Anna and I received many wonderful books as gifts when both Jude and Adelaide were born, but we have bought very few books ourselves since then. Anna takes the kids to the library occasionally, and her parents and mine both give the kids books as gifts. We read to the kids every day, but we definitely go for quality over quantity when it comes to the number of books that we have in the house.
It’s the season of gift-giving, so I thought I’d share a few of our favorite books for any children in your life. Anna and I like each book below for two reasons: the book teaches a child something meaningful but also serves as a tool for parents to have important conversations with their children.
Talking about emotions
F is for Feelings
We bought F is for Feelings by Goldie Millar, Lisa Berger, and Hazel Mitchell for Jude as a Christmas present when he was almost two years old. He liked the pictures and reading the story, and the book helped us talk with him about how he’s feeling. The book names one feeling for each letter of the alphabet, along with a sentence and a picture for each letter and corresponding feeling. The book helps our family by giving Jude specific words like “brave” and “frustrated” to label what can feel like complicated emotions for someone his age. As Jude has gotten older, it’s helped us have conversations about specific times when Jude has been excited or scared, for example, and it’s helped Anna and I begin to teach Jude that everyone has strong emotions, even Mommy and Daddy.
The 5 Love Languages of Children
Anna and I read The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman when we were engaged, and the book helped us talk through what we each needed from one another. We both have the same two primary love languages, quality time and acts of service. A love language is the way in which a person feels most loved, and the idea is that you must speak your partner’s love language to show them love rather than speaking your own love language and expecting them to react the same way that you do. For example, Anna feels the most loved by me when we spend time together (quality time) and when I do things to help her and our family.
Recently we discovered The 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, which discusses how the love languages can be applied to parenting. If we can understand when our children feel most loved, we can help our children grow into emotionally healthy adults. The book would be a great gift for yourself or for a fellow parent.
Learning about the human body
It’s important to Anna and me that our kids know that they can ask us anything, even if it makes them or us uncomfortable. We’ve tried to make this message clear now, while they’re young, so that all of us are as ready as possible when the tougher questions come along. When it comes to questions about our bodies and sex, we want to make sure that we’re the source of the information, not the kids’ friends or anyone else. We also want God and our faith to be an integral part of the conversation. In short, we see our bodies and sex as an ongoing conversation rather than one or two isolated talks.
The Story of Me
A few years ago, one of Anna’s friends from her Bible study told her about the God’s Design for Sex series of books. The books have age appropriate information about the body, what it does, and how babies are made, along with soft watercolor paintings. For example, we have the first book in the series now, The Story of Me by Brenna Jones and Stan Jones, which is intended for 3 to 5 year olds. The book talks about how God takes a little piece of a mommy and a little piece of a daddy and makes a baby as well as how a baby is born. Jude loves the book. We read it a few times a month, and he always asks lots of questions afterwards. The book is helping all of us prepare for more detailed conversations to come.
Good Pictures, Bad Pictures Jr.
Another book that teaches Jude about the sacredness of his body is Good Pictures, Bad Pictures Jr. by Kristen Jenson and Debbie Fox. The book is designed to teach young children, ages 3 to 6, the dangers of pornography, even though the book does not use that word specifically. It teaches kids that their bodies are beautiful and good but that no one should ever take pictures of the parts of their bodies that can be covered with swim suits. The book also talks about how seeing good pictures – of our families, friends, food we like – is good for us while seeing pictures of scary things or naked bodies can hurt our brains. It’s an excellent introduction for children and parents alike on the harmful effects of pornography. There’s another book, Good Pictures, Bad Pictures, for older children, ages 8 to 12.
See Inside Your Body
The last book, See Inside Your Body by Katie Daynes and Colin King, is a lift-the-flap book for children of all ages with over 50 flaps. You can learn about where your food goes after you’ve swallowed it, how the lungs work, where our hearts pump all of the blood in our bodies, and more. It’s been a great visual for Jude as he begins to ask more questions about how his body works. The book will definitely grow with him, too. There’s a lot of visual and written content on each page for kids to ponder and ask questions about.
What books do the children in your life enjoy? What books are important for your family? It’d be great to hear your suggestions in the comments below.