Reading to my daughter is one of my favorite things in the world, but even as a huge bookworm, I can admit that some of her choices are totally boring and redundant. I prefer stories with actual plots and characters as opposed to lots of rhyming three-word sentences. But I think it's more than just entertainment. There are so many of her books that have subtle messages I want her to hear, and I'm learning quickly that there are plenty of children's books moms can learn from, too.
For the most part, it's pretty obvious what lessons are being taught in a book, but children's books aren't written to be like a textbook. You can read every self-help book in the world, but I guarantee that the advice you want is hidden within the lines of a beautifully illustrated children's story. These authors are writing for a child ― they don't need extensive research or statistics. They need a character to connect with, fun text, and a simple lesson to understand. Your kids don't even realize that they're learning how to be respectful, kind, and considerate when they read these books ― they just implement the lessons in real life because they remember a character was once in the same situation. And the same goes for you, mom. So here are 15 children's books you can learn from, too. Pick one up when you're feeling down or pay attention when you're reading to your kid for a refresher on the basic lessons we all should know and remember.
1. 'Waiting' by Kevin Henkes
Patience is a virtue, but everyone's missing it some days. Waiting is a sweet story about five little friends waiting for something they want, but they are all surprisingly content with it. No one is impatient or trying to rush the moment, they're all just happy to be there and to wait. As a mom, this is a huge lesson to learn. You want your kids to walk, or to stop being so needy, or to grow up a little faster, but sometimes, you just need to be happy waiting.
2. 'Ask Me' by Bernard Waber
Talking to your children often requires a lot of patience and time, but Ask Me reminds everyone that it's essential to your relationship. The sweet story follows a father and daughter talking as the little girl tells her father to ask her questions so she can answer them. It's a reminder that even the mundane things are a favorite for kids and that they all want you to listen.
3. 'Last Stop On Market Street' by Matt De La Pena
Comparison is a trap and even though moms know that, it's hard to keep it in mind sometimes. Last Stop on Market Street is a beautiful book for kids to find beauty in their own surroundings instead of others, but it's important for parents to remember, too.
4. 'The Heart And The Bottle' by Oliver Jeffers
Grief is hard enough for children to understand, but it can leave moms floundering, too. The Heart and the Bottle is a beautiful story about loss ― a little girl loses the person who encouraged her to open her eyes to the world around her, so she puts her heart in a bottle and says goodbye to wonderment and curiosity. But when she grows and meets another little girl, it all comes back to her. It's amazing how losing someone affects both grown-ups and children the same, but how you have to keep looking for the beauty and letting your heart wonder.
5. 'The Most Magnificent Thing' by Ashley Spires
How often do you think up some great! magnificent! wonderful! ideas and then quickly discover that there was nothing even remotely good about your plans? The Most Magnificent Thing tackles that exact story line and teaches children to not give up when something doesn't work out, but to take the time to plan, gather supplies, and execute an idea. A serious lesson everyone needs, especially me when I'm looking at Pinterest.
6. 'Those Shoes' by Maribeth Boelts
Learning the lesson that what you have is often better than the things you want is hard ― I don't know any adult that has mastered it yet. But Those Shoes is a sweet book for both you and your little one to learn that lesson from. When one boy desperately wants a pair of shoes everyone has, he has to learn that the things he has are more important, and that being kind to another child with the same desire is worth more than anything.
7. 'Spaghetti In A Hot Dog Bun' by Maria Dismondy
No matter how confident or empowered you are, all moms have moments where they feel less than and are missing the courage to be their full self. That's why Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun is so important for everyone. When you are brave enough to know who you are, you also learn to respect others around you, despite your glaring differences.
8. 'My Mouth Is A Volcano' by Julia Cook
My Mouth is a Volcano teaches the incredibly important lesson of not interrupting and holding back your exuberant thoughts until it's your turn to speak, but I also think the lesson for adults is that, even if you feel like bursting with your words, sometimes you have to swallow them down. I'm basically always trying to learn this.
9. 'Green Eggs And Ham' by Dr. Seuss
You always thought it was just a silly book, but Green Eggs and Ham has a great lesson in perseverance and in dropping your prejudices to try something new. I'm just going to wager that everyone needs both of those lessons, but especially moms.
10. 'Julia, Child' by Kyo Maclear
This is one of my daughter's favorite books and the lesson its given me is overwhelming. Julia, Child follows a little girl named Julia who is determined to create the perfect recipe to remind adults to savor life and to remember what it was like to be a child. The book is also inspired by the real Julia Child, so it's a real treat for everyone.
11. 'What Do You Do With An Idea?' by Kobi Yamada
What Do You Do With an Idea? tells the story of a little boy with an idea that he allows to grow and nurture, despite others disregard for it. It's the perfect book to remind you that if you have an idea, you might as well let it grow because it's not going to go anywhere.
12. 'Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day' by Judith Viorst
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day was one of my favorites as a kid, and I'm realizing that its lesson on bad days applies to grown-ups, too. Things aren't always that bad, right? Sure, lots of little annoyances like the alarm clock not going off and your kid spilling their milk two seconds before the school bus shows up, and your co-worker not finishing a project you needed sucks. And when it all comes at once, it feels like it ruins everything. But your bad day isn't so bad after all ― just a series of things to put up with.
13. 'Stephanie's Ponytail' by Robert Munsch
Did you ever read Stephanie's Ponytail as a kid? I remember loving this book, and I could still benefit from reading it these days. It's the story of a little girl, Stephanie, who is determined to be an individual. When she tries new hair styles however, everyone calls her ugly before copying her. She keeps doing new things until she eventually tricks everyone into shaving their head while she keeps her long locks. A sweet lesson on being yourself and not conforming to others.
14. 'Dancing In The Wings' by Debbie Allen
When you're lacking self-confidence, it's hard to see your qualities and strength, but Dancing in the Wings tackles the lesson of believing in yourself effortlessly. Ballerina Sassy thinks her feet are too big and she's too tall, but she loves dancing more than anything. By wearing a bright yellow leotard to stand out in the crowd and focusing on being herself, she learns that her passion and spirit are all she needs to be great.
15. 'Have You Filled A Bucket Today?' by Carol McCloud
If you want your child to be kind, shouldn't you show them how? Actions speak louder than words and Have You Filled a Bucket Today? gives everyone a lesson in being kind and showing love to others in order to fill their "bucket" of emotional and mental health.