Thursday, October 06, 2011

What We Read to our Sons

Sometimes... some site will release a LIST OF TOP CHILDREN'S BOOKS and I'd see parents (mostly Moms) reacting to the list with "Oh no, we only have 7 from the list... Shucks, we only have 20."

I get how such lists can be helpful, especially for prospective gift-givers or really clueless parents. But I'd rather a parent reads something first and gauges if the book will be something her child will like, or if it has actual content (not just pretty pictures).

I know, I am a little negative about such things. Or maybe defensive, because I really tend to buy the not-so-common books and also don't like super expensive ones (so yes, I am a Booksale loyalist). Recently, a list of 100 books came out and I realized I wouldn't buy a lot of those in the list because I don't have a girl. So, I told my friends, let's just all come up with our own list of books we recommend and why.

Before I get to that, allow me to share some of those that we do have, with some comments about them. I had intended to really take pictures of all the books but I lost steam. Plus, I couldn't find the others without unsettling dust and toys because our books are just everywhere!

These cost me P30 each and I usually get them at the Manila International Book Fair. It's an easy read if you want quick stories with values and since the characters are animals, they can be quite entertaining to a child.

How can you have a boy and not have books on trucks? These are a steal at P25 each, bought at Uniwide in Las Pinas.

Hug was bought in Booksale... and I got annoyed when I saw a smaller version because this one is super heavy. Board book kung board book :D The Snugliest Snuggle in the World book was a gift.

Are You My Mother? is usually in parents' reading list. Yakee likes this because of the crane :D SNORT!!!

I had thought, buying Goodnight Moon would inspire Yakee to start saying goodnight to little things before he sleeps... like I used to do when I was young. But no.

Eric Carle's art is brilliant. But I really don't like THE VERY HUNGRY CATTERPILLAR much and think his books are overpriced. Yakee prefers THE VERY BUSY SPIDER (which I got at Booksale for P60) and I encourage it because it tackles industry, diligence, purpose and rewards for hard labor/delaying gratification. Haha. I am such a parent! And yes, I so lack interest in art.

What is a house with kids without a Nursery Rhymes book? And at age 3, Yakee has memorized and can recite all the rhymes in that blue book just from hearing me read. I love it when he recites "Simple Simon" :) The blue and red books cost P125 each from National Bookstore... the 3 ones on the right cost P25 each from Booksale. From those, Yakee loves "Three Little Kittens," I think because the exacting Mommy Kitten is so ME :D

These are a set of 15 books by Anvil Publishing on the Mga Kwento ni Lola Basyang series. I bought them because I wanted to raise Yakee knowing Filipino culture but I have to say I don't like most of them. Maybe it's too simplistic of me but I feel there are no lessons or point to some of the stories. They're just stories. The art is good to great, but I really only like three from this lot (the three on top: "Ang Mahiwagang Biyulin" [the first and only storybook I could 'tell' in complete sign language], "Ang Binibining Tumalo sa Mahal na Hari" and "Ang Prinsepeng Mahaba ang Ilong"... fortunately, they're ones Yakee liked too. I say LIKED because we go through phases with books... sometimes, I have to read the same book for only 2 nights in a row, sometimes, for a whole month. We are currently on an "Alamat ng Lamok" and "Ang Pitong Tanga" phase (I like that cleanliness is being emphasized in the Alamat ng Lamok book, but I always feel off when I have to read about the king slaying the giant's son).

Yakee knows the videos/movies by heart, it was only logical to reinforce with books. Plus, I am sure he could relate to George's curiosity. This photo is missing some three others on Curious George that we have. I have also resisted in buying the compilations because Yakee insists reading on a per book basis :D

These are some of the books with popular cartoon characters. Hubs questioned the Care Bears books but I was such a fan and the books are about caring and sharing so.... :) The Looney Tunes baby book on shapes, imagination and self-discovery cost P35 each. And Yakee loves it when I read books with Elmo in it because my voice impression is right on the money.

I couldn't locate the other dinosaur books, but trust me, we have more. And unfortunately for us (a little), Yakee has outgrown the picture books and insists on us reading TWO CHAPTERS at least in that dinosaur book at the top, right. He is past identifying and differentiating dinosaurs, he's now into what their day could be like, how they hunted, how they escaped predators. And he really always thanks me for buying me that book, haha.

I like these transparency series by Scholastic and Yakee, of course, loves the one on castles. This was what started him using the word 'game' for "hunted birds" and knowing what a keep (most protected part of the castle, usually the inner/biggest tower) is. How geeky, right? Love it!

Are you still with me? Haha. I am so bloody tired already from this blog post!

Okay, I am such a geek and we started going through this when he was two. I wanted an expanded vocabulary... and got it.

This was given by my Mom and Yakee is still trying to learn to follow the numbers and play the song right on the keys. It contains a lot of rhymes/songs he knows.

Love these books especially Louis Lion Sings Good Night, and I bought it for hubby to read because it's about a Dad hurrying home so he could prepare his cubs for bed. I read and sign Charlie Bird Counts to the Beat (it's more a counting book than a storybook) :)

Other boy books/reference books... The one on Knights and Castles is really a great resource because now, Yakee at least has heard of samurais, Knights Templar, Seljuk Turks, etc and knows the rudiments of jousting, has been introduced to feudalism (and war and slavery, eeepp!), etc. Hopefully, he'd ace World History at least, someday.

Sleeping Beauty? WTH, right? Haha. I actually bought this because I used to have the exact same book as a child and dreamed of having a wedding gown patterned from Beauty's gown here. Lolz. But Yakee wanted me to read it to him, so, why not? We have a board book about Ariel (mermaid) too.


We are not very religious though we've been more faithful about attending Church this year. But every child should learn about faith from their parents... and these kiddie Bibles help. Of course, Yakee's fave story is the one of David and Goliath.

This is a classic I had to have because I like the lesson the VELVETEEN RABBIT was taught... that toys (people) with sharp edges or are too fragile don't become real (loved).

The MAGIC SCHOOL BUS makes Science fun and already, Yakee has been introduced to so many scientific ideas through these storybooks. I like that he remembers anchovies are small fish that are eaten by tuna (big fish), that baking soda and vinegar produces chemical reactions akin to explosions, that bats hang upside down, that plants grow when watered and get sunlight, etc.

These books helped me prepare Yakee to becoming a big brother. He especially loved to realize that Yamee grew inside my tummy ("Naku, Nakuu, Nakuuu" book by Adarna has this fetus chart/drawings). And when he's getting upset about all the liberties we're allowing Yamee, I read the "I'm a Big Brother" book by Joanna Cole to make him realize that being a big brother also means he can do things the baby still can't.

I was the one who first fell in love with Amelia Bedelia and bought the 3-in-1 Treasury... and weirdly enough, Yakee at 1 year old liked me reading it. He even has a video of pretending to read it, and then the book fell, and he was upset... and he wasn't even talking straight yet. It's really a series of books on figures of speech and homonyms and idiomatic expressions, definitely not for babies, but Yakee continues to love the books. I think I am missing 2 books in this picture.

I love OMF Lit's "Sandosenang Sapatos" and cried when I read the story from a parenting mag so I just had to buy a copy of the storybook. I even gave nieces and nephews a copy one Christmas. And "Joey and the Veggie Gang" was one of Yakee's favorites and a great reference point for when I have to reinforce vegetable eating and why junk food is only for some of the time. I am not really a fan yet of the Teo series, plus Grace Chong's and Dr. Luis Gatmaitan's storybooks tend to be really wordy (and technical) so they're really more for older kids. But I bought the "Half and Half" book because I wanted Yakee to learn to share. I bought the Gatmaitan storybooks because I wanted the lessons on brushing (Ay, May Bukbok ang Ngipin ni Ani), pet ownership (Waaah! Nakagat Ako ng Aso) and still having fun even while you're sick (Yakkk, Bulutong Tubig). I also like "Gaya's Gift" because it teaches a child to be himself.

And oh, everyone should hear my husband read BIG BROTHER (a book on having a special needs sibling)... he makes this great Kuya Tinuy voice that gives the story such life.

Of course, I have Adarna storybooks. I did not attend a storytelling seminar with them for nothing... Yakee's fave (gift by my friend Tere) is "Luis and the Enchanted Creatures" (not in this photo, couldn't locate it) and it's such a brilliant book on local enchanted creatures such as the tikbalang and aswang. I'm not sure if I like the jibe on a woman's temperament though... but it's refreshingly authentic and full of Pinoy flavor. I also like "Chenelyn, Chenelyn" because it advocates better treatment of nannies/helpers and not to rely on them so much. "Ang Lihim ni Lea" is a storybook on child abuse (of course, I had to buy it) and I do feel awkward reading it to Yakee (and I have, several times, I just say, "father was not treating the girl well" and leave it at that... hopefully, when my boys are old enough to understand, they'd also appreciate that children and women should be protected and respected). "Si Pagong at si Matsing" and "Ang Mayang Uhaw" are classics from my own childhood days which I wanted Yakee to grow knowing. He loves the bird book because I made crude puppets out of board paper for the birds, made them drink from a cup etc. It made the book real to him and appreciated that some work has to be done for a little bird to be able to drink. It also teaches basic Math (counting) and Science (volume). "Tiktaktok at Pikpakbum" is also another classic and reinforces brotherly love and healthy habits. "Ang Barumbadong Bus" was also one of Yakee's early faves and I reference to it when we're on the road and Pappie is driving carefully or if I feel Yakee is running too fast. "Tight Times" is highly-recommended for its lessons on making the most of and being grateful for what you have. I think every household should have a copy so that kids will appreciate the abundance they enjoy. Plus, the characters in this storybook are mice (my friend Tere pointed it out to me, that it's a play on the expression "mahirap pa sa daga")

"No Matter What" by Debi Gliori. I honestly prefer this find to Guess How Much I Love You (which is why I have never bought a copy, nor ever asked for one) and Love You Forever (which we have, couldn't locate it for a picture). Yakee also doesn't quite appreciate Love You Forever (we read it 3 times, max, and I had to insist on all those times) but could relate to Small in this book and I could relate to Large as she assures Small that "grumpy or not, she'd always love him NO MATTER WHAT." Parents would especially appreciate how their conversation ends, when Large (the mom) talks about love even when they're not together anymore. Bought at Booksale for P95.

In Grandma's Arms by Jayne Shelton. I have to admit to something: when I read this to Yakee, I say "In Mama's arms" instead. The book basically talks about how reading takes her places (thanks to Grandma/Mama) and I know, I am reinforcing reading as a bonding tool, as well as a liberating tool for the imagination. Got this at Booksale, I forgot how much but most probably around P70.

Given by my friend Tere again, Dogfish by Gillian Shields is such a nice book. Moms and kids alike can relate with the Mom in the book ("Well, if you can't have what you want, you could try to want what you have.") and will be encouraged to make faces (irritated look, sorrowful look, happy look). Love, love it!

Aaaannnd the cream of the crop for me. This was a gift by my friend and Yakee's Ninang. I HOPE YOU DANCE is a book that takes off from the song of the same title, written by the same lyricists (Mark D. Sanders and Tia Sillers). It is just really such a lovely book that reminds a child to be a child (and even adults to be child-like), to see the world with wonder, to rise above conflicts and just really enjoy life... with lines like:

"I hope whenever one door closes,
you and Trina follow your noses.
Never lose sight of what you're searching for.
Turn left, then right, then left once more
until you find another open door..."

We still have other books (Fairy Tales, Tales of Beedle the Bard, other character books from cartoons like Blues Clues or Sesame Street, alphabet and counting books, Joy Wilt Berry books, Christmas, Easter and Halloween books, etc) but I did say I lost steam right?

What is the point of this post aside from documenting just how we're running out of space in our home? A lot, I hope, but if they're lost on you, here they are:

1) Invest in books and read them to your child as often as you can. As much as you can, never turn them away when they ask to be read to. It helps develop their verbal/language skills and instill a love for reading/learning... plus, it is just a great bonding time. Plus, books are 'gifts' that you sort of enjoy again and again and again.

2) There is no need to buy expensive books, or even new ones. Save your money. Save the trees. And a truly good book will be loved, whether it was new or not.

3) Other people's or institution's lists are good but highly subjective, including this one. And sometimes, the books that end on those lists are not really worth the expense or there could be others of the same kind that are just as good (or better). Example? Karen Katz books.

4) Play to your child's interests and he will be excited to be read to, and later on, learn to read.

5) Reinforce your faith, discipline, beliefs, etc. through books. If you don't like a particular show, don't have books on that. (Which is why we don't have any Spongebob books, and why I also threw a copy of "Jack and the Beanstalk" away)

6) Start with books for their age to set them up for success (being able to 'get it') but feel free to also read other books they show interest in. What's wrong is for you to push encyclopedias on a child who still likes looking at pictures.

7) Talk about the book after reading it. Reference to it whenever you can. Make the books real to them so that the things in the books will also be more accessible ideas/relevant experiences to your child.

8) Suffer/Embrace the phases. I know it can get quite tiring to read the same story day in and out BUT that's really how they learn the book. A big library would be useless if your child didn't feel a connection with most of the books there. Plus, your child is making memories with you and of you per book aside from learning the book well.

9) Buy relevant books... and that means a lot of local ones. This is one way of instilling a love for our culture and nation.

10) Teach your child to respect and take care of books. A baby will try to rip pages, so yes, buy them board books. but also, be firm and consistent in putting books on timeout when they are not being carefully handled. Yakee learned very early that books are sacred, so I'm sure your child can too.

11) Have your own books that your children will see you reading. They have to see you engrossed in reading to reinforce the passon for it.

Happy reading everyone!!! And here's to raising voracious readers.


Anonymous said...

Mekya, if you happen to see my mom anywhere, ask her this: "tita sally, alam nyo po yung book na "Are You My Mother?".... wahahaha... --- len

Tessa said...

Loved your blog mec! We bought Adarna books for Agatha again- she loves the "May Higante sa Aming Bahay" - kabisado na niya si Kuya Utoy, Ate Linggit, at Matt-Matt. At ang nanay sa book- si Nanay Tessa hahahaha- sexy yung drawing doon hahahaha

MamaMia said...

Love your library sis! I have some titles on your library and I'll be off to the bookstore to get other books that I don't have yet that looks interesting from your list para maka-add on ours.


Carol - The Lazy Mama said...

Wow Mec! I love your book collection. I do not want to buy a bookcase because I know I'd be filling it up with more books but this post inspired me to buy more books.

I'm also looking at the homeschooling option and I'm glad that our sons are at almost the same age. Still undecided because of my unstructured self but I'd really love to homeschool our son. Good luck to us!

geWi said...

ang dami! i skimmed a bit harhar. samen, si gavin na namimili ng libro.. kasi pag ayaw nya , hindi nya talaga babasahin haha.

he loves the elephant and piggie series by Mo Willems.. he currently has 3, super sawa na ako, kelangang madagdagan na LOL.

try to check it out, i'm sure magugustuhan rin ni yakee!

Truly Rich Mom aka Teacher Mama Tina said...

LOVE this post Mec! You're so masipag ha! haha! ;-) We have a lot of "books in common" pala. hehe. I wanted to write a similar post but just thinking about all the books we have (BOOKSALE lovers unite! hehe!) makes me feel lazy already! LOL! ;-) Books for Less has some great options too, and sometimes have cheaper versions than Booksale ;-)

Let's advocate the love for reading more and more! Sana nga we could set up good libraries talaga in the Philippines! ;-)