Children's Books, Parenting, Reading

Books to Spark Imaginative Play

It’s time to pull out the books that make your kids gush with ideas of what to do this summer! I historically have no trouble thinking of summer activities because summer and I are the best of friends. But this year I’ll be pregnant through July, most likely, it gets really, really hot here, and my children are not taking naps much anymore. The days might seem a little longer come July and a new baby. Here are the books we like for sparking imagination. A note: these books are mostly for kids ages 3-6. If you have ideas for older kids, please share! One Busy Day: A Story for Big Brothers and Sisters

One Busy Day by Lola M. Schaefer is my favorite find of the month. The illustrations by Jessica Meserve are beautiful and illuminate for the readers what the children were doing in real life and what they were imagining they were doing at the same time. Big brother Spencer starts out disinterested in the activities of Mia, his younger sister. Mia wants him to play with her, but she gives up after a while. When Mia decides to have fun by herself, Spencer becomes enthralled with her imaginative play. By the end of the book, they are side-by-side fighting dragons and saving their castle. Oh, I love it! My two-year-old son and four-year-old daughter enjoy this book, too. =) 13494876

The very popular Ladybug Girl series is also great for showing children how much fun can be had with a little bit of creativity. In the first book of the series, Ladybug Girl, Lulu’s family is too busy to play with her and she has to find some things to do by herself. My children’s favorite is Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy. I appreciate how it shows two children working out their differences in what they like to do for fun. By the end, Lulu and her friend, Sam, are having so much fun, other children ask if they can play along. Apparently, I am a fan of books where children make their own fun and bring other children into the realm of imagination, too. 399891

There have been days when Ella uses A Fire Engine for Ruthie as a to-do list. Ruthie is a little girl who has a penchant for trucks. Her Nana has other ideas of what would be fun. Ruthie turns dress up into a rescue operation, paints fire trucks instead of flowers, and so on. Finally, Nana comes around to Ruthie’s way of thinking. It’s a fun book for any girl, tomboy or not (and my little girl is decidedly not a tomboy), and an especially good book for girls with brothers who need ideas on how to mesh their play styles together.

Speaking of play styles, my husband and I generally agree that TV and movies dumb down our children’s ability to entertain themselves. The more they watch, the less they can think of anything to do when the TV is turned off. However, I’ve got to say that one viewing of Disney’s Tangled provides at least a week of imaginative play for both our children…together! Especially if we turn on the soundtrack. Somehow, Tangled is the perfect mix of a princess movie with guy things like a a cool horse named Maximus and a daring hero that plays more than a fleeting part in the story. It’s our movie of choice for those days when we just need some down time. We just went to the library this morning and loaded up on more books. I’m hoping those will be inspiring to my children, too. If you have any ideas of other books that bring out the best in your children’s creativity, let me know!

Need more ideas for children’s books? Check out the 31 Days Series for lots of great read-aloud books for kids!

Everyday Life, Parenting

Dust Bunnies Are Cute

Confession: I don’t really struggle with the dreaded dust bunny problem. I keep hearing about how they multiply and bring friends and they just won’t go away. Apparently, they are a real nuisance for some people.

I am not one of those people.

I look at my furniture and think, yeah, you’re probably under there, having a party, but I don’t really care. Dear Dust Bunnies, you are the least of my concerns.

Maybe I’m the worst housekeeper in the world, but let me be honest for a few minutes. I don’t have time to worry about sweeping out dust from where no one sees it, because I can’t walk across the kitchen floor without losing a flip flop on that sticky spot I keep meaning to mop. I think it might be spilled cereal milk from yesterday morning, but it could also be residue from the smoothie my son knocked over. Four days ago. (On an aside, residue is such a pleasant word when what you’re talking about can be anywhere from tree sap to bacon grease. It’s almost like a housekeeping euphemism).

I don’t have time to worry about sweeping up hidden dust– I’m too busy saying, “I don’t know why you don’t have any clean socks, Mr. Mia, but it’s probably because I spent a large chunk of time today scrubbing the kids’ bathroom, trying to figure out what in the world that smell is.”

Yes, the dust bunnies are probably under there, but I somehow accumulated four house plants in the space of three weeks, bringing our grand total of house plants to…four. So you see, I’m kind of busy watering house plants. Maybe that’s why my house plants always die! The dust bunnies feed on them in the middle of the night!

MayItellthetruthI’m not saying one shouldn’t dust her home. I’m just surprised at the number of people who have energy to worry about that sort of endeavor. If your only problem in your housekeeping is dust bunnies, you are one of my homekeeping heroes. I’m envious of your 95% clean home. I hope to be you one day, but not as long as I have a potty training two-year-old, a four-year-old with mad art skills, and a stomach the size of a basketball.

But if, just if, you’re talking about dust bunnies but really you’re thinking about the mold that might be growing at the bottom of your laundry pile, then let’s leave the cute lint animals under the couch and admit that we have a lot of other concerns growing way faster than fluffy imaginary pests. Such as the fact that allergy-ridden toddlers often feel free to use the couch as a snot rag. Now that is a problem.

And it’s okay to be honest about it. In fact, it would make me and probably one or 4,000 other moms out there feel a lot better about their own homekeeping struggles. May I suggest that you make May your May I Tell The Truth? month. I’ll be joining you here, in this space where you’ll often hear about books but just as often hear about the learning curve that never ends on the parenting journey. It’s going to be a blast. Honestly.

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