This Little Miggy Stayed Home: Parenting Hack || Book Planting

Monday, October 29, 2018

Parenting Hack || Book Planting

This Little Miggy || Book Planting
This post is sponsored by Magination Press Family who is dedicated to growing healthy minds in kids and teens. As always thanks for supporting sponsors here on TLM as it allows me to keep creating content I care about. All opinions are my own.

Remember in the original finale of Gilmore Girls (spoiler alert!) where Rory is about to leave for her first real job and Lorelai is saying how she feels like she doesn't have enough time because they thought they were going to have the whole summer together and she still has all these important things to tell Rory about life and work? Lorelai's frantically running through a last minute list of do's and don'ts including keeping a stash of zip lock bags handy and offering to give her the orange sweater she knows Rory wants when Rory gently cuts in and says, "Mom, you've given me everything I need." That moment. That moment is the moment in life I can only hope to have with my girls someday. That moment when I send them out into the world knowing I have given them everything they need to conquer the world. (Hopefully they will be a little more triumphant than Rory because if they're couch surfing and hooking up with high school boyfriends in their 30's I shall question every decision I ever made.)

I find myself making frequent mental notes about important things I need to teach my children, many of these concerning some of the more "delicate" conversations of life--periods, bras, friends, kissing, consent, peer pressure, crushes, popularity and on and on. However, I spend even more time wondering how I'm going to bring up these topics in a "natural" setting where it doesn't feel like an awkward 80's tampon commercial.

Of course this extends beyond "delicate" conversations as well--disability, kindness, technology, disconnecting from said technology, health, happiness--you know, just all the things. I want to be able to talk to my kids about all the things and yet sometimes kids do not want to talk about all the things. It's like they can immediately sense any topic that might slightly overlap with the word puberty on a ven diagram and they shut down quicker than a whorehouse during the Rapture. (Sorry but I couldn't think of anything else.)

One really great solution I've found to conversations starters are books, more specifically planting books. Yes planting them like a crooked cop. Except you're not a crooked cop, you're a mom who cares about her kids health and well being. Sometimes I plant said book right in my kids hands, "Here I got this for you. Thought you might like to read it." Other times I just casually leave it by their bed and see if they've had a chance to look through it.


This Little Miggy || Book Planting
Because unlike parents, books are neutral. Books don't boss you around and tell you what time to go to bed. And books would never tell you to wear your coat because it's going to be cold today, yes even colder than yesterday and you'll want one just in case and no I don't know for sure but that's why I use the phrase just in case. And when you see your kid reading the book and you ask them about it, hey you didn't bring it up, the book brought it up!

Also, books can back you up as you've surely realized by now that your kids are starting to second guess everything you say. (Sooner or later they were bound to find out we're making this up as we go along.) And a good book can reinforce things you teach them without the slightest indication of an I-told-you-so sort of face.

Of course for effective book planting, you need effective books. Magination Press's books are fantastic book planting books. For example I set the The Tween Book: A Growing Up Guide for the Changing You by Lamp's bed the other night and she started to look through it. She immediately let out a huge "phew!" When I asked her what that was for she said she was relieved to read that it was OK for her to still like toys and dolls while also liking more big-kid stuff at the same time. She went on to share with me that she had been worried she was getting too big for some of her interests and yet here it was in black and white--a book--telling her it was OK. A small concern in the grand scheme, but something that was on her mind that I had no idea was on her mind. This particular book addresses everything from a kid's changing social dynamics to how their family changes as they start to grow out of childhood. There is not one book that will have all the answers, but it can be a great comfort to know that you're not the only person who has questions and concerns about certain things. Everyone needs to know they're not alone.

And there are so many great books for kids who might be facing things that make them feel alone--disabilitychildren in foster care, and kids with big emotions to name a few. There are plenty of books that also open children up to ideas of general health and well being--books that teach children about meditation and gratitude for example.

Even if you don't plan to use books as a means for conversation starters, you'll want books in your home that reflect your values and the kind of people you hope your kids grow up to be. Do you care about kindness? Then keep books in your house that model and teach children about kindness. Do you care about feminism? Then keep books in your house that teach about women and their contributions to society. Do you care about diversity? Then keep books in your house that show people of different races, abilities and gender roles. In fact, if you don't have the kind of diversity you'd like to see and expose your children to in real life, books are a great secondary exposure.
This Little Miggy || Book Planting
Even though Zuzu has grown up with Lamp as her big sister and therefore has a personal relationship with someone who is disabled, it wasn't until very recently that she has started to ask a few questions about Lamp and her differences. She still has a 4-year-old attention span though and the conversations are usually pretty short and sweet. I was happy to see her immediately reach for the book, Yes I can! A girl and her Wheelchair when we got our package from Magination press. She's asked me to read it several times and even for her reading about a girl in a wheelchair and how she operates in the world is interesting and informative.

Additionally, Magination Press also has a wide selection of books to support kids going through stressful situations big or small. Big Ernie's New Home is a book to help kids through the difficult transition of moving. While A Terrible Thing Happened is a book aimed to help children who have witnessed violence or trauma.

Now that I think about it Lorelai didn't teach Rory everything she needed to know. Rory's life (and room) were literally surrounded by books. As Rory said in her graduation speech from Chilton, "I live in two worlds. One is a world of books. I’ve been a resident of Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County, hunted the white whale aboard the Pequod, fought alongside Napoleon, sailed a raft with Huck and Jim, committed absurdities with Ignatius J. Reilly, rode a sad train with Anna Karenina and strolled down Swann’s Way."

And although it was never directly referenced, I bet Lorelai was one helluva book planter.

What are your thoughts about books and they helpful role they can play in your children's lives? Do you "plant" books around your children as conversation starters or so you know they have a place to turn to for answers to certain questions? What about books as they pertain to your child's emotional health? I'd love to hear your favorite books for kids that deal with tricky topics or that have helped you navigate a difficult situation for your kids. 

4 comments:

  1. My mum would plant books or pamphlets in the bathroom as a way to introduce conversations about puberty, sex, alcohol, and drug use. It worked pretty well, as thar copy of "The What's Happening To My Body Book for Girls" was dog-eared after three daughters. It was a good way to start honest conversations about our bodies snd relationships, among other things. I took a similar approach with my daughter this year with the books "It's Not the Stork" and "What Makes a Baby", as I was pregnant and my six year old daughter wanted all the info. I'm always open to talking, and believe in age appropriate information with technical terms, but it was nice for my kiddo to have her own resources.

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    1. "It was nice for my kiddo to have her own resources." YES. I too try to be an open book with my kids, but just because I keep it casual and open doesn't mean they're automatically going to be comfortable talking to me about these things. Kids come with their own comfort levels and sometimes they're not the ones we model. And, as you said, even if your kids do talk to you they'll still want resources to check out on their own time.

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  2. Renee8:01 AM

    Hi Miggy, I do so enjoy reading your blog! Thanks for all the great writing and photography you do. I learn so much in these pages. Now, as to the topic of planting, I too have done this with my daughters. On the subject of puberty, my oldest found the books interesting and read them all. I was somewhat stunned when daughter number 2 reacted completely differently at the same age: she just said "I don't want that book in my room!". I freaked out about it, until one day someone at work gave me a puberty related book for her, which I tentatively gave to her with words like "You don't have to read this. Just give it back to me if you don't like it". I never got it back, and she read it many times. Guess it was a matter of timing or of giving her the "right" book!

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    1. Good point--timing can play a big factor. Also, I think your nonchalant "read it or don't" attitude might have helped eased the tension... like you weren't EXPECTING her to read it (as sometimes kids just don't want to do anything if their parents expect them to) but it's there if she wants--either way it's no skin off your back. Well played. (insert impressive slow clap).

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