I was so fortunate as a young mom to have older, more seasoned moms to look up to and ask for advice — whether it was my own mother, friends, or mentors. But as my girls got older, my desire changed from merely getting practical advice to getting wisdom — the kind of wisdom that comes from mothers who have walked the path before you. It’s funny that, fast forwarding to now, I have found myself in that seat; the one where I’m able to impart wisdom and advice to new and young mothers. I blinked and no longer am I in survival mode (most days!), but I’m in a season where I can share what has worked for our family in hopes that it will encourage another. Today I want to tell you why it’s a good any worthy endeavor to want the best of the best when it comes to books for your children.
Just as we want the best foods for our children’s bodies, we should want the best for their minds.
I’ve long had the mindset that if I am going to take the time to read to my children, I want it to add something positive to their minds or hearts. Worthy of their time and mine. When I compare the books that are front and center in our libraries, book fairs, and on Amazon to the classic books I read growing up and have read to my girls I see a big gap. Where many (not all!) of the books published today lack in rich syntax, richer stories, and noble characters, the classic children’s books that fill the bookshelves of my home have all of those components in spades. And isn’t that what we want to read to our children? Stories that pique their curiosity, encourage their imaginations, and expand their vocabulary? Is that not one of the best gifts we can give them? It’s the “why” behind our Classic Children’s Summer Book Club, sharing timeless treasures with families so they can enjoy both old and new books!
It’s good to have high standards for the content that comes into your home.
Pop culture and cartoon character books are fine, but I have found that those often just retell a movie or t.v. show they’ve already seen. If you want a child to really love reading it doesn’t happen because they recognize a cartoon character on the cover, but because of the good story inside. And so many of the classics are good not because they are old, but because they have good stories, many with beautiful illustrations that help tell that story!
And when I say classic children’s literature, don’t let that intimidate you — these are stories you grew up with, and books you probably already own! Beautiful stories like The Black Stallion, Paddington, The Tales of Peter Rabbit, and so many more well-known tales that broaden their horizons. Our children should have the opportunity to experience adventure stories, fairy tales, short biographies, and different eras of history. It’s beautiful stories like these that encourage their imaginations, enrich their vocabulary, help them stay children a little longer and leave them hungry for more good books.
“Reading up” to your children will help them down the road in school.
I’m going to let you in on a secret: Reading quality books to your children only helps them down the road in school. Whether old or new, reading books with more complex sentence structure (i.e. more than 3-4 words to a sentence) and broader vocabulary will help set a firm foundation for their educational journey. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep reading to children even after they can read, but read above their reading level. The stories you read to them now — yes, even at bedtime — will allow them to be able to comprehend so much more as they navigate English and literature in middle school and high school. Another reason to be be intentional about the books you are reading!
So this is my prompt to encourage you — no matter where you are on your motherhood journey — to take a look at the books in your home. Pop-culture characters are all good and fine. But what about the classic tales? Why not give them a go, if even for a season, to see what a difference it makes? They’re classic for a reason, after all!
If you need a place to start, I’d love to have you join us in our Classic Children’s Summer Book Club. You’ll get a list of more than 80 classic and new high quality children’s books when you join that are a fantastic jumping off point (and available at your local library). We also share so many tips for introducing theses books and making reading an enjoyable experience.
And if you have a favorite classic children’s book, please share below! I’d love to know.