As a a lifelong bookworm, I sometimes forget that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for books. I was genuinely surprised to read recently that the typical American only reads five books per year, and that a whopping 24% of Americans did not read a single book in 2014. While I can understand these statistics—becoming a parent has given me more sympathy for those who struggle to make time to read—I can’t help but feel a touch of remorse on behalf of these non-readers for all that they are missing. Reading is an inexpensive hobby that expands our minds and our imaginations, opens us up to new ideas, and allows us to travel through space and time from the comfort of our living rooms. Studies are even showing that reading (specifically literary fiction) can increase our capacity for empathy. How wonderful that such an enjoyable pastime can carry such great benefits, and how sad that not everyone chooses to take advantage of them!
I’ve written extensively of my desire for Charlie to share my passion for books, and reading together is already one of my favorite ways to spend time with him. At this point, Charlie is usually more interested in chewing his books than reading them, but it has still been fun to introduce him to a hobby that is such a big part of my own life. We certainly aren’t lacking for things to read: between the books we received at my baby showers, and the dozens of books my parents passed down from my own childhood, Charlie’s nursery is a veritable treasure trove of children’s literature. And if we ever run out of reading material, the public library is just down the street! I’ve been cycling through all of our books and reading new ones each day, but we definitely have our favorites. Here are a few of our top picks.
The Real Mother Goose, by Blanche Fisher Wright: I remember my parents reading to me from our Mother Goose Treasury when I was younger, and I now I read to Charlie from his own copy. Now that I’m an adult I have a somewhat altered perspective of some of the rhymes (many of them are a bit creepy if you know their origins), but we enjoy the fun illustrations and sing-song rhymes, especially those for which I know and can sing the accompanying songs.
Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You, by Nancy Tillman: This heartwarming book beautifully depicts the love parents feel for their children. (The book is also a powerful metaphor of God’s love for humankind, though I’m not sure if that was the author’s intention.) If you are unfamiliar with this book, make sure you have the tissues handy on the first read (and all subsequent readings; I’ve yet to make it through the whole book without choking up.) Nancy Tillman’s On The Night You Were Born is another treasured book within our collection.
Baby Lit Classics, by Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver: We received a boxed set of these classics from my good friend/college room mate who, in addition to being a mom, is also a school librarian. (Our copy of Wherever You are. . . was also a gift from her—she obviously has excellent taste in literature!) These adorable board books take classic titles such as Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, and The Jungle Book, and transform them into simple primers on color, numbers, sounds, and more. I absolutely love that Charlie is becoming familiar with classic literature while being introduced to basic concepts. Every one of these books is a winner, but my favorite is probably Moby Dick for the sheer fact that I never thought I could enjoy a version of that
horrendous overrated book!
Little Bunny’s Bible, by P J Lyons and Melanie Mitchell: Charlie received this snuggly book as an Easter gift from his grandparents. We own several versions of children’s Bible stories, but what sets this one apart is its plush cover, which essentially allows it to double as a stuffed animal. The book includes stories from both the Old and New Testaments, all written in a sweet rhyming text and accompanied by beautiful illustrations. This has been a great way to introduce Charlie to God’s Word.
Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch: No list of our favorite children’s stories would be complete without this classic book, which will always be my personal Number One. I’m apparently not alone in my adoration for this book, as evidenced by the numerous copies Charlie received at my baby shower! This was the first book I read to Charlie, and I sing the song to him every day. (And yes, I still cry every time.) If you aren’t familiar with this book’s backstory, check out this article about Robert Munsch’s inspiration for the story—you’ll never read the book the same way again. (As a side note, if you’ve ever wondered about the intended melody for the Love You Forever song, that link also includes a video of Munsch singing the lyrics from the book.)
If you are a reader, how have you worked to spark the same joy in your children? What are some of your favorite books to read with your little ones?