Little Books, Big Ideas

Have you ever been tempted to buy one of those little books by the cash register at line at a bookstore? You know the ones: “Mother & Daughter,” “Father & Son,” “Friends Forever,” “I Love My Cat.” They’re those tiny pocket-sized books that you can throw into a gift bag for a little extra touch.

On one hand, they seem like a waste of money…like a $5 gift that the person will open, tell you how sweet it is, place it in a desk drawer, and never look at it again. But on the other hand, it might be something that can cheer people up when they’re having a rough day or they need to be reminded of how much they’re loved.

Well, I had an idea that I wanted to share with you; an idea that will instill the values I had in mind when writing Reading Is Fun! Imagine That! – to always be on the lookout for ways to create, write, draw, imagine, and share your love of all these things with others. Reading Is Fun! Imagine That! is jam-packed with ideas to hone your little one’s creative spirit. Whether it’s writing or drawing or reading or all of the above, the idea is to nurture a love for learning.

So what does this have to do with those little books I mentioned? I came up with two ways to utilize these tiny books with your young children (preferably when they’re at an age where they’re haven’t learned to read).

First, let’s remember that kids like small things. Small things fit in their small hands. Small things make them feel like that thing belongs just to them. Small things can be tucked away where nobody can find them. Small things are treasures. Hand a 3-year old boy a Hot Wheels car and see how long it can entertain him. Hand a little girl a Shopkin and watch her imagination soar!

So, my advice with the small books at the register? Buy one. Bring one home and use it as a bedtime book. The best thing about a book that a child doesn’t yet have the ability to read is that they will get lost in the pictures. Open those tiny pages, point at those colorful pictures, and let your toddler tell you a story – and tell him/her one in return.

Before I share my second idea, I want to share this story: I had a friend who had, what I thought, the best approach to Christmas gifts with her grandchildren. When her grandchildren would look at their pile of gifts on Christmas Eve, they would immediately grab the biggest present and tear it open.

My friend told them that the best gifts were sometimes in the smallest packages. She would do something every year to prove her point – like wrap a Tonka truck in a big box and then place a $100 bill into a small box. When her 10-year old grandson opened the $100, he danced around the room and from that point on, opened the smallest box first. What a beautiful life lesson, right?

In addition to showing you the importance of teaching children about small packages, I thought I’d give you the tiny-book-idea to get this idea going. Not only will they love holding a small book, they’ll love the bond it helps deepen between them and you. So my second idea is this: create a small book with your child, even something as simple as lined paper cut into equal-sized pages and stapled together. Make it small, draw tiny pictures inside, and watch what big wonders can come from those pages when you read it together at bedtime.

The tiny books in stores I’m talking about have every kind of theme you could think of. Inspiration. Jokes. Animals. Relationships. And they all have pictures. As I’ve written about before, books aren’t always about the words. They’re about opening up the mind, stirring the imagination, creating bonds between parents and children, and introducing kids to other worlds with pictures and stories.

In the spirit of Reading Is Fun! Imagine That! I hope you’ll create or pick up a little book next time you’re at Barnes & Noble, and see that something big can come out of it!

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She would like to see them in all of California’s elementary schools.

-Rosaline Turnbull Past President of the California Parent Teacher’s Association

Yours is a comforting voice during a challenging time. Your stories are charming. Each one is uniquely warm and inspiring, and the messages are uplifting for children and parents alike. The books deserve to be in homes across the country — and the world. They remind me of one of my all-time heroes:  Mr. Rogers!  They are kind, nurturing, and so encouraging.

-Tom Soma Former Executive Director of Ronald McDonald House Charities

I think these books are perfect for children. They are colorful, bright, and the illustrations are awesome. I regret there were no such books in my childhood.

-Ludmila Levine Chairman of the American English Department

They are fun to read. Both the writings and drawings are original. They are amazing.  There are so many things that could be learned. One student commented she was also learning about American culture.

-YiLing Chen Taught Women English

practical, playful, serious, affectionate, enigmatic, and varied.

-Claudine DeFaye Former Professor

These books are absolutely incredible. An excellent job of inspiring children’s creativity activities.

-Mosun Johnston Smith Former Teacher

The detail and care you’ve put in these stories is remarkable. I celebrated the wonderful wisdom those students reflected to me while reading your books.

-Andie Cunningham Instructor