Being a kid can be tough, and some days parenting can be even tougher. When you’ve told your kid a thousand times that hands are not for hitting or that sharing is caring, sometimes you need a little backup.
Reading is a great way to connect with kids on issues they’re struggling with, and to help them with those big life questions that leave you at a loss for words.
When my son was five, he went through a phase where his rudeness was beyond just forgetting to say “please.” I just couldn’t get through to him. During our nightly story-and-snuggle time, I read him a library book called Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins. It’s about a walking, talking pink-frosted cake who never says “please,” and never waits their turn in line. Finally, they’re kidnapped from their bedroom by a giant cyclops, who shows them how to do better.
Rude Cakes is so silly and outlandish, and the humour is what got through to my son; I could see that “aha” moment dawning on him as we discussed this miserable cake’s behaviour. I’ve used to books to spark conversations with my kiddo on everything from tough emotions to private parts.
Looking for just the right book to spur great conversations with your kids? Try some of these picks, or stop in and have FSJPL’s friendly staff help you find just the right book.
1. Teamwork Isn’t My Thing, and I Don’t Like to Share by Julia Cook (ages 5-10)
RJ is having a tough time sharing cookies with his sister, and his teammates on a school project are proving difficult to work with. RJ’s soccer coach helps him learn that “people who are good at sharing end up being happier than those who don’t,” and that sharing the work is good for everyone. This humorous, colourful book also has a helpful guide with great parenting tips. It’s part of a series that includes I Just Don’t Like the Sound of No!, But It’s Not My Fault! and many more.
2. What Do You Do With a Problem? by Kobi Yamada and Mae Besom (ages 5-8)
This beautifully illustrated book follows a boy as he struggles with a problem shown as a storm cloud over his head: “I didn’t want it. I didn’t ask for it. I really didn’t like having a problem, but it was there.” As he wanders, the problem grows until he decides to face it head-on, and discovers that “it had something beautiful inside. My problem held an opportunity!” This poetic story is general enough to be a starting point for conversations about a variety of struggles your child may face.
3. On Our Street: Our First Talk About Poverty by Dr. Jillian Roberts and Jaime Casap (ages 7-10)
This gentle, informative book answers kids’ questions about the reasons people may be homeless and what it’s like to live on the streets. Written by an expert in child psychology, it addresses a complex problem in a reassuring, age-appropriate way.
4. Goodbye, Grandpa by Jelleke Rijken and Mack van Gageldonk (ages 4 to 7)
After young Bear’s grandpa dies, Bear’s friends help him understand what death means and that “all he has to do is close his eyes and Grandpa will be with him forever.” The friends honour Grandpa’s life, share hugs and make a nod toward moving on by making plans to go fishing in the morning.
5. Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story About Gender and Friendship by Jessica Walton (ages 3-7)
Errol and his teddy bear are best friends — they play together in the park and push each other on the swings. But one day, Errol’s teddy is sad, and finally admits why: “In my heart, I’ve always known that I’m a girl teddy, not a boy teddy. I wish my name was Tilly, not Thomas.” Errol responds with an easy-going acceptance. He lets her know: “What matters is that you are my friend,” and they go on playing just like before. This warm and matter-of-fact story about gender identity and friendship is a gentle way to introduce transgender issues to young kids.
Looking for something fantastic and free to do this summer? Join Motion Commotion! There’s still time to enjoy the Summer Reading Club, which offers a jam-packed schedule of drop-in programs and parties for kids all the way from babies to teens! Mark your calendars for Super Mario Crash-Course Mini-Golf on August 13, and the SRC final party on August 22. The full schedule of events is available on FSJPL’s website.
Reach out to FSJPL at 250-785-3731, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or online at fsjpl.ca.
Amy von Stackelberg is a Circulation Services Coordinator at the Fort St. John Public Library.