Reading often to your child is simply good parenting, whether you want to raise an ecowarrior or otherwise. But what you read your child is going to have a significant effect–whether romantic princess tales, construction books, dinosaur stories, or eco-themed stories. Plus the pacing, and how chaotic the book is may have an influence too. As I’ve read to Ayhan over the past 19 months I have found a common set of traits that make for a good book (although I’m sure I’m missing some so feel free to suggest additions):
- My son pays attention and is excited (even at just the mention of the title or a key element “Do you like green eggs and ham?”)
- The book is positively themed or at least not negatively so.
- It is colorful, playful, interesting. Moving parts are a real plus from 12-19 months old (and I’m guessing beyond too.)
- It doesn’t fall apart. Board books or at least strong paper is a big plus at this stage.
- It keeps me entertained, with lots of subtle elements of pictures to discover or well-crafted, rhythmic prose.
- And most importantly, I don’t want to gouge my eyes out when asked to read it five times in a row.
This list will develop over time (and include hyperlinks to blog post reviews if available or a bookseller if not) but so far these books have met with success:
- Run Home Little Mouse: First book I’ve found that’s somewhat ecologically accurate, with the mouse running away from predators, rather than trying to befriend them. Plus it’s got cool holes in the pages.
- Little Owl Lost: A nice little story, set in the woods. Yes, prey species are helping predators but still better than trucks destroying the planet.
- Spring is Here: Quiet, calming–almost a Zen meditation. A relaxing and pretty flow through the four seasons.
- The Foot Book: What rhythm!
- Bear on a Bike: A nice story, easy to read 10 times in a row.
- Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? Super fun, even for a 1-year old, and very interactive at 1.5 years old.
- Go Away Big Green Monster: Very interactive book. Cute too.
- Good Night Moon: While the kid may suffer from OCD, having to say goodnight to every object in his room, it’s still cute.
- Good Night Gorilla: If you ignore the abysmal conditions the animals are kept in, this is a super cute book.
- Eric Carle Enterprises: Eric Carle is so prolific that I’m only giving him one bullet for now (mainly out of time limitations). Some of our favorites: Do You Want to Be My Friend?; The Very Busy Spider; The Very Hungry Caterpillar; From Head to Toe; and of course, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
As Ayhan gets older I hope these books can be added to the list:
- The Lorax: Nothing needs saying on this one.
- Should I Share My Ice Cream Cone? The best (and cutest) introduction to utilitarianism I’ve seen.
- I Stink, which normalizes, even celebrates a completely screwed up materials system, with all garbage going to the dump .
- Digger, Dozer, Dumper: not only does this reinforce our construction fetish, but it revels in the accompanying eco-destruction, with steamrollers running over turtles, bulldozers knocking over trees, and so on. I grind my teeth every time I read it.
- Trucks: Not as bad as the above, but also celebrating trucks and ripping up the planet in the name of growth–avoid if possible.
- Diggers Go: A bunch of trucks making noise, tolerable but not enjoyable.
- Plow! Plant! Grow! A book/advertisement for John Deere tractors and industrial agricultural processes. I hope John Deere had to pay for this rather than getting a royalty.
- Other to be added as I discover them.