By Sharon Marcus
It’s late in the afternoon. You’re tired. The kids are tired too. It’s really simpler to plug them into their favorite TV show or Wii game. Sound familiar? There are those “need some down time” days that call for nothing more, but if this routine is becoming a daily occurrence, it may be time to reassess – the content, if not the activity itself.
If we want to raise children with manners, who are compassionate and tolerant of others, it’s important to provide consistent examples so this behavior becomes inherent. If we want them to be worldly, or care about reading, it helps to expose them to a broad spectrum of experiences and media. But where to begin?
Give Some Love to your Local Library
My toddler first fell in love with the library because he could climb on the stepstools and yell, “I’m high!” when he got to the top of them. Not optimal (actually, supremely embarrassing) – and it’s all we did for our first two visits there. But now he’s loving story time and the arts and crafts that follow (and he’s learning to be quiet when someone else is addressing a group), and he’s super excited for story time at night as he picked out some of the books himself. We hope that taking him to the library on a weekly basis will inspire a love of reading that will last.
Choose Books with a Tolerant, Kind Message
Pare down the usual cast of cartoon characters and try adding books like these to the mix:
Whoever You Are by Leslie Staub is a great option for teaching toddlers that children are the same, all over the world, even though we look different and lead vastly different lives.
A book like Unstoppable Me!: 10 Ways to Soar through Life by Wayne W. Dwyer not only inspires confidence, but helps your child to understand what it takes to be successful – you can even purchase it as a “read to me” book for your iPhone or iPad.
Make the Act of Giving Second Nature
Start by donating a toy or book when a new one arrives at your home and you’re off to a strong start.
In Grover’s 10 Terrific Ways to Help Our Wonderful World, Elmo gives his old tricycle to Baby Natasha when he gets his big boy bicycle (and numerous other recycling efforts are explored). Pearson Foundation runs an amazing website, http://www.wegivebooks.org, that allows you to both read a wide variety of books online with your child, and you can choose the organization on whose behalf you wish to read. Help your children to share books with children who need them and explore books you may not have otherwise picked up, all at the same time!
Explore the Neighborhood, Then the World!
As a savvy reader, you’re probably aware of a multitude of museums and cultural centers in your area with rotating collections of items to broaden your kids’ horizons. So get out and about the neighborhood or even just explain how your address relates to your neighborhood, and the state, and the world!
One mom blogger at Keep Them Busy created these great envelopes each with a larger portion of the Google map surrounding her home to illustrate this concept.
Why not post a big map on the wall from National Geographic for a daily global reminder, or try out the fabulous collection of “This Is…” books from author Miroslav Sasek – each book highlights a major city around the world (the incredible illustrations also make for great framed wall art). You don’t need an expensive plane ticket for your kid to excitedly shout, “Look, Big Ben!”
Just jump in. You’ll be surprised at how excited your kids will get about something you are so excited to share with them!
Sharon Marcus blogs daily at http://mamadoitall.blogspot.com.