Hello Monday! I am excited for you to join me today! Are you enjoying the #momcrushmonday series? I would love for you to share it on your social media accounts if you do! Are you are following along on Instagram too? Share any feedback in the comments and make sure to let me know however you can if you like the series! I am excited about Bethany’s guest post today as she shares 3 parenting books that change her life and will change yours too! I hope to see you right back here next Monday too! Have a great week!
3 Parenting Books Which Will Change Your Life
When my first-born daughter was born, I was a rookie mom just like everyone else. I definitely am not writing this post as the perfect parent. I struggled through many days of the huge responsibility of keeping a human alive. Today, I want to share 3 parenting books that will change your life as they have mine.
As an educator and a mother, there are times where you come home so exhausted from little people questions and needs all day long that you have nothing left to give to your own children. Lucy Calkins says, “No job requires more intelligence, knowledge, and energy than the job of parenting.” There have been, and will be days, where I did not engage my children in speaking and listening, much less reading.
“Crying is all right in its own way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.” – C.S. Lewis
The reason I kept going at all on those difficult days was largely in part due to these three fabulous authors and parenting books I want to share with you today.
Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina
This book was given to me by my sister in law (an early elementary educator like myself) when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter.
There are fancy programs and “reading shortcuts” advertised everywhere. However, Medina’s book shows you scientific proof the magic is in the fundamentals. In this book, we learn that your child’s brain is 80% developed by the time they are 2 years old. It is imperative your child’s language development needs to begin at birth through reading, singing, speaking, and listening.
Medina also lays out clear evidence in his “rules for baby” on topics such as screen time, sharing household responsibilities equally with your partner, sleep training etc.
“Kids come into the world before their brains are fully developed. The result? Parenthood.” ― John Medina, Brain Rules for Baby
The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease
I was first introduced to this book in my Teacher Education undergrad courses. Since then, I have worn out many copies of his book. He is the KING of read-alouds for decades now. If I were going to be a groupie, Trelease would be my man.
In The Read Aloud Handbook, he makes the case that reading aloud is the single best investment of parental time and energy. If Jim were to write a sequel to his book here in 2017, I think he would be even more sure of his stance. As a young student, I wanted to go and teach in countries around the world which did not have the resources I had while growing up. When my husband was growing up, books were the only way he could afford to travel. He and some of my students learned about geography, religion, food, etc. from a book. Reading in turn made them into more globally-minded, tolerant and empathetic individuals.
“Children whose families take them to museums and zoos, who visit historic sites, who travel abroad, or who camp in remote areas accumulate huge chunks of background knowledge without even studying. For the impoverished child lacking the travel portfolio of affluence, the best way to accumulate background knowledge is by either reading or being read to.” ― Jim Trelease, The Read-Aloud Handbook
Besides reading aloud, one of the biggest takeaways from his book in my own parenting methods was his view on screen time.
In his book, he explained how the country of Finland has successfully used closed captioning and subtitles to promote literacy. Finnish children do not begin formal reading instruction until they are seven years old. However, they consistently score the highest in the world in standardized reading tests compared to other countries.
Finnish families are some of the highest users of closed captioning. It is attributed to be the reason for their high literacy rates. In the book, Trelease explains the 30:1 ratio of visual receptors over auditory receptors in the brain. Research shows that the chances of a word (or sentence) being retained in our memory bank are thirty times greater if we see it instead of just hear it. Trelease calls it the “sponge effect”.
I use this fabulous sponge effect to reinforce language learning with my kids. For example, to distract my daughter when I do her hair, she is given a quick lesson by watching a show in Spanish or French with English subtitles.
Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to our Children Will Change their Lives Forever by Mem Fox
Another amazing reading guru (and fellow Trelease fan) is Mem Fox. I have read her book many times over again for it’s simple and engaging writing about the number one thing parents can do to help their children academically for the rest of their lives: reading.
She talks about how to connect with your children on an emotional level through books. Mem walks you through how to build self-confidence through your children finding book characters who look like them and have similar experiences. Fox’s book champions giving children the power to be who they are and be unashamed of being different. When my daughter came home from pre-school in tears because of a remark someone had made about her hair or her skin color, I used the stories of other girls and women like her, who have risen above and changed the world to comfort her.
“Books don’t harm kids; they arm them.” ― Mem Fox
She weaves in the statistics of the benefits of reading in a way which will not give you a guilt trip. However, she inspires you to try these different strategies. She is a literacy expert, but her humble approach to teaching others about reading with children is very approachable. No parent wants to read a condescending book or be given impossible standards. Fox’s book is the opposite. She has you thinking you are a superhero right from page one. Most importantly, she gives you advice for helping your children love to read instead of just tolerating books. She promotes a healthy attitude towards books that stays with children for the rest of their lives.
“When I say to a parent, “read to a child”, I don’t want it to sound like medicine. I want it to sound like chocolate.” ― Mem Fox
I have read these three brilliant authors over and over again. I give these parenting books to each one of my friends when they have a child. These parenting books have answered so many of my own questions and given me life-long tools to implement with my daughters. I am consistently challenged by them. Even when life is at its craziest, reading is our beacon of calm in the storm.
Bethany is an elementary teacher/reading specialist from California and has lived overseas the past 8 years teaching in international schools. She has two girls: a 6 year old and 3 month old. On her blog, Biracial Bookworms, she empowers and arms families and teachers with the tools to give children the world through reading, learning languages and traveling!
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