I’m happy to report that I’ve figured out how to make my twin toddlers do anything I want (most of the time). The million dollar secret, you ask? Promise to read them any book by Todd Parr. An almost daily conversation in my house lately sounds like this:
“Ready to get dressed? Brush your teeth? Let mommy comb your hair?”
“No. No. No.”
“Yes! Yes! Yes!”
“Then first get dressed, brush your teeth, and comb your hair. Then we will read The Family Book.”
I kid you not. It’s that easy (most of the time).
I first discovered these books on that magic shelf back in our children’s section, right in that little alcove with the board books. There you will find a few racks of must-have children’s books, made with the least expensive materials possible. That’s right, you don’t have to buy the hardcover of The Story of Ferdinand or We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. Chances are your little ones will rip the jacket and color on the pages anyway. Since we’re going through way too many books at a time in my house lately, I love finding the flimsy paperback versions of the books my kids absolutely must read.
While my daughter talked to the rack of stuffed animals and my son pulled all of Nancy’s carefully arranged puzzles off a display, I fell in love with two of the most colorful books on the shelf: The Feelings Book and The Family Book. Many other Parr books have found their way into my house, but those were the two that first hooked us. They’re colorful and filled with warm, funny, and loving messages about concepts my kids are just starting to understand. Encouraging children to embrace our differences, these books are perfect for starting conversations that promote character growth and emotional development. Parr has authored over 30 children’s books and is the winner of two National Parenting Publications Awards and three Oppenheim Gold Awards.
I was disappointed to learn that The Family Book was actually banned in the Erie, Illinois school district in 2012. The reason was the spread at left, about how “some families have two moms or two dads.” Here is Parr’s response to the incident. It moved me as much or more as his books do, and will tell you all you need to know about why this man is a special author to be treasured.
Miriam Landis is a web monkey for Island Books on Mercer Island, WA, where she also writes for the store’s journal, Message in a Bottle. She joined the publishing industry in 2004 with an internship at Simon & Schuster and worked as an assistant editor at Hyperion and a site merchandiser on the Amazon books team. A former professional ballerina, she’s the author of two novels about ballet, Girl in Motion, and the sequel, Breaking Pointe and the mother of twins. This piece was originally posted on the Island Books tumblr, Message in a Bottle.