Updated: May 6, 2021
I know you're a good parent, otherwise, you wouldn't be reading this. And I know you probably feel guilty about one thing or another in your parenting from time to time. We all do.
My son's pediatrician used to say that every parent's middle name ought to be guilt. (I had a horrible experience with a nail clipper. I was cutting his nails when he was asleep and he suddenly jerked awake. Yikes that was a lot of blood.)
Here's something you don't have to feel guilty about. And it's probably the most important thing you can do for your child's sensory and emotional health.
Do you read to your kids? Every day? Apparently, some new research is showing that a big percentage of parents don't do it all but those who do end up with kids that are more stable, happy, and resilient to life's ups and downs as well as being better readers themselves.
That why I've compiled a list of some of my favorite emotionally rich stories to read with children 1-5 years old.
These stories and others like them should pave the way for many talks you'll have with your kids about feelings. This is how children learn empathy.
They also learn by watching what you do and how you react to others as a compassionate human being.
I'm going to share some books with you that have worked for me in my 43 years as a child and parent educator. I'm including the Amazon link as well as the link to some of the author's websites as a way to make it easier for you, not because I'm affiliated with them in any way. I just love a good read and I hope you do too!
Here's the list:
Read To Your Bunny by Rosemary Wells https://www.rosemarywells.com/
Feast For 10 by Cathryn Falwell https://cathrynfalwellbooks.com/ https://www.amazon.com/Feast-10-Cathryn-Falwell/dp/0618382267
Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni https://www.amazon.com/Little-Blue-Yellow-Leo-Lionni/dp/0688132855
Sophie Wants A Turn by Dr. Becky A. Bailey https://consciousdiscipline.com/product/sophie-wants-a-turn/
Sophie Is A Star by Dr. Becky A. Bailey https://consciousdiscipline.com/product/sophie-is-a-s-t-a-r/
Love Makes A Family by Sophie Beer https://www.amazon.com/Love-Makes-Family-Sophie-Beer/dp/052555422X
Oscar's Grouchy Sounds by Constance Allen https://www.amazon.com/Oscars-Grouchy-Sounds-Golden-Sturdy/dp/0307123197
The Monster At The End Of This Book by Jon Stone https://www.amazon.com/Monster-End-This-Book/dp/0307010856
La Casa Adormecida/The Napping House by Audrey and Don Wood https://www.amazon.com/adormecida-Napping-House-Spanish-English/dp/0547719205
Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney https://www.amazon.com/Llama-Red-Pajama-Anna-Dewdney/dp/0451474570
The Day The Babies Crawled Away by Peggy Rathman https://www.amazon.com/Day-Babies-Crawled-Away/dp/039923196X
It's OK To Be Different by Todd Parr https://www.amazon.com/Okay-Different-Todd-Parr-Classics/dp/0316043478
Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watts https://www.amazon.com/Scaredy-Squirrel-M%C3%A9lanie-Watt/dp/1554530237
Just Grandma and Me by Mercer Mayer https://www.amazon.com/Just-Grandma-Little-Critter-Pictureback/dp/0307118932
Ernie Gets Lost by Liza Alexander https://www.amazon.com/Ernie-Gets-Sesame-Street-Growing-Up/dp/0307120155
Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber https://www.amazon.com/Ira-Sleeps-Over-Bernard-Waber/dp/0395205034
Abiyoyo told by Pete Seeger https://www.amazon.com/Abiyoyo-Pete-Seeger/dp/0689718101
Shubert's Helpful Day by Dr. Becky A. Bailey https://www.amazon.com/Shuberts-Helpful-Day-Paperback-English/dp/1889609196
I Don't Like The Sound Of No! by Julia Cook https://www.amazon.com/Sound-Story-Accepting-Answer-Disagreeing/dp/1934490253
Milo and The Magical Stone by Marcus Pfister https://www.amazon.com/Milo-Magical-Stones-Marcus-Pfister/dp/0735822530
One more important thing. Parents, relatives, and providers need to cuddle up and feel close when they read to very young children. Humans are soothed by this and that's because multi-sensory experiences help us to make the proper brain connections for learning.
tip: If a child squirms on your lap, and it hurts you, stop reading and point to the part of your body that is uncomfortable and tell them they need them to be gentle with your body if you're going to continue with the story. It's good for them to learn that others can feel pain and good for them to see people set appropriate limits for themselves. Begin reading again when you both feel comfortable.
We have an obligation to model that kind of positive and assertive behavior for them.
If you're concerned about your child's development, you can find a free developmental milestone tracker and lots of information here.
Thank you so much for reading this! I know how precious your time really is. If you liked this article, I have some good news. Each week I've been writing a brand new article about Creating Empathy Through Play. Next week's article is on Empathy and Sensory Processing and you can get it delivered to your inbox effortlessly by joining our community of very important parents and providers.
You'll instantly get my slideshow with 21 one-liners that you can use to get kids to listen without yelling or time-outs.
Nanci J Bradley, 60ish, is an early childhood and family educator, author, teacher, SELF-care facilitator, family aerobics instructor, and an all-around fun-loving person. She believes in the power of sleep, healthy eating, lifelong learning and most of all, PLAY! She studied early childhood ed at Triton College and received her BS in education in 1986 from NIU. She received her MA in human development from Pacific Oaks College in 2011. She lives and teaches in Madison WI