(Photo courtesy of Christopher, Flickr Creative Commons)
Happy early Thanksgiving (to my American readers)!
The crisp, cool weather is finally upon us and with the shorter days, I have found we’re spending lots of our indoor time reading. No complaints here!
Here are a few of our favorite reads lately, books for both children and parents.
Processing the arrival of a new baby:
These three children’s books are beautiful with the most tender story lines. I had to do some digging and searching, but I finally found books that embrace the grief, anger, and sadness sometimes surrounding a new sibling. We parents might initially think it counterintuitive to bring up these difficult and messy feelings with our children, arguing “why impose those emotions on our child?” But, what I’ve learned from the wisdom of RIE is that one, those feelings are often already present in our child, maybe not visible, but they’re there; and two, all feelings, even those we might label as “negative,” are valid and acceptable. Reading books about the challenges of adjusting to a new baby can provide an indirect and non-threatening way for a parent to open up a conversation with their child about how he/she is feeling with a new baby at home.
Daniel’s Dog by Jo Ellen Bogart tells the story of a young boy, Daniel, who feeling a bit lonely and left out as he watches his mother fuss over his new sister, invents an imaginary canine friend, Lucy, to keep him company. What I most love about Daniel’s character is how this experience propels him to reach out and comfort his friend, Norman, who is also feeling sad and lonely because he misses his dad.
Most of you probably recognize Ezra Jack Keats as the author of Snowy Day. In Peter’s Chair, Peter is confronted with numerous changes to his environment because of his new sister. Frustrated that his crib and high chair are now being used for the baby, he runs away from home. What I love about this book is that his parents understand Peter’s frustration and refrain from forcing him to feel a certain way or to accept his new sister. They simply give him the space he needs to process the changes.
I was brought to tears the first time I read Too Small for Honey Cake.
Little Fox is angry at the inconvenience of his new sibling: he must be quiet while playing and watch as his father’s attention is directed elsewhere. Anger, sadness, grief and loneliness are all emotions that fill the pages of Gil Lobel’s sweet story.
“CRASH! Little Fox knocked his castle to the ground. ‘Wah! screamed Baby Fox. Waaaah!’ ‘Oh, dear,’ said Daddy Fox. ‘Now you’ve woken him up.'” The father neither reprimands nor shames his son.
“‘Baby foxes are all wah-waah!’ [Little Fox] said. ‘They can’t play at anything. Baby foxes are stinky!’…He gave the cupboard door a good kick, sat among the cobwebs, and thought Very Bad Things. ‘Stinky-pooh-baby!’ he shouted. ‘Put him in the bin!'” I love the raw honesty that Little Fox’s character portrays. His dislike for the new baby isn’t avoided or ignored.
“‘Hello,’ said Daddy. ‘I’ve just taken a honey cake out of the oven, and I’m missing my Little Fox so much.’ ‘You’ve got Baby Fox now,’ Little Fox whispered. ‘I know,’ said Daddy. ‘But I need my own best Little Fox, too.'”
(Cue tears streaming down my cheeks.)
If E. could read only one author, it would be Marc Brown. I recently scored a lot of 19 used copies of Arthur. It’s basically all she wants to read. She loves the characters so much that they regularly show up in her imaginary play. I’m thinking Arthur-themed birthday party?!
Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson also wrote The Whole-Brain Child, which I highly recommend. Both books help parents understand the “…link between a child’s neurological development and the way a parent reacts to misbehavior.”
From the authors: “We’ve written [No-Drama Discipline] for anyone who cares for a child and is interested in loving, scientifically informed, effective strategies to help children grow well.”
And, I love this point from their introduction to the book:
What is the goal of discipline? The word “discipline” comes directly from the Latin word disciplina, which was used as far back as the eleventh century to mean teaching, learning, and giving instruction….These days, most people associate only punishment or consequences with the practice of discipline….We decided that we want to reclaim the word “discipline,” along with it original meaning. We want to completely reframe the whole discussion and differentiate discipline from punishment….[W]henever we discipline our kids, our overall goal is not to punish or to give a consequence, but to teach….Essentially, we want caregivers to begin to think of discipline as one of the most loving and nurturing things we can do for kids. (p. xvi)
I’m about half-way through No-Drama Discipline, and I’m finding it to be a great introductory book for parents interested in learning more about respectful parenting.
Emmi Pikler was a Hungarian pediatrician in the 1930s and 40s whose work with the orphans in Lóczy influenced the work of RIE found Magda Gerber. Unfortunately, most of Pikler’s writing aren’t translated into English. Fortunately, they can be read in Spanish; so, I was able to read this wonderful book, Moving in Freedom, in which Pikler outlines her work on natural gross motor development with the infants and children at her orphanage. If you’re curious what is meant by natural gross motor development, I’d encourage you to read an excerpt from Pikler’s book Peaceful Babies – Contented Mothers here. Pikler observed that although children reach milestones at different times, they all eventually learn how to roll over, crawl, sit, and walk if given the time and space to move freely.
Although I mostly read non-fiction, I am finding a few minutes every day to read a page or two of this beautiful novel. Somehow I never read it in grade school and I’m so glad I decided to dust it off and give it a chance. I think it’s actually a really appropriate piece of fiction for parents; it touches on issues of city life, poverty, education, school, and a young girl’s coming of age.
The holidays are fast approaching. Need gift ideas for the children in your life? Check out this article from Wired.
Check out this short talk from Carol Black (the creator and writer-producer of the television series The Wonder Years and Ellen) on alternatives to schooling.
I loved this recent piece in The New York Times about “anti-helicopter parenting” and letting kids PLAY!
Did you see the recent changes the American Academy of Pediatrics made to their recommendations on screen-time use and young children? For children between the ages of two and five years old, “…AAP recommends no more than an hour a day of screen use.” (!!!!) I was pretty sad to read about their revisions. Interested in what the research really says about screen time and infants/toddlers? Check out this interview with psychologist Meaghan Owenz.
Any book or article recommendations for me? Drop me line! I’d love to hear from you!