We all know parenting is fraught with highs and lows and in a lot of situations we need to seek out further advice – be that poring over parenting books or sharing experiences in forums.
Through sheer chance I have stumbled across some story books that I think can be really useful in testing times.
There have been a few titles in Small Stuff’s library hauls which have helped us during some difficult patches.
“Mine” by Sue Heap
When Small Stuff turned 2 she hit the “Mine” stage hard. Not only would she not share, she couldn’t abide to see any children playing with toys in her presence! No matter if they were her toys or not she would snatch and scream and try to keep everything for herself. It made playdates and toddler groups unbearable.
“Mine” is a very simple story, you’ll have heard it in various guises many times before (child doesn’t want to share, squabbling ensues due to not sharing, realisation that everyone is ultimately happier when no one is being selfish.)
The book does a great job of making this familiar tale easy for Small children to understand. The text Is short and simple, punctuated by the word “Mine.” The large illustrations convey emotion clearly, Small Stuff would comment about how the baby brother in the book looked sad when his sister snatched the toys away and how happy everyone looked playing together at the end. I do think reading this book regularly had some impact on developing Small Stuff’s willingness to share.
“Too small for my big bed” by Amber Stewart
I used to tell myself that as long as we all got a good night’s sleep, I was doing the right thing. Small Stuff was regularly brought into our bed if she woke in the night. We didn’t really persevere in trying to get her to go back to sleep in her own room. We just tucked her in with us knowing she’d be asleep again in minutes. But as she got older the arrangement became less comfortable and me and Mr Stuff would be waking with bad backs and sore necks.
When stirring in the night, Small Stuff stopped asking for milk or a cuddle and just screamed for the big bed. It got to the point where she would resist going down in her own bed altogether so I’m glad we discovered Too Small for my Big Bed around this time.
The story is about Piper the tiger cub who feels much happier snuggled up with his mummy than sleeping in his own bed. Mummy tiger cleverly instills feelings of confidence, independence and security in her “clever little cub” and encourages him to stay in his own bed all night.
After reading this story at bedtime Small Stuff would be keen to tell me that she was a “clever little cub” and could stay in bed all night just like Piper. If she woke I’d tell her “snuggle up just like Piper” over the monitor and it actually worked!
Even now, roughly a year on from having this book she says “You’re not far away are you, mummy?” when I tuck her in, which is a line borrowed from the book.
“The paper dolls” by Julia Donaldson
This book took me by surprise. It is not the usual Julia Donaldson rhyming romp. This beautiful story touches on the delicate subject of loss, treasured memories and how nothing lasts forever but there’s always more joy to be found. Difficult concepts for a 3 year old to understand but conveyed very cleverly by the destruction of some beloved paper dolls and an illustration of them ending up in a little girl’s memory- a beautiful wood with past possessions scattered around and a kind Granny knitting amongst the trees. When I got to this page I’ll admit to feeling a little choked up! This is by no means a sad story that will upset your child though, it’s very sweet, has a fun rhyme throughout and may prompt some discussion about loss and finding comfort in memories.
We had a little chat and a giggle after reading this. Small Stuff was reminded of her nana’s dear departed dog and it’s habit of licking people’s eyebrows.
When she is next affected by loss, be it big or small, this is a book I will refer back to.
Have you come across any story books which have helped you and your child through a difficult period? I’d love it if you’d share them with me.