Anyone who knows me knows I am a bit of a bookworm. Reading is a huge part of my life and when my kids were born I knew I wanted to pass that on. So reading is a daily part of our bedtime routine and my oldest two kids now love to read before bed all on their own!
In addition to offering escapism and adventure, books offer amazing opportunities to learn! I turn to books to help my kids through certain changes like moving to a new home, welcoming a new baby, visiting grandparents, going to the dentist, and more! When welcoming our second baby we got a book called The New Baby by Mercer Mayer. This book was a sweet, simple way to introduce how to interact with a new baby and we used this book again when welcoming babies three and four as well.
It got me thinking that there have to be many great books out there that serve this purpose and I thought I'd ask about that in my interview with Abbie Hibler, owner of Little Readers Book Boxes:
How many kids do you have? 2
Did you use books to help your older child understand the coming changes?
Yes, I used books throughout pregnancy and especially when baby 2 arrived! My first had all my attention for over two years and had to adapt to this new little nugget that required a lot of my attention.
Can books help older children prepare to welcome a new sibling? Of course. Books are great way to introduce kids to a topic in a way that removes them as the direct protagonist.
How? By reading a book about welcoming a new baby into your home, or anything really, moving, going to a new school, kids normalize the situation and see how others experience it. It like for us adults, when we do something the first time (like remember those first few weeks when you moved abroad, everything was new and overwhelming!) kids feel that way. So books are phenomenal way of introducing concepts, changes, etc in a gentle way where they can think about it before actually experiencing it.
Is there a certain timeframe that expecting parents should plan to introduce these books?
Anytime, but those last few weeks before the baby comes are especially important. As the changes are becoming more apparent… the crib is getting set up, mom’s belly is getting much bigger, etc. Those special moments before the sibling comes home are important for bonding and gently introducing this new reality.
What books did you personally use or would you recommend for parents to ease kids into the idea of bringing home a new baby?
- For toddlers - "We are Having a Baby” - Which is a board book with flaps and little moveable features little fingers to explore! (this is a new book, so I didn’t actually use it for my kids, but since I look at books all day, I came across this one and loved it and have given it to many friends who were expecting their second, third…)
- For sure my hands down favorite was Lola Reads to Leo
- One of my favorite ‘books’ was looking back at my first child’s baby photos. Showing her how small she was, what she did, what I did, and now how since she was ‘so big’ she could help do all these things with her little sister.
Do you have any kids books recommendations for families planning to adopt a baby or older child and how to prepare children for that shift?
The publishing world has really taken some large steps forward recently in terms of inclusive books.
- Wolfie is one go my kids favorite books. It is so cute and funny. I love that it all about adoption in way that shows families (including animal families) are made of love and how siblings always drive us crazy!
- Blanket Bears is more indepth and directly touches on how adoption impacts a family. It was written by an adoptive Dad and gives a child’s perspective of adoption to help young children to understand the concept of adoption.
What's your outlook on how books can be useful for children when approaching big life changes?
Books can introduce life’s big changes and steps in away that helps them see those changes and their respective outcomes and consequence in way that models behavior.
It also allows us to talk to them about these big changes a way that makes it more accessible. If you have older kids, you know when you ask “How was school?’ You typically get the “fine” response. But if you about what "game did you play in gym class", or "who did you sit with at lunch” that starts the process of talking.
Books do this, you can talk about the book, but actually be talking about their feelings, needs, desires!
Can you tell us a bit about your book box service that you run here in Spain?
Little Readers is a monthly book club for kids. We create a fun box that combines unique books and activities that gets kids excited about reading. Each month we read over 100 children books to select 1 to put in the box! We look for books that are inclusive and inspiring. Our books stimulate global learning an increase our littles cultural inquisitiveness!
What led you to launch this and what makes Little Readers Book Boxes so amazing and unique? I wanted to find monthly subscription, something that my mom who lives in the US, could send my kids here in Spain. I couldn’t find one that was user-friendly for me as a mom; meaning i didn’t want to have to deal with international shipping fees, customs, etc. I couldn’t find it, so I created it. My mom was my first subscriber.
Once I decided that I was going to curate a subscription box, I knew it would be book box. I didn’t more plastic and I wanted something to hold onto. Not a project we do and then sits around the house. You can always go back to a book. I have some of my childhood books; ones with my name written in my mom’s handwriting. For me a book is forever. We add the activities, the podcasts, and the little surprises…and kids love it. Parents love that their are so excited about books!
I created this book box out of love in the midst of a pandemic. Since the beginning I have had three guiding principles:
Being inclusive, being environmentally- friendly, and real.
We select books from diverse authors and viewpoints. We feature unique characters- all skin tones, and family -types! We love books with maps and books that make kids think about the world around them! We feature books about taking care of the earth. We wrap each and every box with a string bow that can be reused, instead of plastic tape. We get box locally even though costs a bit more. We love what we do, and think our little readers (and big ones) can feel that! I think that due to technology we are all constantly being shown ‘perfect life’. And I wanted to create a company where we are aren’t perfect, but we strive to be real. Real life, real stories, real people, tat what inspires us.
Do you mind sharing a little about yourself and how you came to be so fascinated by books for kids?
I am an American mom living in Barcelona. A few years ago I decided to write children book about Barcelona, because again, I couldn’t find so I made it. This got me hooked on the world of books, illustrators, etc. Books have always been a big part of my parenting routine, so starting business based books was something that really motivated me.
Do you yourself love to read now as an adult?
Yes, funny. I read in spurts and my reading is directly linked to what’s going on in my life. When I am stressed or have a bad day, i don’t even think of picking up a book. I watch mindless tv. But then when things settle down I will read 2 books in a week!
What’s your favorite genre?
Historical fiction written from a woman’s perspective. I love a book with an amazing story that makes me google stuff! If I have to google a map even better. I love love love Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Jhumpa Lahir. Books about women, history, immigrants, love, motherhood. Basically all the stuff that makes life, well life.
Thanks so much for sharing, Abbie!
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