From starting preschool to introducing a sibling, potty training to visiting the dentist for the first time, books can help children prepare for many of life’s milestones while calming their tender nerves.
For most parents, cuddling up at the end of a long day with your child after they have had a bath to read a bedtime story is one of the best times of the day. But what if the following day’s event has your child wound up and anxious, full of questions and doubt? A peaceful night’s rest is highly unlikely for either of you. On these occasions, we recommend heading to your local library or bookstore in search of assistance.
No matter the topic or theme, books help children (and their parents) prepare for some of life’s scariest firsts.
Books help break down what to expect, describe first-time jitters and present realistic scenarios that children can identify with, and because they are children’s books, they are non-threatening, use language that is easy to understand and are often beautifully illustrated.
Best of all, books encourage an open dialogue with your child and provide a point of reference for parents who might not normally have the right words to address the situation.
It’s not just about reading the books
According to Ingrid Kellaghan, child-development expert and founder of Cambridge Nanny Group in Chicago, “The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) advises that reading books that feature simple text, illustrations, and everyday situations engage young children and can prepare them for many of life’s milestones. But it’s not just reading the books; the NAEYC advises parents and caregivers to also discuss the books. While reading a story, pause and ask the children how a character in a story might feel or ask them to suggest ideas for solving the character’s problems.”
As parents it is our jobs to help our children adjust and embrace any given situation with comfort and ease and having a guideline is the perfect way to tame those butterflies and ease young worried minds.
No child’s bookshelf should be without a title or two from The Berenstain Bears series, which has been around for over 50 years. This delightful series created by Stan and Jan Berenstain covers dozens of issues our children face every day, including: Bullying, greediness, bad manners, poor sportsmanship, visiting the doctor and dentist for the first time, online safety and childhood obesity.
Some of our other family favorites suitable for children ages 3-8 include:
- School readiness: The Night Before Preschool by Natasha Wing
- Introducing a new puppy to the family: Muddypaws by Moira Butterfield
- Potty training: Potty Animals: What to Know When You’ve Gotta Go! by Hope Vestergaard; Prince of the Potty by Nora Gaydos
- First sleepovers/separation anxiety: Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber; The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
- Introducing a new baby to a sibling: The New Baby by Mercer Meyer; I’m a Big Brother / I’m a Big Sister by Joanna Cole
- Coping with divorce: Dinosaurs Divorce by Marc Brown