Reading to Your Child

Random kid's book cover from the late 1800s (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Random kid’s book cover from the late 1800s (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

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):

  1. 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?”)
  2. The book is positively themed or at least not negatively so.
  3. It is colorful, playful, interesting. Moving parts are a real plus from 12-19 months old (and I’m guessing beyond too.)
  4. It doesn’t fall apart. Board books or at least strong paper is a big plus at this stage.
  5. It keeps me entertained, with lots of subtle elements of pictures to discover or well-crafted, rhythmic prose.
  6. 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:


  • 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.


 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>