Thursday, November 12, 2009

If You Give a Mom a Book

I have long shied away from Winnie-The-Pooh. He has resembled commercialism and all-things-baby since I was pregnant with my first child. Call me the aniti-commercialism girl. You will not find a Winnie-The-Pooh mural, stuffed animal, and especially not a thread of a Tigger, Eeyore or Pooh outfit at the Granola house.

Until recently. The ban has officially been lifted.

I discovered that Winnie-The-Pooh is actually a classic, filled with endearing and memorable conversations. Situations that can easily be visualized in the theater of your mind; I would even go so far as to say applied to real life.

For example, allow your imagination to film this scene. You are entering the scene where Pooh Bear finds himself stuck in Rabbit’s front door from drinking too much honey and condensed milk. Rabbit, Christopher Robin, and Pooh are brainstorming ideas on how to “un-stuck” the plump bear.

“How long does getting thin take?” asked Pooh anxiously.

“About a week, I should think.”

“But I can’t stay here for a week!”

“We’ll read to you,” said Rabbit cheerfully.

“A week!” said Pooh gloomily. “What about meals?”

“I’m afraid no meals,” said Christopher Robin, “because of getting thin quicker. But we will read to you.”

Bear began to sigh, and then found he couldn’t because he was so tightly stuck; and a tear rolled down his eye, as he said:

“Then would you read a Sustaining Book, such as would help and comfort a Wedged Bear in Great Tightness?”

So for a week Christopher Robin read that sort of book at the North end of Pooh, and Rabbit hung his washing on the South end . . . and in between Bear felt himself getting slenderer and slenderer.

Besides being a verifiable classic story, Pooh Bear’s plea to be read a Sustaining Book provides an excellent example of what we should be reading to our children.

But what exactly is a Sustaining Book? Gladys Hunt, in her book Honey for a Child’s Heart, quotes Ruth Sawyer’s suggestion of “proper fare for a child’s mind” as

Stories that make for wonder. Stories that make for laughter. Stories that stir one within with an understanding of the true nature of courage, of love, of beauty. Stories that make one tingle with high adventure, with daring, with grim determination, with the capacity of seeing danger through to the end. Stories that bring our minds to kneel in reverence; stories that show tenderness of true mercy, the strength of loyalty, the unmawkish respect for what is good.

I highly recommend that you allow your eyes to devour Gladys Hunt’s book. The more I read this valuable resource, the more it makes me want to bring the library to my house and read to my children. It is because of her book and a fabulous lecture that I heard at the Hearts at Home Conference that I am starting my own weekly meme, If You Give A Mom A Book, a similar idea to the cute children’s book, If You Give a Mouse A Cookie.

If You Give A Mom A Book

I want to be held accountable. I want to encourage you and I want you to encourage me. I want to know about Sustaining Books that I can read to my kids.

It is through a book that I can encourage my child’s imagination to soar. Hunt says that “reading to a child is like painting on a canvas.” Whereas TV and videogames are akin to pornography for the youth, according to Richard Peck.

Stores can take us out of our comfort zones, somewhere we would never want to travel, but bring this unfamiliar place safely into our home where we can discuss it from a Biblical perspective and in an honest volley of thoughts. It is through Sustaining Books that we can begin to prepare our children for life by discussing if Curious George made a good decision when he emptied the full plastic containers in his refrigerator to win the recycling contest or if there was a better option. We can use an imaginary character in a Sustaining Book to address character flaws in ourselves or our children, without the child feeling attacked. Sustaining Books allow us to observe how choices affect others.

But even more important . . . reading with your child shows love. I don’t know of many other feelings so special as having that little body snuggled up next to you. Then the glorious moment happens when their body relaxes and their head leans against your shoulder, you smell their soft hair, and that little hand resides on your leg, ready to point out a particular detail in a picture, if there is a picture.

So often I get caught up on reading a book, and doing a lot of activities to have the boys remember the book or lesson. But I truly want to begin savoring our books. I desperately want this meme to foster a weekly dialogue and discussion of books that we all have enjoyed over the week.

Some things that you could discuss in your email to me or blog post would be:

  • What is one book that stood out to you this week?
  • What was the title of the book, and who were the author(s) and illustrator(s)?
  • What conversations did it spark between you and your child?
  • Did the book come up randomly in conversation at some point causing your child to create an application on their own?
  • Set the scene—where did you sit?
  • Did you have anything yummy to eat or drink while reading?
  • Was music playing?
  • How did reading together help your day?
  • What was the story about?
  • Did you like the illustrations?
  • What was your favorite part about snuggling?
  • Why was your book a Sustaining Book?

Read the book. Enjoy the book. Most importantly enjoy your children through the book. I am the queen of multitasking, often saying “Hold on a minute!” and getting “so busy” that the minute never comes. I want to have a lapbook in place, follow up video to compliment what we read, or outing planned with camera on hand.

Forget the props! Read and snuggle. Jump into Neverland!

Encourage us. Encourage me! I don’t what you to feel dumb for where you sat or what book you read. I don’t want you to feel like you are a lacking mom because you didn’t do such and such activity with your child to reinforce the book. The purpose is to enjoy.

Take a mental picture. Then, remember the moment with a blog post written after they have gone to bed. Ladies, this isn’t a comparison post or let me show you what I did—I want us to build each other up. Get your friends in on this . . . swap the books you are reading. Let’s be a community of readers to our kids.


  • Link up 1x a week. My goal is to post every Friday.
  • Pick one book—your favorite book from that week.
  • Use any one of the suggestions I listed above to include in your post.
  • Grab my button on the sidebar to compliment your blog post.
  • Enter the exact blog post address in Mr. MckLinky!
  • Leave me a comment that you linked up!

I can’t wait to read about your Sustaining Book!


Sarah said...


"Jump into Neverland!" love it, love it!

super-d-duper excited about this meme! I will be linking up for sure! I love books and love reading. The learning potential is endless!

Thanks for starting this!!!

Heather said...

What a great idea! I love it too:) My children will be so happy if I do this & the instant challenge. My kids thank you too for this idea. Simple & good.

Hi! My name is Janet. said...

I happen to LOVE winnie-the-pooh. But I just cannot bring myself to watch (or allow small children in my care to watch) the current version they show on tv. i tried reminding myself that the pooh i grew up on wasn't the original pooh (I happen to love that one, too), but this new pooh, I have decided, is no good. There's no christopher robin, instead there's a girl and her dog. And SHE RIDES A SCOOTER?! It breaks my heart :(

melanie said...

Looks like fun - I've been eager to see what you were up to with the button ;-)
Mixture of memories here... I'll have to budget my time better to share. I was better at read-aloud-for-fun when my Bigs were the Littles, kwim?

Conny said...

I'm in!!!! Our family LOVES books!!! We LOVE the classic Winnie-the-Pooh stories (have a huge book of original Milne writings) and other classics like Thomas the Tank Engine (also better read than watched on DVD though we have watched it some). Even when my husband deployed for a year, we video'd him reading so the kids could have their daily reading time with daddy. I loved reading what you wrote today - and can feel your fervor and excitement to do this! And your/our children will benefit too.

Mamma James said...

I'm in too! I can't wait to get new book ideas for reading to my kiddos and see what other moms are doing to give me encouragement! I agree that I get too busy some days and the minute to sit never comes, but I do strive for it...then life happens. So this meme will be encourgement and accoutability to read too! I am EXCITED! I first have to figure out how to "link up" and exactly what that all means so that I can follow the guidelines. :)