To the world, you may be one person, but to one person, you may be the world.
The books we read to our kids carry messages that impact them beyond what we can comprehend. That’s why books like the Dr. Seuss series are so popular.
Messages of encouragement, acceptance of others, love for oneself and of exploration are common themes throughout all Dr. Seuss’s book.
One of my favorites Horton Hears A Who. This book or the movie, if you’ve seen it allows us to question what’s beyond what we see. It allows us to be brave and believe in our own instincts and to be a leader rather than a follower.
It allows us to be brave and believe in our own instincts and to be a leader rather than a follower.
The movie was very entertaining. I especially enjoy the part where everyone is following the most influential person – Kangaroo.
It shows a clear representation of how easily people can put their trust on one person solely due to popularity or complacency to a routine.
But, there’s one other thing I pay close attention to when I select books for my kids or the ones I gift to others. I always notice the roles that the male and female lead characters portray.
First of all, the main lead is most often a boy. I find this problematic because it reinforces the stereotype that only males can be leaders.
Second, I pay attention to how femininity and masculinity are portrayed. Are the female characters delicate, quiet, needing of protection? Are the male characters risk-takers, violent or very loud?
These characteristics might not seem to be a big deal, but they reinforce what kids think of each gender. I try to find books that debunk those gender stereotypes like. Books such as Rosie Revere, Engineer or The Boy Who Wanted to Cook are perfect examples of what kids are really like.
As you might have noticed by now, not all girls love frilly, pink stuff and not all boys love playing with cars and G.I. Joes.
Third, I analyze the message. This is very important because there have been books that don’t really have a meaningful message.
For example, I read Love, Tink by Elle Strauss because I’m a huge Tinkerbell fan. But this book was a huge disappointment because I felt that it instilled the idea that it is ok for a girl to become desperate for a boy and that she should make huge sacrifices to include risk her life for a boy she THINKS she is in love with.
For kids who aren’t sure of who they are, storylines such as these can confuse them about what love is and what it takes to keep a meaningful relationship. Love, Tink also included the idea of fighting for a boy.
If you’re like me, I was raised to have dignity and never fight for someone who doesn’t want you.
These books can improve or shatter self-esteem and instill the idea of competing against another female to get what one wants. This idea is often seen in the workforce, meanwhile, we preach to kids that women should unite and form a sisterhood to help each other move up.
This idea is often seen in the workforce. Meanwhile, we preach to kids that women should unite and form a sisterhood to help each other move up.
Books can be the perfect tool to help a child understand complex ideas or definitions appropriate enough for their age.
For example, in my Embracing Differences (anti-bullying) program, I use books that help kids understand a clear definition of bullying.
I use the book called, Just Kidding to help kids learn about the difference of teasing v. bullying.
It’s also important to have a discussion with your child about the book you read with them. It’s ok to pause in the middle of the book and ask if he/she understands what’s going on.
Even better – ask if they know what’s about to happen. That’s how you can really tell if your child is learning to see patterns and if they can anticipate what’s going to happen in the plot.
You can also talk about the book after your child is done reading it – no matter how old or how mature your child is. Make it conversational and have fun with it! This will also add to your quality time and give you the opportunity to bond over certain storylines.
Make it conversational and have fun with it! This will also add to your quality time and give you the opportunity to bond over certain storylines.
If you’ve got no idea how to select appropriate books for your kids, I recommend using Google to search “books for XX year olds”.
Or you can use Amazon to read the short summaries. If you scroll to the very bottom, you’ll notice the “Product Details” section where you’ll be able to find out the age range the book is for and the ISBN (kind of like the social security number) for that particular book.
Often times, you’ll also be able to see if it’s offered in a different language. If it’s offered in a different language, it’ll have its own ISBN.
I didn’t know this until my kids started school, but there are many apps that you can use to scan a book to find out it’s reading level.
I also recommend using The Scholastics Book Fairs app or the Scholastics website.
You can also go to your children’s librarian at your local library or at your child’s school library as well as any bookstore for guidance and recommendations.
While reading can be a great recreational activity, you can make it very educational, not just academically, but morally.
Books can reinforce great family values and show examples of healthy relationships with others. Books can also teach kids to value themselves and learn to dream bigger.
The point is to be aware of what kids are reading about and that they’re understanding about what they are reading no matter what age they are. Kids are always learning and you should always know what ideas are being instilled in them however they might be getting to them.
Kids are always learning and you should always know what ideas are being instilled in them however they might be getting to them.
Do you have any book recommendations you’d like to share with us? Post them in the comments below.