Books for Children in Quarantine
I wish I could say that I read some incredible books in March but unfortunately, I didn’t get through one adult book. Truthfully, I wasn’t really excited about any particular books, at least enough to stay up until 3am to get lost in one. I’ve also been glued to my phone for news (and let’s be honest, Instagram) updates. I tell myself to ditch the phone and pick up my Kindle instead and then fall asleep before I can take any action.
I have a few books on my nightstand that are in various stages of completion but my reading rate has drastically decreased since giving birth. At one point, I thought I would be able to read while nursing Brody in the middle of the night, however my catatonic state begs to differ. As I was commiserating with my sister-in-law, she had a great idea to make this month’s reading list child-focused. Since many of us are at home trying to be caregivers, employees, teachers and all the things, I think we can all appreciate a few new books (or some really great old ones) to introduce to our kids. Below is the children in quarantine edition of the March reading list you never thought you needed.
Here is a link to my Amazon shop where all the books are listed under “children’s books.”
Children in Quarantine Edition of the March Reading List
Interstellar Cinderella, by Deborah Underwood
Where do you start when you need to entertain your child at home all day everyday? I personally turned to books and arts and craft activities. Specifically, books for children in quarantine that won’t get old. This particular book is not your typical Cinderella story. In this narrative, Cinderella loves repairing spaceships. When the prince’s ship has mechanical trouble, she rushes to help him. In the process, she leaves her wrench, which he uses to find her. When they reunite, he’s so happy that he asks her to marry him and she says something along the lines of, “thanks but no thanks. I’d rather be your mechanic.” I really enjoyed reading this book and I love that this is Perry and Dylan’s first introduction to Cinderella.
Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, by Mo Willems
Trixie, her Knuffle Bunny, and her dad go to the laundromat to do their laundry. Unfortunately, Trixie quickly realizes that her bunny is lost. She throws a tantrum as her dad desperately tries to find it. The way the author describes Trixie’s tantrum is frighteningly accurate. Every time I look at my kids while reading this book, I know they feel validated on some level. I also love the way this book is illustrated with a combination of black and white photographs and drawn characters. This is a lovely story emphasizing the relationship between a girl and her dad. It’s also fun to narrate because you can make the experience suspenseful and exciting depending on your tone of voice.
Be Kind, by Pat Zietlow Miller
What does it mean to be kind? This is one of my favorite books that discusses the importance of being kind without a sanctimonious tone. When Tanisha spills grape juice on her new dress, she is embarrassed and upset. Her new classmate wants to help her feel better but she is not sure how. Should she spill grape juice on herself too? Should she talk to Tanisha? The book has sparked some great discussions with my kids, each time a little different.
When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree, by Jamie L.B. Deenihan
There are some great lessons here that go beyond the standard “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” For her birthday, a little girl receives a lemon tree from her Grandma and is disappointed. She had a long list of electronics she was hoping to receive. The lemon tree, however, brings her more gifts than she had originally anticipated. This is a heart-warming story on working hard, being creative and earning your way to getting the things you want or need. It also emphasizes the importance of nature and gaining value from gifts other than electronics.
Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein
“But all the magic I have known, I’ve had to make myself.” -Shel Silverstein
Who remembers Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout who would not take the garbage out? Or the mustn’ts and don’ts? I first read Where the Sidewalk Ends in the fourth grade and still remember memorizing poems and presenting them to my fourth grade class. Every time I sit and read it with the kids, I start thinking of myself as the new kid at school, gathering the nerve to recite a poem in front of a room full of strangers. I’ve been reading these poems to my kids since they were born and they still love them. It’s a great way to introduce poetry to small children in a funny and imaginative way. This book is also one of our favorite gifts to give to friends and family.
I Am a Big Brother/ I Am a Big Sister, by Caroline Jayne Church
We read I am a Big Sister often when I was pregnant with Dylan and we wanted Perry to understand the concept of having a sibling. When I was pregnant with Brody, we started reading I am a Big Brother to Dylan. Obviously a new baby is always a major change and whether children outwardly express how they’re feeling or internalize their emotions, I personally feel it’s important to talk about changes before they happen, if possible. Reading these books helped my kids visualize what life would be like with a newborn and what that really means.For example, a baby crying often or getting a bottle.
My favorite part is at the end when the author discusses things that only bigger kids can do and how special they are. We often emphasized the idea of our family growing and what a wonderful and positive thing that was. We also talked about what that would mean for the older siblings and the book helped illustrate those concepts. Now we just need a book on why babies “bite mommy’s boobs.” 🙂
Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
This is another blast from the past. There’s just something about reading your childhood favorites to your kids that makes everything feel safe and okay. It also makes everything better when you’re an hour past bedtime and your kids suddenly have this newfound energy. Also, your newborn is screaming at the top of his lungs because it’s time to nurse. You thought you had the timing down but you didn’t.
What I love most about this book is how it emphasizes the power of imagination and of course, a mother’s love (I’m partial to that one). There aren’t many characters, the writing is simple and concise, and the message is profound. This is a must for any children’s library.
Rosie Revere, Engineer, by Andrea Beaty
The next few books are part of the same series by Andrea Beaty and we love each and every one of them. We started with Rosie Revere and slowly accumulated the others. Rosie Revere dreamed of becoming an engineer. Since she was little, she used various scraps around the house to construct creative inventions, like helium pants and python-repelling cheese hats. Many of the experiments are failures, which Rosie learns is part of the process of getting to where you want to be.
Ada Twist, Scientist, by Andrea Beaty
Another STEM-focused book, Ada Twist was inspired by Marie Curie and Ada Lovelace. Ada is a born scientist and has an innate sense of curiosity. She uses extensive scientific experiments to answer them and learns how to reason her way through the questions. As she learns how to answer scientific questions, she demonstrates the scientific method and creates a hypothesis. She then uses trial and error to draw her own conclusions. Although my kids aren’t thinking about the scientific method when reading this story, they’re learning how to question the world around them and how to get the answers they need.
Iggy Peck, Architect, by Andrea Beaty
Each of Andrea Beaty’s books emphasizes a different theme. In this case, what stood out to me was the emphasize on teamwork and pursuing one’s passion despite less than enthusiastic reactions from people you care about. The illustrations are beautiful and truly bring home the story. The only downside? Your child will request that you read this book again, and again, and again.
Sofia Valdez, Future Prez, by Andrea Beaty
Sofia Valdez is a memorable story on so many levels. In addition to the beautiful illustrations, the writing and narrative is truly unique. The author emphasized the importance of family and going after what you want despite not knowing where to start. She demonstrates the power of children’s voices and the change brought about by public service. Sofia Valdez has a special relationship with her Abuelo (grandfather), that reminds me of my own relationship with my grandfather when I was a little girl. We also often went on walks together around the neighborhood, catching up on life. This is one book I don’t mind reading repeatedly.
She’s Got This, by Laurie Hernandez
Zoe is a little girl who wants to fly. When she sees a gymnast performing her routine on TV, she realizes that gymnastics is similar to flying. Unfortunately, when she goes to class, she falls off the balance beam. She realizes that becoming a gymnast will take work and long hours of practice. The story is a classic iteration of believing in yourself and persisting despite setbacks, lessons that we can all learn. I may be overthinking this but it’s also a nice reminder of everything we can achieve after the coronavirus pandemic is over and we’re all out of quarantine.
Dear Girl, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Paris Rosenthal
Amy Krouse Rosenthal is a New York Times bestselling author who collaborating with her daughter, Paris Rosenthal, to write Dear Girl. You may know Amy from her poignant essay in the essay collection, Modern Love. Whenever a friend asks me for book recommendations that have anything to do with empowering young girls, I always think of Dear Girl. It’s a beautiful letter full of valuable lessons to little girls, such as that they are strong, worthy, they’re allowed to get emotional, they can run around in the mud and wear a fancy tutu skirt. Girls have a voice and they should use it from a young age, despite subtle messages they receive to the contrary. Every girl is unique and lovely just the way she is.
Dear Boy, by Paris Rosenthal and Jason B. Rosenthal
Dear Boy is a follow-up to Dear Girl and it does not disappoint. What kind of message do we want to send to our little boys, who will one day grow up to be men? I don’t think there are many books that tells boys that they are kind, compassionate, helpful, clever, and sweet. What I loved most about it is that it wasn’t the typical “boys don’t cry, be a man” type of cliches that are fed to boys from a young age.
The Wonderful Things You Will Be, by Emily Winfield Martin
I’ve been reading this book to my kids since they were born and they still love it. They love the artwork and in particular, a section of the book that folds out to reveal one giant landscape. One of my favorite parts of the day is when the kids get in their pajamas and we all squeeze into the chair in their room to read books together. This is one of our favorite books. Many of the “grown up careers” are less about work and more about character traits. For example, being bold, brave, or clever. Perry and I like to look at the characters and talk about who we’ll be when we grow up. We both picked the ballerina. Maybe I’ll take a ballet class when we’re all out of quarantine. 🙂
Photo: Joe Mac