When studying to become a teacher I learned two qualities of strong children’s literature:
1. Children should solve their own problems.
2. Lessons should not be too didactic or preachy.
These two features are interesting if we apply them to parenting. Perhaps by default, good writing that is based on universal themes, becomes a lesson in parenting for those tall people who buy the books.
Weird Parents is a favorite book for me. Author Audrey Wood made sure that the child solves the embarrassment of having weird parents. The universal theme from childhood is the feeling of being different. At some point our parents probably made us feel embarrassed.
I love to read it and really ham it up. The part where the mom stands at the bus stop and yells, “Bye-bye, honeycakes!” is a fun read-aloud moment.
First the child tries to tell the parents not to be weird. When that does not work the child imagines that the parents are not weird anymore. Next the main character imagines that everyone else has weird parents. The end is terrific. Instead of giving away the ending, I invite you to buy the book at an independent book store.
Rather than being didactic or preachy, the book sends a reminder to parents. Kids do sometimes feel embarrassed by us. That is OK. We do not have to stop being joyful because they might be embarrassed. Instead we want them to see our joy so they can find their own joy from a place within their own heart.
Have you ever noticed how parents in picture books let kids solve their own problems?
Children learn to smile from their parents. -Shinichi Suzuki