I'm not a parenting expert. If I were, there wouldn't be fingernail polish on my daughter's bedroom wall . . . or a fitted sheet in my garbage can that was cut by scissors. You'd also probably be dazzled by my children's perfect manners and impeccably clean finger nails.
But despite our mistakes and occasional dysfunction, I have discovered something that helps things go right. It softens moods and inspires laughter. It helps bind me to my children and helps them find common ground with each other.
What is this miracle, you say? Books.
I know it might sound silly or so ridiculously simple that you won't believe me. But it's the truth. I read to my children. A lot. And when I do . . . magic. They pile up, they snuggle in, they giggle, and they find commonality. A day gone horribly wrong can turn out miraculously right with the words of a simple, children's book.
I was thinking a lot about this today. I have several kids not feeling well. There are some high-stress health situations that we're battling. Moods were edgy. Fights were frequent. Until Avery walked up to me and placed a book in my lap. "Read book," she stated simply. I picked her up and put her in my lap. "Thank you," she smiled (her new, favorite phrase . . . which is a huge improvement from her fascination with shouting "butt crack" every time I changed her diaper . . . and yes, I wish I was lying). I started to read Snowmen All Year by Caralyn Buehner. In seconds, Haylee was at my side, giggling about the snowman learning to dive and swim in the pool. Then Tanner started listening. Even Hunter propped his head on the back of the couch to look over my shoulder. A good book changed everything for awhile.
On days where everything else goes wrong, sometimes I forget that reading a book together can help solve it. I'm trying harder to remember. So as I was thinking about this today, I began to smile about some of my kids' favorites and I wanted to share them with you.
1. No, David! by David Shannon
This book will always be a favorite in this house. My kids snicker with delight over David's shenanigans. They love him. He's real. He makes mistakes. And he's loved.
2. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
3. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff
We love all of Laura Numeroff's If You Give books, but this was my favorite as a kid and so it's the one I always read to my kids. And hey, it's good for teaching cause and effect too.
4. Not That Tutu! by Michelle Sinclair Colman
This is an adorable, little board book that my girls love. Taylor is obsessed with wearing her tutu (which they can totally relate to, I assume). It's Avery's favorite book, hands down.
5. Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
All of Karma Wilson's Bear books are excellent. My kids find every single one to be engaging. Plus, Jane Chapman is a fantastic illustrator, so there's that.
6. Mrs. Wow Never Wanted a Cow by Martha Freeman
7. Can I Play Too? (An Elephant and Piggie Book) by Mo Willems
Gerald and Piggie are favorites at our house. The illustrations are so expressive and really make the books great. This one is one of my boys' favorites. My 8 year old laughs hysterically every time we read it.
8. How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? by Jane Yolen
The dinosaur books are great. And funny. This is one of my personal favorites.
9. Corduroy by Don Freeman
10. Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow
I hope you and your kids can enjoy some of the same moments that we do as we read this books. And please, share your favorites with me! We're always looking for more great books to read together.Contains affiliate links.