Category Archives: reading

Books that Teach: Daniel Goes to the Potty

It has happened again in my house, a child is ready to potty train. It doesn’t matter how many times you go through this stage — it is ALWAYS different. The last child I trained was a girl, but I have trained two boys, and I am back to training a boy now. In my experience, girls are easier. but this time around my son seems very interested in training so we shall see how it goes. In my experience having something that helps to show that the potty is not scary is a huge help. I usually give my child a doll or toy that will use the potty just like they will, and a book that makes the whole experience understandable.

Each of my children loves a different cartoon character. My youngest is in love with Daniel Tiger from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. So for his book I chose to pick up Daniel Goes to the Potty. My son loves the episode when Daniel learns to go potty, and we already sing the song, so the book was an excellent addition to our new potty training routine. It follows Daniel as he learns the routine of the bathroom: “when you have to go potty stop, and go right away.” He learns the process of going potty, washing his hands, and going back to play. We love that it explains what to do when he feels the urge, since like most children, my son does not want to stop playing when he feels the need to go. It even shows what happens when he doesn’t stop to go.

As we embark on this last round of potty training Daniel is along for the ride with us and we are ready to be potty trained and off to play.

Best Books: Oh The Places You’ll Go

When I was a teenager my cousin’s best-friend’s Mom was dying of cancer. She had a long horrible illness. But during that time she prepared items for her daughter to have and read when she was gone. One of those things was a copy of Dr. Seuss’ Oh The Places You’ll Go. She bought her daughter a copy and took it to all of her teachers that year in school (her senior year) and had them all sign a little message to her. The mother left three pages at the back for herself, and wrote a very long heartfelt message for her daughter to read on graduation day. The mom passed away before graduation. But her husband gave it to their daughter the night of graduation. To this day she counts it as the single greatest gift she was ever given. It was filled with motivational letters from her teachers, and a letter that told her everything her mother ever thought of her, and how proud she was of her.

When I started having kids I knew I wanted to borrow this idea. So I bought a copy for each of my kids. Instead of just doing it senior year I have taken it to every teacher for every grade and let them write a note to my kid. I will continue to do so every year, and save a spot for me at the end. I hope that one day it will show my children how special they are, and how many people worked hard to help them become the bets person they could.

Best Books: The One and Only Ivan

In a world where we are being faced with bullying, loneliness, and school shootings it is hard to completely understand the fears, isolation, and loneliness that children and teens are dealing with. As adults, we see the world as it is, but children are still learning how the world functions, and how to deal with the emotions that result from living in that world. Sometimes children need help to understand those emotions.

Katherine Applegate’s book, The one and Only Ivan introduces a lonely and isolated Gorilla that has lived in captivity for 27 years. Ivan meets a baby elephant named Ruby that has been taken from the wild. Throughout the novel the two interact on a human level, they share their fears, their hopes, their dreams. As readers, we get to see the world from Ivan’s perspective. It details the essence of childhood. The limits of understanding, the boxed in protection that becomes a cage, the loss of innocence as the real world takes shape around them, but through it, all is a friendship and humor that helps them to navigate this strange world. The world that Applegate has created allows children to place themselves in Ivan’s place and follow him on his journey of self-actualization and his quest into the real world of adulthood. Throughout this journey, the readers are able to confront their own emotions and reconcile their own experiences with loneliness and isolation.

The one and only Ivan

The book brings humor, joy, and sadness as it tells the story of Ivan and Ruby. Readers will enjoy the friendship and humor as they learn some deeper lessons. It makes for an excellent read, and if parents read it as well it can open up doors and opportunities for discussion about what kids are really going through today.