“Help! I Hate My Kid’s Favorite Book!”
How to respond when a book your child loves is one you loathe
Here you are, a dedicated parent or grandparent or other caregiver, and all you want to do is to make sure your kid grows into a well-rounded, happy and caring person.
Naturally, that means you want your child to be a reader, because research shows regular readers are happier, more empathetic and volunteer more than non-readers.
You make sure there are plenty of books around. You go to the library frequently. You read to your child every day. You know the importance of freedom of choice in reading, so you ask your child to pick the book…
And then – he or she chooses something you absolutely loathe. The characters are stupid or stereotyped, the pictures are basic, the plot too predictable. Or maybe you are just sick of reading the same refrain over and over.
Here is a three-step plan to help you handle this scenario.
It may feel sacrilegious to “hate” a particular book (you love books! you support reading!), but it happens. There are a LOT of books out there, and chances are, one or two are going to just get under your skin. Accept your own feelings.
Sometimes you are going to have to read The Dreaded Book. But often you can re-direct your children to other books that are more palatable to your reading tastes and that will interest them as well. That is why trips to the library are so important — you are bound to find many books that fit both criteria. “Oh, what about this book with the penguin making a funny face on the cover? Why do you think that penguin is making that face?”
Third, RE-CONNECT AND READ.
This goes for The Dreaded Book, if you just have to read it or suffer a meltdown. Remember that reading is a special time for you to bond with your child. Ask lots of questions of your child. Try to find new things to point to or talk about related to the book.
And, not to “Cat’s in the Cradle” you too much, but remember that one day much sooner than you think, your children will be reading on their own and won’t need you to read aloud. Hold on to the moments you have. Enjoy them!
Here are some recent picture books that I believe both kids AND parents will love:
“Saturday” by Oge Mora
What happens when your perfect weekend plans go awry? In this lovely everyday tale about a girl and her mother, every planned activity is thwarted (the park is too crowded, they forget tickets to a show, …but they find a way to make everything just right. Sweet without being cloying, this will make you appreciate the time you have with your child even more.
“Field Trip to the Moon” by John Hare
Wordless picture books allow you (and your child!) to talk about what you see and what is going on. In this one, a young girl goes on a class trip to the moon…and is left behind!
“Five Minutes (That’s a Lot of Time) (no, It’s not) (yes, it is)” written by Elizabeth Garton Scanlon with Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Olivier Tallec
Five minutes is not enough time when you want to sleep in…but way too much time when you’re at the dentist! This will be familiar for most families and will lend itself to talking about all of the ways time can be relative in your own lives.
“Pokko and the Drum” by Matthew Forsythe
“The biggest mistake Pokko’s parents ever made was giving her a drum.” A delightful story about the joy of making music with your friends (and maybe also finding your own rhythm).
“Fry Bread” written by Kevin Noble Malliard and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
This gentle story about a Native American tradition of making fry bread (which is delicious) just won several awards from the American Library Association, including for best informational book for kids.