
Whether your child is six weeks or six years old, I think it is important to model gratitude.  You might say something like, “I’m so thankful we got to go to the library today!  We have so many new books to read!” or “I am so thankful for the visit from Grandma and Grandpa.  They love you so much.”

As your children get older, encourage them to offer their own words of gratitude and appreciate for the day.  The things my four year old comes up with to be thankful for always bring a smile to me.

3. Affirmation
This is particularly important to me at the end of the of a day that has been filled with more tears than giggles and more correction than encouragement.  My oldest daughter when through a phase where one hundred was absolutely the biggest thing she could imagine, so I might say something like, “You know, I love you ONE HUNDRED!”  Or I might tell my toddler, “Even if you marked on every wall in every house on every street, I would still love you so very, very much.”

Sometimes we get silly and say things like, “I’d love you even if your elbows looked like your knees and you had horsey breath!” and “If your hair looked like a rainbow and your nose looked like a blueberry, you’d be my most favorite rainbow-haired, blueberry-nosed person in the whole world!”

Now certainly, there are evenings when I really do just lose myself in the glossy, perfectly put-together pages of Martha Stewart Living or enjoy a few precious minutes with pen and paper and no one trying to grab them from my hands.  And yet some evenings, it really works for me to turn the time spent kneeling beside the tub into a mindful, intentional, reflective celebration of my daughters and our day.

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photo courtesy of Ernst Moeksis