When we become grandparents, a whole new world opens up to us, and we are so enthralled with this new little creation that we want to shower him/her with love. We fight for our turn to hold this sweet-smelling, angelic new addition to our family as we coo, gurgle, and make funny noises and faces at him; and yet we want to do more!
So we buy cute clothing, rattles and toys, and hopefully BOOKS!
Children are learning to communicate at birth, primarily to get their basic needs met, but also to satisfy their social needs, which we all have. As we sit and hold them in our arms while reading to them, they are hearing different sounds in words, they are hearing the changes in our tone of voice, they are hearing us give names and labels to objects in their environment, and they are associating the act of reading as a calm, safe, secure, happy, fun experience, that will hopefully set the stage for their future learning and a love of reading for their entire life.
As grandparents, we have a decided opportunity to help with their socialization and communication skills by reading to them when they are infants and hopefully continuing to read to them until they are well into elementary school.
If you step into the children’s section of Barnes and Noble, my favorite store on earth, you may be overwhelmed by the variety of books that are available, so I am going to share with you just a few of my favorites, but don’t let these restrict you! Pick books off the shelf, sit and read them, think about the child for whom you are purchasing the book, and then go home and enjoy them with your grandchild. Better yet, take your grandchild with you to the bookstore, or the library, and let her choose the books that interest her.
So, what are some of my favorite books?
by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle, is a classic. Your newborn will like the repetition of words and children in preschool will still enjoy it. The children in my preschool classrooms loved it! You might also enjoy Baby Bear, Baby Bear!
by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault was another favorite in my classrooms. It is an alphabet book, but fun to read and fun to listen to and the children enjoy getting involved.
by Alice Schertie and Jill McElmurry is also a favorite. A number of “Little Blue” books are available, and they are delightful, as Little Blue and his animal friends have a variety of adventures.
by Mo Williams. Elephant and Piggie are good friends and their books, like the Little Blue books, are many. These books are more for preschool and early elementary children. They each have a “message” or “lesson to be learned”, but the delivery and exchange between Elephant and Piggie is fun to read and children find them to be hilarious!
books are also always a favorite with children. They are silly books with crazy pictures and are full of rhyming words, which are a basic skill which children need in order to learn how to read on their own.
by Robert Kraus is a good book to gently remind all of us– children, parents, and grandparents– that we all develop skills at our own pace.
by Ezra Jack Keats and any other books by this author! You have to sit down and read one to get a sense of why children love them.
by Karma Wilson is one that I was introduced to at a conference just a few years ago, and instantly fell in love with. There are a variety of “Bear” books, and each one of them involves Bear and his forest friends cooperating and working together in some fashion.
by Karen Beaumont is another recent favorite of mine, and one that the children in my preschool classes loved for the rhyming words, the colorful pictures, and the crazy antics of the boy in the story.
No Matter What Book You Choose– Read, and Read Often!
Be sure to include books about emotions, so that children are taught from an early age that the emotions that they are feeling are okay, and to model for them how to express and deal with their emotions. A few of my favorites are: Harriet, You Drive Me Wild, by Mem Fox; the Llama Llama books by Anna Dowdney; I Was So Mad, by Karen Erickson; Will I Have A Friend, by Miriam Cohen; and Zen Ties by Jon J Muth.
These are just a few of my favorites, and remember, they are MY favorites. They won’t necessarily be your favorites or your grandchild’s favorites, but they are a start. I had a terrible time limiting my list to 9, because there are SO many more that I could have added to the list! Remember, too, that if you don’t enjoy reading a book, your grandchild isn’t going to enjoy listening to it!
The important thing to remember is to read to your grandchild every chance you get, whether it is books that you buy for them or books that you choose together from the library. As you read to them, you will be building a bond with them; you will increase their language development and their ability to eventually read on their own. You will be encouraging them to use their imagination; you will be showing them how a book is able to take them to far-away places while sitting in a chair; you will be helping them develop problem-solving skills as they see how problems are resolved in books; and you will be giving them an opportunity to see that even though we all don’t think the same way or have the same likes and dislikes, we all can navigate through this world harmoniously.
Patti Kameen has spent 35 years as a teacher in the public school system as well as in various private preschools. The past 15 years she has worked with infants, toddlers and preschool age children in Head Start. She recently retired so that she could spend more time reading with her three grandchildren.
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