As I was preparing for this blog post, I wanted to understand more about kids, reading, literacy and all of that good stuff. I ran across a blog (that shall remain nameless), and the writer was talking about how important it is for kids to be exposed to reading from an early age. This person wrote how kids aren’t reading and it’s ALL THEIR PARENTS FAULT! She (or could be a he) then went on to describe ten ways that she (or he) ensures that her (or his) kids are always reading, how it’s helped their language skills, and how intelligent they are.
Jeez! I felt small, and I’m 6’6”. We parents should stick together. It’s hard work, and I think we’re all trying to do our best.
All of a sudden, I had a massive anxiety attack. I hope that my blog posts never come across as all-knowing and/or superior. I have to get this out of the way before I continue. I hope we can all agree that I’m an imperfect Papa that walks the parenting path with about as much grace as Parker did when he was learning to actually walk. My hope through any of my blog posts is to share where I am in life, what I’m struggling with, and what I’ve learned hopefully (sometimes I’m a slow learner). I make mistakes, try my best, and pray (now meditate) in hopes that Parker makes it through another day safe and sound. So, anyone who is reading this has full authority to reach through the computer and backhand me if any of my posts ever come across the way this person’s did. Deal? Cool.
Now, back to this week’s post. I was so incredibly lucky to grow up in a family of educators. They taught me that learning is fun and there is a great big world to explore through books. I didn’t have many plans when we officially became Dad & Papa. I left most of that stuff up to Travis. But, one thing that I was pretty adamant about was that we would read to Parker each morning and night (and one of those books had to be an ABC book). I know. I’m coo-coo (as Parker sometimes says). We even have visitors read to him. Anyone who spends the night at our house, get ready - you’ll be reading.
Now, here’s one insider secret. Remember, I’m an introvert and spend the majority of my day locked inside my own head. So, reading is also a form of conversation for me. Originally, I had no clue what to say to this little creature, and I was scared sh*tless when we brought him home from the hospital. Reading was an easy way for me to “talk” with him.
Wow. That was a long winded, winding, a probably confusing way of saying, “reading is cool and a pretty important thing in our house.” Sorry about that. So, this week, I thought I would share some of the books on our current reading list (and why we love them). More importantly, we’d love to learn your favorite kid books, so don’t forget to comment on Facebook or the blog. That way we can can pick up some new material the next time we are at Barnes & Noble.
Giraffes Can’t Dance (by Giles Andreae & Guy Parker-Rees)
This book was given to us by our dear friends Gill and Leonie. They give us lots of advice, and if anyone deserves to be all-knowing about parenting, it’s them. They could host a flawless dinner party for 30 while potty training their twins in the middle of planning a trip around the world right before they learn a second language. They’re that good. And, they’re just great parents. Anyway, we ADORE this book. It reminds us that every person has amazing and incredible gifts to share with the world. Awkward can be beautiful, and we all have greatness inside of us. We just have to find the right song.
*I’m tall, often bumbling and can’t dance, so in all honesty, this book might be more for me than it is for Parker.
Harold and the Purple Crayon (by Crockett Johnson)
This book was given to me by our awesome friends Kelly and Beau. I mean, c’mon, Parker’s first name is Harold. How could this not make the list? This book was first published in 1955, and it seems to be a timeless masterpiece. If you’re looking for a way to help your kid see that they can create their own story with just a little inspiration, creativity and a crayon, then this book is it. It also reminds this stay-at-home Papa that we don’t have to go to every music program, circle time, gym, story time, toddler class available. Sometimes, we can just stay home and play with our crayons.
The Family Book (by Todd Parr)
We’re infatuated with all things Todd Parr. He gave me some advice when I started my blog, and he's a genuinely nice guy. Plus, he's talented beyond words. This book in particular is perfect for our family. Also, it happens to be one of Sandra Bullock’s favorite books. And (in my head), she and I are best friends and our kids have play dates all of the time. I’m not kidding. I mean it. Not joking. Seriously. If I had a magical purple crayon, you’d totally see how super close we are. Back to the book. In the most adorable and approachable way, this book celebrates all of the different kinds of families that exist. It’s a definite must for any adoptive, divorced, bi-racial, straight, gay, two parent, one parent family. Basically, any family.
The Lovables in the Kingdom of Self-Esteem (by Diana Loomans)
Through delightful affirmations and charming characters, kids learn to embrace their unique gifts and place in this world. Loomans exquisite insight and thoughtfulness will definitely help Parker gain confidence and appreciation for himself and those around him. Who couldn’t use a little more self-esteem? I wish I would’ve had this book in those supremely hard junior high years. Actually, this should be required reading for any kid entering the dreaded puberty phase. I think I’ll call the schools now. In all seriousness, this book is one of my all-time favorites.
All the Ways I Love You (by Theresa Trinder)
This is one of those “recording” books, and my mom recorded her voice reading to Parker. So, for that reason alone, it’s on the top of my ultimate fave list. If that’s not reason enough to love this book, it actually has an wonderful message. This definitely teaches Parker that he is loved, unconditionally. No matter how quiet, loud, frantic, calm, brave or fearful he may be — he is loved. And, that’s all I ever want him to know. And, I want him to have a little piece of my mom with him no matter where he goes in life.
Dr. Seuss’s ABC (by the Cat in the Hat) - ok, just checking to see if you're still reading.
One of my requirements for Parker’s daily reading is that he has to have an ABC book. While I love the A is for Activist book that our friends Emily and Terri gave us (we’re going to raise a liberal like it or not - go Hillary), I have so much fun listening to people read this Dr. Seuss book. You never know how someone is going to pronounce things like Fiffer-feffer-feff, and I cherish those moments when I can sit outside of his room and listen to family and friends read this story in their own unique way. It’s like a new story every time, and it’s a blast to hear. When I see Parker sitting with someone reading this book (or any book really) that’s my Norman Rockwell (gay dad) moment.
These are just a few of the books that Parker will be reading in 2016. We have many favorites, which means there's more to follow. Up next, Parker will talk about some of his favorites. *Spoiler alert. It’s anything with trains (of the Thomas variety). He got the coolest magnet one from my friend Tery this week. He's anxiously awaiting his opportunity to guest post on the blog. Dad’s also compiling his list of best sellers. And, they're some good ones. Stay tuned.
What’s on your list? We’d love to know! Comment below, or on Facebook.