It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Read it again!!!

Parenting (stop me if you’ve heard this) is not one long sunny journey of laughter-filled days. Though of course it has its joys, and of course, creating a happy, functional adult is the ultimate reward, there are lots of exhausted bits, frustrating bits, and stretches of tedium.

One of those, books, comes early. We know books are good for kids. We all probably genuinely enjoy reading. So you take your precious bundle into your lap just about as soon as they can hold their head up, and you start reading to them. Mommy or Daddy’s voice, a warm lap, the comfort of your arms around them. Reading a book is like a great big hug! OF COURSE they will learn to love reading!!

But at first, of course, they can’t read. At first, they have to be read to. (And you may certainly continue that long past the time they can read on their own. I have many warm memories of chapter books read to school-age children, the whole family a cuddling lump of happiness.)

When they are teeny infants, you choose the book, you read the words, you talk about the pictures. You laugh as an excited, dimpled hand swats the pages. Then you choose another book.

Then they become toddlers, and they still love to be read to. So you choose a book … and they loudly object. “Not that book! THIS one!!!” and hand you “Snoofy and Bumpus Learn to Wipe their Bums”. You do not want to read Snoofy and Bumpus. You have read Snoofy and Bumpus every damned day for the past three months. You have even read Snoofy and Bumpus more than once each day. In fact, you know that were it not for a few tantrums (yours) you would have read Snoofy and Bumpus fifteen times back-to-back every day for three months.

You hate Snoofy and Bumpus. You are also harboring serious doubts about your child’s sanity, or at least her intelligence. You have no doubts at all about her literary taste: It stinks.

We can talk some other time about ways to deal with this Common Parenting Challenge, but today we’re going to try to take a more positive approach. Today we are going to list books that we honestly don’t mind reading many times.

Perhaps not many times in a row. Adults, we all know by now, are sorely lacking in attention span, at least when compared to their obsessive-compulsive toddler. But a book you don’t mind reading daily. There are such books!

… Or maybe I’ve just been hanging around toddlers so long they’re starting to rub off on me. Possible. But I do have a few books that I have read literally hundreds of times down the years, and I still enjoy reading them. Seriously.


Are You My Mother? Lots of opportunity for a dramatic read in this one, and though some of your more delicate flowers might find it a bit fraught if you pour on the emoting too convincingly, it’s a great read.

Hippos Go Beserk! I love the rowdy rhythm of this book. Just love it.

In fact, Sandra Boynton makes it to my list more than once, with

Blue Hat, Green Hat
But Not the Hippopotamus (Real opportunity to teach empathy and talk about social exclusion, in very simple terms)
The Belly Button Book
The Going to Bed Book
Moo, Baa, LaLaLa
Barnyard Dance.

From Head to Toe, by Eric Carle (So fun to see a bunch of toddlers try to wiggle their hips. Because of course you do the actions as the book is read!)

Something from Nothing. There are two stories going on at once in this beautifully illustrated book, one of the boy and his wonderful blanket/coat/vest/handerchief… and one of the mice who live under the floor at his grandparent’s home. Lovely story, lovely to look at. Beautiful book.

I’m sure there are more. I have not been reading the same handful of books for decades, but those will do for a start. How about you? What book(s) can you read repeatedly without pain? Share, please! Every parent needs a bunch of these!

September 11, 2012 Posted by | books | , , , , | 19 Comments