For the Moms

On Friday, I posted some books that I love that feature strong mothers. But today, on Mother’s Day, I wanted to talk about books I can read with my kids.

I have two small girls, ages 3 and 6, and a huge portion of our time is spent reading books. Lots of books aimed at small girls are kind of eye-rollingly bad (i.e. most books featuring Disney princesses or Saturday morning cartoon characters), and I have gritted my teeth through more readings than I can count of Belle and the Castle Puppy and Dora Saves the Enchanted Forest. But there’s also a huge selection of children’s books out there that we all enjoy, and whenever possible, these are the ones I try to nudge my kids toward.

Here’s just a few of our favorites.

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems

Why kids love it: They get to be in charge! At the beginning of the book, the Bus Driver assigns kids a single task: Don’t let the Pigeon drive the bus! The Pigeon then tries to convince the kids to let him drive the bus anyway, but the kids have to stick to their guns, and mine get a huge kick out of getting to yell “NO!” at the petulant Pigeon.

Why I love it: Contrary to what I feared when we first got this book, encouraging them to yell “No” at the pigeon didn’t increase the amount of “Nos” they dished out to me and my husband after reading it. Phew. The Pigeon attempts to argue why he should be allowed to drive the bus, starting with cajoling and negotiation, then breaking down into an all-out temper tantrum. The kids take great joy in not caving to pressure, then I can use it as an object lesson about how not to get what you want.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Why kids love it: They can relate to Alexander and his endless complaining, but they also realize that he’s being super-whiny. They can feel a little superior in that they never whine as much as Alexander.

Why I love it: Alexander is really over-the-top. He decides everything in his life is bad, even when it’s not, and I always make sure to call my kids’ attention to the fact that he’s making a big deal about things that aren’t actually so bad, then ask them what kind of reaction they should have in those same situations. In their eagerness to be the anti-Alexander, they actually come up with reasonable reactions to most of the situations in the book. Then later, when we find ourselves in those scenarios, I can remind them what they said they would do instead of complaining. Sometimes they even remember.

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems.

Why kids love it: The story of little Trixie’s attachment to her beloved Knuffle Bunny is one they can completely relate to.

Why I love it: The story of Trixie’s Daddy’s harried quest to find a lost toy at the laundromat is one I can completely relate to. Plus the way the cartoon images are incorporated into the black-and-white photographs of Brooklyn, along with Trixie’s parents’ exhausted but determined facial expressions, are really amusing from a parental perspective.

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

Why kids love it: They love hearing the baby bunny and the daddy bunny “compete” to see whose love is bigger. They giggle each time the daddy is able to top the biggest thing the baby can think of, and enjoy trying to come up with their own metaphors for how much they love me.

Why I love it: It’s a cute illustration of the depth of love between a parent and child, and about how it can be nearly unfathomable to a child how much their parents love them. Plus, I adore that it inspires my kids to try to put their own love into words: “Mommy, I love you all the way up to that big tree outside!”

Love You Forever by Robert Munsch

Why kids love it: They love the security this book gives them, knowing that even when they are grown up, we will still love them just as much as we do right now. They ask me all the time, “Mommy, will I still be your baby, even when I’m married with my own kids?” And this book is a perfect answer.

Why I love it: I can’t read this book without tearing up. Or even say that one heartwarming line: “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always; As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.” Because it’s so, so true.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, be your kids young or old, near or far. I hope they’re taking today to make you feel loved and appreciated.

Feature & Follow #96: Books with Strong Mother-Child Relationships

Welcome to Feature & Follow Friday, hosted by Parajunkee’s View and Alison Can Read!

I LOVED all the followers I gained last week as the feature. Thanks so much to all of you who participated and followed.

If you’re here for the hop, please follow via RSS, email, LinkyFollowers or Networked Blogs. All the options are in my sidebar. If you leave a comment letting me know you’re following, I’ll make sure to follow you in return. And if you decide to be SUPER-awesome and put my button in your sidebar, let me know and I’ll return the favor.

If you’re a pre-existing follower, hi! [waves]

And now for this week’s question:

This Sunday in the U.S. is Mother’s Day. In celebration, what are some of your favorite books with strong mother/child relationships?

This question was harder than it sounds. I’ve been thinking recently that most of the books I read lack strong parental relationships. It makes me kind of sad, especially since I’m a mom and would love for my kids to have some great books to read when they get older that exemplify a strong mother-child (and specifically mother-daughter) relationship.

That said, here’s a few I thought of:

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. The relationship between Marmee and her daughters is beautiful. The strong love between them is nearly palpable. She is their rock, their example, their leader, and their friend. This is one of the few examples I can think of where the children are never embarrassed or frustrated with their mother. They admire her and strive to emulate her as they grow up. I’d have a hard time coming up with a better example of what a mother-child relationship should be.


Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. There are at least two excellent examples of mothers in this series. The first is the obvious example of Molly Weasley. She dotes on her children and their friends, loves them unconditionally, and protects them fiercely. The second is Lily Potter, who Harry doesn’t even remember, but who possessed a love for him that was so strong, it defeated the most powerful dark wizard who ever lived.


Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon. In this book, we learn that Claire willingly gave up her life with Jamie, the love of her life, to protect her daughter, Brianna. She left behind her husband and soulmate to face certain death, then raised their daughter for the next 20 years never knowing her father. It takes Brianna a long time to understand the extent of what her mother did for her, but we, the readers, understand the depth of Claire’s love for Brianna that led her to such a significant sacrifice.


Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. This isn’t a “real” mother-daughter relationship, as Marilla initially requests Anne from the orphanage as a hired hand, and not as an adopted child. However, as Anne gradually wins her over, the bond between them slowly grows and deepens. Ultimately, the loving relationship between Anne and Marilla becomes strong enough to rival that of any biological mother-daughter pair.


Divergent by Veronica Roth. Kind of like with Dragonfly in Amber, Tris spends the majority of this book having no idea what her mother has done, and is willing to do, for her. Their relationship isn’t bad, but it’s not great. However, by the end, Tris is astounded by the inner strength that her mother possesses, and what she has sacrificed in her own life in order to be the kind of mother she wanted Tris to have.


I realized after putting this list together that the main themes in all these mother-child relationships are selflessness and sacrifice, accompanied by unconditional love.  I’d say that’s a pretty good summary of what it takes to be a mother.

Happy almost-Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!