I’ve always been a big reader. I remember being about 12 or 13 and bringing a book along with me every time we set foot in the car for so much as a five minute drive down the street. I still love to read, but I don’t have the same amount of time to devote to it as I used to; don’t get me wrong, if the right book comes along, I’ll pretty much let the house fall apart around me as I consume it as fast as I possibly can; I just can’t do that as often as I’d like.
So of course, I hope to foster a love of reading in my son as well. To help achieve that end in a way that doesn’t break the bank, we’ve been making weekly trips to the library. My town library has a great children’s section set off from the rest of the library, which means the kids are free to be kids without offending the other patrons. My son’s favorite part is the reading nook with squishy chairs and lots of puppets.
Here are five of our choices from our most recent library trips and how we feel about them.
1. Horton Hears a Who: I picked this one because my son had watched the movie at his Auntie’s house not long ago, and he seemed to enjoy the story. When we first started reading it, I thought it might be a little too long for a two-year-old, but he actually seemed to enjoy the story and listened until the end. So it seems to be kid-tested. As far as mother-approved, I also enjoy the story and appreciate Horton’s desire to protect his little Who-ville friends. The message of protecting all life and using your strength to look out for the little guy is sincere and important. Of course, one could also read into this and see it as a pro-life message. While I am strongly pro-choice, I have no problem exposing my son to pro-life ideas as I believe that he should be able to make his own decisions about his beliefs as he gets older. Plus either message is most likely lost on him. He just thinks the elephant is neat and the Whos are cute.
2. Yertle the Turtle: Another Dr. Seuss great that follows a typical Seuessian rhyme scheme that keeps my son happy and engaged through another book that might be a little on the long side for him. Again, the pictures of the animals keep him entertained, and he most likely just likes to see the turtles all stacked up and then falling down. But again, as a parent, I can appreciate it for more than its rhymes and cutesy animals. This one has a message that I am fully behind: All creatures, great and small, deserve freedom from tyranny and the right to autonomy. Again, this message is likely lost on kids, especially one as young as mine, but hopefully the message of freedom for all will sink in over time.
3. Where the Wild Things: While this one has no underlying political or sociological message, the illustrations and simple text are just lovely. For the first week we had it, my son loved it and happily gobbled it up. He does seem to be getting bored of it though. He randomly flips through the pages lately and he’ll stop me halfway through. But he seems intrigued by Max and points to him and says “Max” as he and the other wild things hang from the tree branches. So this one is neutral, there’s no hidden message for the parents to consider, and my son is hit or miss with it, but one can’t deny that the illustrations are fantastic and the simple story is a lot of fun.
4. Is Your Mama a Llama? This one I really like. I find the rhyme scheme fun, and my son really enjoys it. The illustrations are simple yet rich and help the story unfold. I think it’s cute that the llamas at the end of the story both have double “L” names making it more obvious to little kids that they are part of the same family. My son is entertained by it as well and requested it as his good night story tonight.
5. Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too? I don’t like this one, and my son seemed bored by it too. We have several Eric Carle books that he usually really enjoys (Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? among others). But this one is too simplistic. Each page is the same question over and over again with only different animals for variety. The various illustrations and the idea of each animal having a mother (just like human kids) isn’t enough to keep my son entertained. He flipped through each page before I could even finish reading the text. I found it boring, and I think he did too.
So those are some of the books we’ve checked out recently. We’ve also been reading lots of “when mom has a baby; you’re becoming a big brother” type of books. He likes the ones that have pictures of real babies, which I like because I feel like it will better prepare him for what a newborn looks like and what they do (which from his perspective is nothing interesting).
If you don’t visit your local library, I highly recommend it. It’s such a great resource for families and it can help to create a whole generation of readers, not to mention foster a sense of community.