While most of the reading we do is for pleasure, I am not above blatantly using books to teach lessons to my children. I prefer books with a subtle message (Bread and Jam for Frances) versus an overt one (How Do Dinosaurs Say I’m Mad?), though I’ve used both. I have been pleasantly surprised recently to find my oldest two have picked up valuable life lessons on their own from books we picked up purely for entertainment. I mentioned a few weeks ago how a lucky find at the library is helping my preschooler deal with her fear of the dark. Here are 4 more lessons they’ve picked up from books without any help from me:
Hard work can be fun. Last summer, my then seven-year-old listened to every single Boxcar Children mystery he could find. While he was listening to The Guide Dog Mystery, he started telling me that he wanted a job to work on because Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny think it is fun to have work to do. To be fair, he has always liked to help with Saturday projects, but The Boxcar Children reinforced the idea that hard work can be fun.
Summer fruit is best when you pick your own. When we went to pick strawberries earlier this month, my four-year-old kept saying we were going to take them home and can the fruit for the winter. It was almost halfway through our picking trip before I realized that she was quoting parts of Blueberries for Sal. As I listened with that in mind, I caught her using other phrases from the book as she knelt down and picked berries next to me. (And just like in the book, most of her berries ended up in her belly and not in her bucket.)
Talking about a lost pet can heal the heartache. I picked up Love That Dog to read as part of our poetry unit in school without having read the book myself. I got more and more nervous as the book progressed because I could see where the book pretty early on. Our sweet dog had died just a few weeks before and the pain was still very fresh. I kept a close eye on their reactions as we worked through the book, and I was so pleased to see that Jack’s grief seemed to give them the vocabulary and permission to talk about their own loss.
When someone you love is sick, bring a blanket and a book. Being sick as a mom to little children is no fun. (Who am I kidding? Being sick is never any fun.) Ever since reading A Sick Day for Amos McGee, my kids know exactly what to do when Mom is down with a cold. Thanks to Amos, everyone is okay with the idea that I’m not up to racing around the house. We grab books, blankets, and lay on the couch for a day of rest.