Want to make reading with your kids more fun (for both you and kiddo)? The books of Mo Willems are sure to please, says Sassy Mama Jennifer
I value reading to my kids. Really, I do. But at the end of a typical day with my kiddos, with all the ups and downs and silly faces and whiny voices, I’m flat out exhausted and the last thing I want to do is read long books to the bubs. I feel horrible saying it, but with dishes to do and the hope of a precious few moments of mommy time before bed, and maybe even some hubby time (gasp!), I have been known to skip a page here and there, insist upon a shorter book, and limit the number of books we read each night.
But I am a teacher. I know what reading together will instill in them—a good sense for grammar, inspiration for whimsy and imaginary things, and a love for books in general. This love for books can translate to all manner of learning in the future. On top of that, reading with the kiddos gives me the chance to push their minds just a bit, ask them what they think will happen next, talk about the author and illustrator, discuss the choices the characters make in the books which in turn gives them a chance to develop as independent thinkers.
I am super thankful for the wide range of fiction and non-fiction books the National Library carries for kids. In any given trip, I come home with a book on weather patterns, cylinders, measuring (did I mention I am a math teacher?), trucks, lions, Mandarin vocabulary and pictures… and then a few books by Mo Willems. His books have reinvigorated our bedtime book routine because I am excited to read them! They are cute, creative, interesting, and they have that subtext that makes it fun for parents as well. He has a number of series based on particular characters, and a load of other books besides.
One of his characters is called Pigeon. Pigeon tends to be like a stereotypical kid, as you can tell from a handful of Pigeon book titles:
- The Pigeon Loves Things That Go!
- The Pigeon Needs a Bath! (I Do Not!)
- The Pigeon Wants a Puppy! (I Really Do!)
I haven’t read them all, but an all-time favorite is Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! In this book, a bus driver leaves the reader in charge of preventing the pigeon from driving the bus while he is gone. The pigeon pulls out all the stops, pleading with the reader to allow him to drive the bus. My 4-year-old daughter loves shouting “No!” with every new request. I love being reminded of my own childhood and the whining I unleashed upon my mother when I wanted permission to do something. It truly is a riot. Fingers crossed my girl doesn’t pick up any techniques!
Willems also writes about Piggie and Elephant, two friends who grapple with topics like jealousy, kindness, sharing, and communicating:
My current favorite is Waiting Is Not Easy! In this book, Piggie has a surprise for Gerald (the elephant) but he must wait for it. My daughter loves this book because of the emotion Gerald expresses, and I love the book because it gives me a reference to use with my daughter when I need her to wait patiently for something.
The National Library stocks many of Willems’ other books as well. My husband and I couldn’t stop giggling at Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs. My daughter enjoyed it well enough, but many of the jokes were something only a parent would find funny. The National Library even has a biography of Mo Willems that was written by Abby Colich. As a Chicago native, I was thrilled to see he was born in Des Plaines, Illinois, not far from where I grew up. It was great to share this book with my daughter so she could learn more about the person behind the stories.
Check his books out the next time you pop into the library; they will breathe new life into your evenings. If you want to check him out right now, visit his website for info and games for kids. If your kiddo likes the pigeon as much as mine does, there is even an app for Ipad that helps kids create their own pigeon stories. Such a fantastic way to extend the fun and the learning experience!