Reading to kids – it’s also about values

So I’ve talked before about the importance of kids’ books for teaching language to children, but there’s also a lot to be said for using literature to transmit values. I believe we need to be intentional about what we read to our children. By this I am referring both to what we choose to read and what we choose not to read. I could rail against all the garbage being written for kids these days (and always, it’s not all new), but in the interest of keeping things positive I’m going to just mention one valuable story we read in my house recently.

Frog and Toad All Year (Frog and Toad, #3)

We love Frog and Toad (you know that already, though, because I mentioned them in my last post, too) and recently got Frog and Toad All Year from the library. My absolute favorite story in the book, and the inspiration for this post, is The Surprise, in which Frog and Toad each secretly rake each other’s leaves. They each independently come up with the idea and do the good deed in secret. Then the wind blows all the leaves out of the piles, undoing their hard work; when each returns home, he finds his own yard a mess and never knows what the other did for him. The best part of the story is that Frog and Toad each go to sleep that night happy to have helped a friend, never finding the need to take credit for it. Each of them is happy just to have done a good deed, without needing or seeking credit.

This is love in its truest sense  – seeking the good of another just for the other’s sake. I’m not sure if my kids understand the message of the story, but it has certainly served as a reminder for me to check myself every time I want to say to someone, “oh, hey – did you see this nice thing I just did for you?” I know that books teach us (there’s a reason I called this blog “The Edifying Word”), but reading The Surprise was, for me, a reminder of the power of stories teach values and not just facts.

I’ve generally been pretty good at screening out the “bad” from what my kids read (at home, anyway – I can’t control that my daughter’s teacher reads Junie B. Jones with all her sass aloud to the class). My goal going forward is to remember the power of teaching positive values rather than just avoiding the things I don’t approve of, and using that as a guide for choosing what we read. We learn by repetition, and if I repeatedly and intentionally expose my children to the values I want to instill in them, they will absorb the message; literature is one of many tools I have as a parent to do so.

What do you think? Any suggestions of other positive, edifying books for kids?

Top Ten Tuesday: Food in Books!

Today for the first time I am participating in Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. I’m going for a loose association here, as I don’t really have a “top ten yummy foods mentioned in books,” and I’m only choosing five today. Here is basically my dump of the first five books I thought of when I read the prompt. Without further ado…

  1. Frog and Toad Together – I already had Frog and Toad on the brain, and I just love the story in this book about Frog and Toad uncontrollably eating cookies and their subsequent discussion of willpower. They remind me a little of me…

Frog and Toad Together (Frog and Toad I Can Read Stories Book 2) by [Lobel, Arnold]

2. The Mossback Café Cookbook – This is a lovely cookbook put together by Thomas Fenske to highlight the fictional Texas café from his books The Fever and A Curse That Bites Deep. Check out the cookbook, but then read the books! They’re great! See my reviews here, here, and here.

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3. A Life More Complicated by Lizzie Steel – The effort and dedication Josh shows in his quest to make the perfect pizza for Corina is a heartwarming example of someone stepping outside his own comfort zone to complete an act of love for another. Have I mentioned before how amazing this book is? Somehow I’m still the only person who has reviewed it on Amazon – I’m telling you, you are all missing out if you don’t read it!

A Life More Complicated by [Steel, Lizzie]

4. The BFG by Roald Dahl – So, this is NOT yummy, but I couldn’t help thinking of snozzcumbers!

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5. 100 Days of Real Food: Fast and Fabulous by Lisa Leake of – I posted about this book a while back when I had yet to cook anything from it, and I have to say, after actually using it, I really love it. There are still tons of recipes in it that I haven’t tried, but I’m making my way through them slowly. Lisa’s slow cooker chicken and chicken stock recipes have become staples in my house, and my kids are big fans of her oatmeal applesauce pancakes (as am I, yum!).

100 Days of Real Food: Fast & Fabulous: The Easy and Delicious Way to Cut Out Processed Food by [Leake, Lisa]

I’m sure I could think of more if I really tried, but instead how about I throw it out to you — anyone game for filling in the next five for me? I’d love to hear what you think up!