I fail in a LOT of ways as a mom. Among my myriad of weaknesses, I'm not naturally good at getting on the floor with my kids and playing make-believe. I mean, I can do it, obviously; but it's something I have to remind myself and force myself to do. I don't really come up with the fun games my husband seems to do at the drop of a hat. And craft projects are not the regular around here, even including something simple as play-dough. (Although, my daughter colors all the time--but that's all her!)
But reading? Reading with my kids might be the only thing about motherhood that I picked up naturally. (Must be the English-Major and Former-English-Teacher in me . . .)
I read to my oldest daughter right from the start, and it's been the same with her two little brothers. Nothing makes me happier than when my 16-month old comes from the across the house with a book he wants me to read to him--and he won't stop hitting me in the face with it until I do, ha!
There is something about grabbing a big stack of books, piling on the couch together, and feeling the weight of my children's little bodies next to mine that feels like my most glorious part of motherhood. We connect, we learn together, we don't get stuck on the boob tube, and it can even be free. (Library!)
We don't allow much screen-time in our home because my children turn into selfish demons if I they watch anything more than twenty minutes. Seriously! The resulting behavior is so not worth it to me. And I just never caught on to even using educational apps on other screens. So reading books, or even the kids quietly looking at their own, is a big part of our go-to family entertainment; I feel like it is actually foundational to who our family is.
I say this all not to make others feel guilty. Believe me, I stink at almost everything else "mommy"-wise. But reading has been the glue that has kept our family (mostly) happy.
I don't feel too bad about spending money on my kids' books, so we regularly get them for rewards and presents. (I would rather buy ten books than one big toy, my poor children! And we often give books for friends' birthdays. Sorry, kids!) But, I'm also cheap. So my go-to's to find cheapish books are usually TJ Maxx, library sales, sales on places like Brickyard Buffalo, the Today Show's Steals and Deals segment, Amazon, and my neighbors' hand-me-downs.
Some of our very favorites are: For baby books, we are obsessed with anything Sandra Boynton. They are so witty and the rhythm of what you read somehow makes even a two month old smile! We also love any of the Olivia books, Angelina Ballerina and No David series (my 16 month old current favorite is No David!), Creepy Carrots, and just whatever stack we've taken off the shelves from the library without looking twice, which usually includes a lot of books about trucks for my obsessed 3 year old. (PS: if you are looking for someone who reallllly knows her stuff, check out Everyday Reading. She knows everything and anything about books, including children's books. She's a former librarian!)
We are in the thick of the Christmas season now, and reading Christmas books at least every night was a big tradition in my family and we're carrying that on. My mother has gifted us several amazing books, but we want to grow our collection. So, Brad and I started a new tradition a couple of years ago to get a few Christmas books from the bookstores on our anniversary every year. Our anniversary is December 28th, so the books are usually heavily discounted by then. It takes care of our date and presents, too, especially during an already busy and tapped-out time of the year.
Below I'm sharing our most very favorite Christmas books so far. If you are looking for a new book to add to your collection or are wanting to even start this tradition, you will not regret any of these! They are a good mix of sentimental, touching, funny, and instructive.
1) The Wild Christmas Reindeer: I love anything by Jan Brett. The Scandinavian illustrations are so beautiful, and the kids love the little side stories she includes in the borders.
2) Penny's Christmas Jar Miracle: This story makes this non-cryer cry almost every dang time.... Teaches kids that Christmas is about serving others who need it.
3) Annie and the Wild Animals: Another Jan Brett one! My kids love all the animals in this one.
4) Merry Christmas, Curious George: We've always been huge Curious George fans.
5) The Jolly Christmas Postman: This book is new to us this year and it is AMAZING!
6) The Touch of the Master's Hand: Another tear-jerker that does a beautiful job reminding us the true source of the Christmas season.
What Christmas books does your family love?! Please share.
Some other mamas are sharing their favorite books--Christmas or otherwise! Check them out below, and see Madeline and Kiana's blogs to sign up to participate in the next series.