Listen & Learn
Often times the bad things in our lives are easier to point out than the good. Flaws, imperfections, things we’d fix. I think the same goes for our bookshelves. It’s not too terribly hard to point out bad books especially once you know what to look for – you can read this whole post on bad books and how to know if you’ve got one. However, it requires more critical thinking to indicate the good. Maybe it’s leads back to gratitude, or maybe it comes down to how many people are so cynical and critical that identifying a positive is almost exhausting. Regardless of the reason, it only seemed fair that if I spelled out exactly how to identify a bad children’s book on your bookshelf that I teach the indicators that you’ve found a great children’s book on your intentional bookshelf. That is the motivation for this post – because let’s be real – finding a book that totally fits and aligns with your bookshelf and your family is quite amazing.
A quick little anecdote because I can’t help myself. Here’s how I feel when I find a great children’s book that is just so in alignment with our bookshelf and for our family:
- That feeling when you go to get a single ice cream cone and it’s buy one get one free.
- That feeling when you just had a 4 hour massage.
- That feeling when you have a personal butler that makes you coffee in the morning just the way you like it.
- That feeling when you walk into an air conditioned store when it’s 100 degrees outside.
- That feeling when you slip into leggings after wearing jeans all day.
Those are exactly how I feel when I find a great children’s book for our collection. Pure and utter happiness. Because ultimately, our intentional bookshelf is what helps us as parents – so when I find a book that’s a total knock out? Sign me up. Now, how can you, too, relish in the glory and happiness of a great children’s book?
5 Clues that you’ve Found a Great Children’s Book
1. When your child asks to read the book for the 100th time you do so with authentic joy.
I think we can all agree, children love to push us to our breaking point with repeated activities. One of the most notorious activities is reading the same book over and over again. If the book they love is one that you for the most part loathe…this may not be a particularly joyful experience. And frankly, that makes sense. Books that capture your attention as well as your child’s are surely great children’s books.
The benefit of you also loving the book is that the likelihood that you are more actively present during the reading process is much higher. This is huge.
Our children see exactly how we interact with them. They notice when we’re skipping pages in their books, when we’re glancing at our watch or our cell phones or when we’re generally distracted or bored. Feigning interest will work most of the time, and isn’t necessarily a flaw – but if a book provides a genuinely positive and engaged reaction from you – that is the more desirable book over the “meh” one.
2. The book relates to one of your most core and central family values, interests or cultivating qualities.
This point is very important. The main thing I tell parents time and time again is that the books that have the privilege of being on your bookshelf really should align with either your family values, interests, the qualities you’re cultivating in your children or have some situational relevance to your life now or in the upcoming future.
When you find a book that so clearly aligns with one or more of these things – it is like a parenting gift from the publishing gods.
They’ve taken something very complex – like empathy – and compressed it into a simple, easily digestible story for your child. These are the books you want to make sure you kiss and hug and never let go of.
Just like clue #1 mentions, children love to read books over and over and over again. How amazing would it be if they love a book that aligns exactly with the central ideals you’re instilling in them. Talk about reinforcement!
3. You recommend the book to your favorite people.
If you find yourself casually mentioning said book (like the one I always mention – Be a Star Wonder Woman) in a conversation with one of your favorite mom or dad friends, you may have scored a great children’s book.
You’d never recommend a book that you didn’t absolutely love, right?
A key part of friendship is helping each other out, so when you find a book that rocks your bookshelf and you know a friend shares that same value or loves that topic and you recommend a book – it’s a good indication that this book belongs on your shelf.
4. Your child begins to comprehend the main message of the book.
I think this clue is an extreme indicator that the book you found is not only a great children’s book – it might be one of the legendary books for your collection. One of the – if not the main – points of curating an intentional bookshelf for your family is to help convey important messages (like your core values, interests, qualities – see clue #2).
If your child begins to actually comprehend and respond to the teachings of these books, possibly even applying their knowledge in their life, you have a great children’s book in your hands.
I can clearly identify one of our great children’s books because of clue #4 – Please Mr. Panda by Steve Antony. One quality we want to cultivate in our daughter is good manners and politeness (this really leads back to a family value of ours – respect). Reminding my daughter constantly to say please and thank you wasn’t necessarily not working it just wasn’t showing the results as quickly as I wanted to see them – and with a level of understanding beyond “this is what mom and dad want me to do and say”. However, as we started to read Please Mr. Panda over and over again, the message started sinking in. Now, Addison says please almost all the time – and when she forgets, it’s as simple as reminding her “what does mr. panda expect you to say?” and she immediately puts two and two together and says please!
The joy I felt the first time this whole process happened was amazing. I knew right then and there that this particular book was not one we would be letting go of anytime soon – in fact, we’re now eyeing Steve Antony’s other book Thank You Mr. Panda for the same reason.
5. The thought of this book catching on fire brings a tear to your eye.
Clue #5 is a bit hyperbolic, but the truth lies within the fact that there is a personal connection to this book (and therefore to your children). I think of my daughter’s books as the way I connect with her, the gateway to conversation and communication beyond the words I can speak through my own lips. There are certain books that I know we can’t possibly let go of because of the deep connection we have to them, and therefore to each other.
If you tried to catch our copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle – beaten down as it is – on fire, I would definitely shed several tears.
There is something about the physicality of a great children’s book that makes the connection with your children and as a family into something tangible. A representation of the love and relationship with your family members. If you’re experiencing that level of connection to a book, I’d say you definitely scored a great children’s book for your intentional bookshelf.
So the real question is – do you have a great children’s book in your collection? Do you have several?
I hope you do! If your bookshelf isn’t filled with several of these excellent pieces of literature (or perhaps nothing but) I highly recommend you work through the free 7-day #reclaimyourbookshelf challenge. Weed out the books that don’t fit your intentional bookshelf so you can make the space to grow a home library filled with meaning – books that are great and grand and give you all the feels. The children’s books that make you feel like you’ve just finished dancing to your favorite song while you snuggle your little. Those books.
Sign up below to #ReclaimYourBookshelf