Read to Your Kids, Dammit

Read to Your Kids, Dammit

I thought I had gotten over the initial shock of Friday’s tragedy in Connecticut.

I got busy making cookies in the kitchen, enjoying one of my children’s holiday concerts, going for a run … all the things I would normally do. And … then I saw that photo tonight of President Obama hugging and smiling little kids in Connecticut. Little kids who lost a brother or sister. The sadness and sweetness of the moment was overwhelming. Made me want to jump in my daughter’s bed and snuggle all night.

Not for nothing, but I’m a big believer in the healing power of books. I’m not talking all mystical, New Age, balance-a-book-on-your-head-while-sniffing-your-toes healing power. It’s a lot simpler than that. Books are the gateway to open and honest discussion with your kids. Present a scenario in which they can relate and maybe, just maybe … you’ll hear about the tough day they had at school, or the new friend they made, or a call for advice when trying to solve their most pressing problems on the playground.

In the wake of another school shooting—following a temple shooting, a theater shooting, a congressional representative’s shooting, and not to mention the shootings that grace the front page of our local paper nearly EVERY DAMN DAY—if snuggling and reading a book is a path to conversation about emotions, good and bad, and how to problem solve, then I say read to your kids for as long as you can. Books may not change the world, but they can change your kid. Here are a few really good ones that focus on feelings, what they mean and what to do with them:

The Giving Tree

Shel Silverstein’s classic opens all sort of doors to conversations about friendship, love, loyalty and even abandonment.

Today I Feel Silly: And Other Moods That Make My Day

Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell write kick ass books for kids, and this is one of my favorites—a perfect way to open the door to talking about how emotions make us tick, and that even the not-so-good feeling ones are important to experience, too.

The Kissing Hand

Duh. Even I need this Audrey Penn must-read once in a while to make it OK to head out into that scary, scary world on the other side of my front door.

Edwurd Fudwupper Fibbed Big

I’m a Bloom County fanatic, so I grabbed this Berkeley Breathed book years ago and still love it. If you’ve got more than one ankle biter in the house, this is a great read to share—it’s nice to know that once in a while, your sister or brother really does have your back.


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