I don't know about you, but I sometimes happen to be short of ideas on things to gift a friend's or relative's child with. Every idea that comes to my mind it's either something the kid already has, or something I've already given to him. So, I've decided that from now on, I only give books as presents! If you want to replenish your collection or look for a new birthday gift, here are some ideas for a new children's book, directly from our home favorites!
Making an exhaustive list is impossible. There's a children's book for all budgets, ages and themes.
So, to begin with, I'll start with the books we have at home, which my kids love to read aver and over again.
If you want some international suggestions, you can also take a look at the pages in Italian and French, where the list is different as in not all books have been translated.
Moreover, if you do need a specific suggestion for a new children's book, you may want to take a look at the Children's Library Lady. She has a broader collection of reviews/
For those times when you're bored but don't feel like inventing a game; for when you need a quick entertaining method for your kids, but don't want to turn the TV on. Or simply, when you just want to have fun together, and maybe discover new sounds and learn a foreign word.. This (non) exhaustive list of children songs is for you! More than 40 amongst our favourite songs - in English, Italian, French and German. Some are well-known, others may surprise you.. It's time to sing and dance!
English Children songs
You probably know Raffi already.. Although he was a recent discovery for me! And have you already been on a bear hunt with your child? Or met an alligator waiting for the elevator?!
I'll start with Raffi's children songs, if you don't mind! I love the values he shares, he imaginary world some of his songs depict.. and the music itself.
You may avoid conflict, and measure your words to please others. Or the other way around: nothing better than a good and healthy fight! Maybe you're sick of all the fighting between your children; you've had enough of having to mediate on who gets the plastic glass with the blue stickers. How can you learn to manage an argument in a positive way? How can you help your kids solve a conflict without the yelling and the crying? Let's take a look here at some very useful strategies for all ages!
A regular fight
We're finally home, a quiet afternoon. While I'm putting our groceries away, I see my daughter throwing a delicate rose blanket and a pillow on the hallway's floor.
She plays for a few minutes on her improvised bed, and then she goes to her room.
Her brother, who was busy pulling a lighted turtle, silently takes his sister's place. He makes a cocoon with the blanket, holding his Teddy Bear.
Ah! Ain't it great when the kids learn how to play on their own and I can take the time that I need around the house?
I should have known better. It's called Murphy's Law. My daughter gets out of her room. Pay attention as the scene unfolds fast:
She stops, seeing her brother on the blanket. Then regains her posture, runs to him and hits him.
I had it first!
She pulls the blanket, but as her brother is on it she can't take it away. She pushes him hard until he falls off. They start pulling each others' hair, until my daughter finally can get a full hold on the blanket. Only to be called to order by
Her brother's desperate crying;
her mother's stop.
He started it Mom! I put so much effort to get everything done and he ruined everything!
Renown fact: nothing sweeter than the smile of a child, right? If you often spend time with a kid, you'll also be familiar with that feeling of light warmth that fills your cheeks when a child, whatever the age, smiles at you. It just gives a sense of pride, as if we had accomplished the day's mission right? And if it's your child, what an even nobler mission, than to make him happy? We often identify "making a child happy" by buying her something new, or letting her win a battle... But in the long run, are those the things that can make children smile from within? What are the little gestures that will change their day (and the people around you as well) ?
Is it easy to make children smile ?
When we come home from school, it's usually quite late. In the course of the day, I pile up a long to-do list to finish. You know, the classics : put the groceries away, take care of the laundry, and so on.
And inevitably, as soon as my kids notice that I'm starting with any of these, they come up with a very tender request, like: "Mom please, I really want to do some painting, can we do it together?" Sweet eyes and innocent look.
And I picture myself pulling out the equipment, drying the colors, chasing my little one before he repaints the white hallway's walls with his hands, and then wash all the taps .. And I often say no, looking for anything that could distract their attention.
"Mama, can you read me a story?" While I'm still wearing my coat, the phone shows 45 unread messages, it's almost time for dinner and the table is still set with breakfast.
You know what? Now, if I had to say the most beautiful smile I can think of on my children's face, it's when, unlike my usual refusal, I once happened to say, "Okay."
I forgot about the messages, the frozen food in the shopping bags, the dinner to be prepared; accepting that it would then be late, that there would be consequences.
We sat right in the middle of the hallway, and we read the whole story. I made my son so happy at the time, just by accepting the imperfection of everything else.
What are the little things we can think of to make our children smile and happy?
Do we know how to accept our children's emotions ? And what about ours? There is a lot of talking today about emotion .. And that's good. Beyond knowing how to identify them, accepting your children's emotions is sometimes easier said than done .. It is a learning process too, and here I share my tips with you !
What do you know about emotional education?
The first time I heard about "emotional education" was reading one of the articles of this online course, in which it was suggested to "put a word" on what the baby is going through.
Does she cry because she's hungry? "Yes, my love, I know you're hungry, I know it's hard to wait (we frown) now your dinner's coming" (our face opens with a smile).
Baby becomes extremely irritable because she's tired? "Of course honey, you're very tired, I see it, it's hard to stay calm when you're exhausted and want to sleep (here, the expression of an empathetic understanding is easy, right?) Now we're going to sleep."
And by mimicking these feelings with our expressions at the same time as we speak, which we usually do automatically and unconsciously, our baby learns to associate the sound of the word with the emotion and to how positive the sensation was. (For more examples and a good guide on the subject, I recommend this book from Lynne Murray)
Well, I find that afterwards, things get a little more complicated. Because as long as one has to interpret the crying of a baby, despite the lack of language, the options are not infinite: angry because of a dirty diaper/ hungry / thirsty ; sad because she wants to be hugged; happy when her mother picks her up and interacts with her; marveled when she discovers something new, etc.
When should we start reading stories to our children? Is there an age? Is reading so important even for toddlers? What should we read, and how ? We try to answer these questions by dedicating this week's post to children's books. If telling and reading stories is instinctive and spontaneous, well .. there's a reason! Let's see how babies and books develop together.
Children's books, babies' books
From what I can recall, I've always loved to read. I often imagined how I could have passed my passion on to my children; I was anticipating the intimacy of a good story before going to bed, all under the duvet, while it's dark outside.
However, I didn't know anything about what happens before this phase. Books eaten, pulled and thrown; pages browsed in a random order; distractions after two minutes; the constant interruption with a thousand questions..
Reading a book to a young child can be frustrating if we imagine a reading activity as we adults do. Children's books are above all a beautiful way of playing..
The idea for this article came to me by (re)reading Lynne Murray's book, "Psychology of Babies". The last chapter is devoted to sharing books with young children. It may seem a little premature at first sight .. As by my examples above. How shall we read a book to a baby? Yet, in principle, it's one of the activities that most supports language learning and cognitive development!
The author indicates some key characteristics for reading's effectiveness, according to the age of the baby.
I thought it would be interesting to share them with you!
You may wonder why I've chosen to start my series with a book that does not talk about children. In fact, I think children are not even mentioned.
Well, truth is, I've come to think that in order to improve the way we are with our children; in order to better understand our little wonders; in order to enjoy more the time we have together; we need to work on us FIRST.
(Ok, maybe at the same time, but... you get the point)!
This book, in my opinion, doesn't present you anything magical, no miracles here... And maybe that's what I like about it.
It does mix data, theory and practical advice and exercises to get a clear hold on what emotional intelligence is and why you should consider working on it.
What can you expect from this book
The style of this book is practical and entertaining. If you are the kind of person who needs A LOT of theory, then maybe this is not the best reading.
However, if you're looking for down-to-earth strategies that you can easily implement in your daily life, you should give it a go. Its main purpose is getting us to switch our way of thinking and build a real strategy to increase our emotional intelligence.
The structure of this book is easy to go through, so I think what could work best is :
reading the book from start to finish to grasp the main concepts;
sneak at which areas you should work on first;
take a note of which pieces of advice you are already putting into practice, and which one you want to start implementing;
use then the book as a guide or referral to check regularly how you're doing in your path towards being an emotionally intelligent person!