Tag Archives: book recommendations

Pigeon Presents!

Do you know Mo Willems and his fabulous children’s books like Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed and Knuffle Bunny?  If you don’t, you simply must go find some of his books to read with the nearest small child.  And if you do, then you’ll really appreciate this fun site!

Pigeon Presents is a website for kids (and parents and teachers and even random grown ups who like to be silly) with all sorts of wonderful stuff.  Play games like dress the hot dog (warning, the bowling ball is a really bad idea) and the elephant & piggie dance game, print coloring pages, learn how to draw favorite characters and more.  Parents can print out things like posters and there are even teachers’ guides to download.

What fun!

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Everybody Needs a Rock

Our family has been rock collecting since even before we had kids.  Daryl used to take me out to river bank and other good rocky areas and we’d spend an hour gathering treasures.  Then we’d sit side by side and show each other our finds and toss back all but the neatest. 

Daryl is especially good at finding fossils and petrified wood.  I am especially good at finding really sparkly, pretty things.  😉

When we moved to this house, some of our rock collection came with us.  I’d repurposed an old coffee table to hold the rocks and had a piece of plexiglass cut to fit the top.  Eventually the rocks were moved outside to become mulch for the herb garden by the back door.  Neighborhood kids used to come over and pore through them.  We’d let them take one home each visit and they’d leave with agates and fossils and rocks that looked like cows and cookies.  We got a kick out of how happy these kids would be to get a rock!  We also got a kick out of passing on such a fun and simple hobby.

Now we have 4 kids of our own and they’re all rock hunters.  Jack always has rocks in his pockets and lined up by his seat in the van.  We can pass time even in parking lots, just by getting the kids looking at the rock filler around the trees. 

There is something almost zen-like about rock hunting.  You lose yourself.  You forget to worry about things.  You become a part of your surroundings, part of nature.  You find the best rocks when you are lost in the act of not looking, not thinking, just seeing. 

If you have not discovered the lovely little book Everybody Needs a Rock, I highly recommend finding a copy at your library or local book store.  It is a treasure, with wonderful illustrations and just the right combination of seriousness and silliness.

Rock hunting is one of those equal opportunity activities.  Anybody can do it.  It costs nothing. 
There’s something for everybody.  You can also do it just about anywhere, though areas around water can be especially nice — the stock is always changing, there’s often a big variety, water can carry different sorts of rocks from long distances away and rocks tend to just look prettier wet.  🙂

Those of you near coasts can go beach combing and look for shells, too, of course.  That’s our favorite thing to do when we’re on vacation by the ocean.  Since we live smack dab in the middle of the country, though, mostly we have to settle for rocks. 

Which works for us.

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Favorite Parenting Books

I just stumbled on this page of books about Positive Discipline and thought it was a good idea to share favorite parenting books.  Here’s my list of books that have helped me the most when my personal toolbox seems empty.  🙂

Parents, Please Don’t Sit on Your Kids! by Clare Cherry
In the category of "worst title, worst cover," this little unknown book is still a winner.  Cherry has a very pro-child outlook and offers advice and insight that is really helpful.  You can buy it used for a penny (plus too much shipping) if you can’t find it in your library.

Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline:  The Seven Basic Skills for Turning Conflict into Cooperation by Becky A. Bailey
This book is not a light read.  Truth be told, I have never made it all the way through it, even though I have gone back to it many times because I find it so good.  It is extremely helpful though, particularly in helping me view things in new ways.  It is one of those books where I need my own copy and a highlighter, because there are so many points to ponder and helpful pieces I want to remember.  If you want a book to help you feel less stressed as a parent, this is one to check out. 

Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
This is another book I reread in times of trouble.  I love this book and think that it should be a required purchase the minute you find out you’re having your second child.  It’s short, simple and effective.  It’s even illustrated with cartoons of what to do and not to do, and why!

Anything by Dr. William and Martha Sears
The Searses are like the godparents of Attachment Parenting and pro-child parenting.  They have tons of great advice and a wonderful outlook in their many books.  That said, I tend to go towards the books above more often than Sears books.  Sears books are great for new parents and those new to AP principles, but they can be a little light on the nitty gritty of problem solving real problems.  I think sometimes they fall into the common trap of making things look a little too rosy in an attempt to sell people on the idea of Attachment Parenting.  While it is important to tell people how truly lovely children can be when they’re happy and raised lovingly, this can have the effect of making parents feel that they’re failing at it if their kids go through perfectly normal, not so loveable stages.  This sort of goes along with the "Strangers with Compliments" post from the other day.  Despite all of this, I still love the Sears books and how dedicated they are to happy children.

The Out-of-Sync Child has Fun: Activities for Kids with Sensory Integration Dysfunction by Carol Stock Kranowitz
While I do not have any children with sensory disorders, this is a book I absolutely love and frequently recommend.  The projects and activities are designed for children with issues like autism and sensory disorders, but they are just plain wonderful for ALL children.  These inexpensive, fun ideas are really creative and wonderful and work all of children’s senses.  All children have sensory needs and there are ideas here for any child.  Some examples of projects include stuffing a duvet cover with pillows to make a crash pad, making a fishing game with paperclips and fish shapes, writing and drawing in hand lotion on a tray and using flour to mark an outside obstacle course (plus a million more).  This is also a great book for activities to get you through rainy days and cabin fever.

Your XX Year Old by Louise Bates Ames (some titles by Ames with Frances L. Ilg)
This series is decades old but I have still found it very helpful in understanding my children at each age.  Ames and Ilg don’t embrace any particular parenting philosophy as much as they simply attempt to explain what’s normal at each age (physically, emotionally, behaviorally and more) and give some good tools to deal with common problems.  I found it extremely helpful to read that lying was a normal behavior for four year olds when I was suddenly faced with one (and my previous 4 year olds had not gone through that stage), for instance.  In many cases, I come back thankful that my kids aren’t going through many of the worse stuff that’s typical!  🙂  DO keep in mind that the books are dated and the authors have opinions that may not match yours.  One reviewer on Amazon of the 4 year old book had some very good points about issues she had with the books.  Despite the drawbacks, I find the series extremely informative.

Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason by Alfie Kohn
Oh boy.  Prepare for some strong feelings!  🙂  This is a great book to really make you think and challenge even your most basic parenting ideas.  I did not agree with all of this and I found it lacking in giving real advice much of the time, but I found it thought provoking and a great addition to my "inner library" (you know, the thoughts that stay with you and make up the patchwork of your own personal philosophies).  This book is like a really potent herb– it won’t make a meal of its own but it can add wonderful flavor if you add it to a mix of other good stuff.  Approach it with an open mind.  Kohn has some really insightful thoughts about kids and what they really need.  

Those are some of the books that have had a big effect on me or get me through the tough parenting days.  I also enjoyed Kids are Worth it by Barbara Coloroso, but it’s been a while and it was a library copy so I don’t remember it well enough to review it much more than that!  🙂  It’s one I’d like to get back to and read again.

What areyour favorite parenting books?  Please share!


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