There is no better feeling than that of spending time happily engaged with a child. And we know from emerging research into brain development that children get more out of the time and attention adults spend on them than previously believed.
You may have heard the phrase “parents are a child’s first teacher.” This idea that the primary adults in a child’s life are their most important influence is true not simply about learning language or how to hold a spoon, but also in establishing lifelong values. When an adult includes a child in activities they enjoy – whether music, drawing, reading, building, or anything else – the child associates that experience with the shared good feeling.
These books peek inside the developing brain to help us better understand just what babies know, when they know it, and how they learn:
Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn – And Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less by Kathy Hirsch-Pasek and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff with Diane Eyer. 2003
The Scientist in the Crib: What Early Learning Tells Us About the Mind by Allison Gopnick, Andrew Meltzoff and Patricia K. Kuhl. 1999
Eager to Learn: Educating our Preschoolers, the National Research Council, National Academy Press. 2000.
Here are some resources to help you plan outdoor adventures with your family:
Best Hikes with Kids. Vermont, New Hampshire & Maine by Cynthia Copeland, Thomas Lewis & Emily Kerr. 2007
New Hampshire Off the Beaten Path 8th: a guide to unique places by Barbara Radcliffe Rogers. 2009
These books are packed with ideas for how to feed the imagination and spirit of the children who share your home:
Winnie the Pooh’s Rainy Day Activities by Sharon Harper. 2002
Kitchen Science by Peter Pentland. 2003
I’m a Scientist: Kitchen by Lisa Burke. 2010
I’m a Scientist: Backyard by Lisa Burke. 2010
Festivals, Family & Food by Diana Carey. 1996
The Nature Corner by M.V. Leeuwen. 1990
Books We Love is a collection of book titles for adults, independent readers, and for reading aloud with children. Each column will be organized around a theme and will include recommendations by Museum staff and the Dover Children’s Librarian, Kathleen Thorner. We invite you to use the comments to contribute your own favorite titles related to that same theme, or to share your experiences reading about, and with, your children.
Why are we writing about books?
Books allow us to reflect on our experience and explore ideas. They can stand in for a trusted advisor, community leader, friends and family. And their distance from our own pressing concerns can be liberating and helpful. When we read with our children we share both the love of reading with them, and offer an opportunity to think and learn together.
Whether we read to ourselves or with our children this is a great way to think about books – as opportunities to safely explore new ideas, consider options, and play out our hopes and dreams.
This collection of titles focuses on transitions – a theme that resonates with the change of seasons and beginning of school. Titles for adults include helping children make decisions, coping with stressful transitions, and what to expect from typical developmental milestones. For children the books focus on school as a common experience with change that is often highly anticipated by both children and their adults. Themes range from first day jitters to coping with cliques, and feature children, teachers and even the class pet.
The Most Recommended Book
All of our education staff, and librarian Kathleen Thorner, each had one book title in common. That was The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. 1993. Its popularity surprised us and we wanted to highlight it.
Books for Parents
Good kids, Tough Choices: how parents can help their children do the right thing by Rushworth M. Kidder. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2010. – Kathleen Thorner
Great kids: helping your baby and child develop the ten essential qualities for a happy, healthy life by Stanley I. Greenspan. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2007. - Kathleen Thorner
Parenting through Crisis: helping kids in times of loss, grief, and change by Barbara Coloroso. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2000. – Kathleen Thorner
The Parents’ Guide to Psychological First aid: helping children and adolescents cope with predictable life crises edited by Gerald P. Koocher and Annette M. La Greca. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. – Kathleen Thorner
Touchpoints Three to Six by T. Berry Brazelton. This series explores predictable developmental milestones and examines the tension children experience as they grow more independent and competent. A helpful framework for parents whether your child is 2-yrs old or 12-yrs old. – CMNH Staff
Recommendations for younger children (for starting school):
I Don’t Want to Go to School by Stephanie Blake, 2009. Simon the rabbit does not want to go to his first day of school, but by the time his mother comes to take him home, he is having such a good time that he does not want to leave. – Kathleen Thorner
Maisy Goes to Preschool by Lucy Cousins. A great introduction to what happens at daycare and preschool for young children – CMNH Staff
Will You Come Back For Me? by Ann Tompert. To help ease the fears of separation for children going to daycare or preschool for the first time – CMNH Staff
Mama Don’t Go by Rosemary Wells, 2001. Yoko loves kindergarten, but she doesn’t want her mother to leave–until her new friend helps her realize that “mothers always come back.” – Kathleen Thorner
Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Ahley Wolff, 1996.
Introduces the letters of the alphabet as Miss Bindergarten and her students get ready for kindergarten. – Kathleen Thorner
Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden by Edith Pattou. – CMNH Staff
Who Will Go to School (Kindergarten)Today? by Karl Ruhmann. – CMNH Staff
My Preschool by Anne Rockwell, 2008. Follows a little boy during his day at preschool, from cheerful hellos in circle time, to painting colorful pictures and playing at the water table, to passing out paper cups for snack. – Kathleen Thorner
Sumi’s First Day of School by Soyung Pak, 2003. Sumi is nervous about going to school because she doesn’t speak English. However, by the time she finishes her first day there, she decides that school is not as lonely, scary, or mean as she had thought. – Kathleen Thorner
Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes, 2000. A mouse named Wemberly, who worries about everything, finds that she has a whole list of things to worry about when she faces the first day of nursery school. – Kathleen Thorner
Good books for Older Readers (school experiences):
Ellie McDoodle: new kid in school by Ruth Barshaw, 2008.
Ellie writes and doodles in a journal of her family’s move to a new home and her struggle to make friends, which gets a lot easier as she leads a nonviolent protest about long lunch lines at school. – Kathleen Thorner
Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School by Candace Fleming, 2010.
An unlikely teacher takes over the disorderly fourth-grade class of Aesop Elementary School with surprising results. – Kathleen Thorner
How I Spent My Summer Vacation. By Mark Teague. Start the school year off with a laugh when your teacher asks YOU – how did you spend YOUR summer vacation? – CMNH Staff
How to be Cool in the Third Grade by Betsy Duffey, 1993. When Robbie York is marked as a target by a bully at school, he decides that the only way to survive the third grade is by being cool. – Kathleen Thorner
Justin Case: school, drool, and other daily disasters by Rachel Vail, 2010. Through his journal entries, Justin relates his daily worries as he goes through third grade. – Kathleen Thorner
Nikki and Deja by Karen English, 2007. When an arrogant new girl comes to school, third-graders and best friends Nikki and Deja decide to form a club that would exclude her but find the results not what they expected. – Kathleen Thorner
School Days According to Humphrey by Betty Birney, 2011. Humphrey the hamster is puzzled when unfamiliar students fill Mrs. Brisbane’s classroom at summer’s end, but he soon learns that his friends from last year are fine and that the new class needs his special help. – Kathleen Thorner
School!: adventures at the Harvey N. Trouble Elementary School by Kate McMullan, 2010. Each morning, student Ron Faster hurries to Harvey N. Trouble School, where he encounters such staff members as science teacher Ms. Roxanne Pebbles, music instructor Mrs. Doremi Fasollatido, and the resigning janitor Mr. Iquit. – Kathleen Thorner
Stuart’s Cape and Stuart Goes To School by Sara Pennypacker. Bored because there is nothing to do in the house to which his family has just moved and worried about starting third grade in a new school, Stuart makes a magical cape out of his uncle’s ties and has a series of adventures. – Kathleen Thorner and CMNH Staff
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger, 2010. Sixth-grader Tommy and his friends describe their interactions with an advice giving paper finger puppet of Yoda, worn by their weird classmate Dwight, as they try to figure out whether or not the puppet can really predict the future. – Kathleen Thorner