Reality-Discovering for Toddlers: Why Good Tales Are Necessary
During the lockdown months, I babysit for a toddler with a growing vocabulary and a love for books.
Monday through Friday I arrived at her house with a bag of books and soon she was saying a new word: "Alfie!"
I had many books, including several children's Bibles. But what word did she say and what author did she keep returning to? Alfie.
So I read Alfie every day. (Though not all Alfie … Shirley Hughes & # 39; simpler books and poetry collections were included in the word.) And when I did, I was amazed at Shirley Hughes' ability to write stories.
An author who understands
Instead of simple prose, here was an author who cheerfully invited us into her story.
Instead of abstract concepts about love and being, there was a normal life in a book.
Toddlers are aware of the world around them – a smart toddler doesn't miss much. You know mom and dad can understand this – and some friends may know that.
But a good book with an author who also understands their intelligence – that's why my toddler returned to Alfie.
Here was a story that didn't pander or sentimentalize. It wasn't boring. It wasn't unusual or dreamy.
Here was a little boy like her and a narrator who understood life through the eyes of a child.
Toddlers need books like that.
Alfie gets in first
Toddlers understand the natural impulse to run in front of mom on the way home. (And no, it doesn't count unless you're the first in the house too.) So you understand why Alfie gallops into the house. And while mom does what mothers do – she goes back outside to fetch the stroller and little sister Annie Rose – Alfie does something else they understand. He slams the door impulsively.
And just as the SLAM vibrates over the side, it sinks in.
He is separated from mom now. He is alone. He can't reach the door and the keys are inside.
Shirley Hughes doesn't pause to explain that doors can only be opened with keys.
Every toddler who is worth their salt understands doors in their various forms.
She just keeps telling the story – Alfie's hardship, gathering friends and neighbors, the happy solution.
A greater truth
A children's book is the first time you can introduce your toddler to someone who goes beyond you – beyond someone they know – and who understands. Who is ready to tell them a story and explain life in a slightly different way than mom, dad or grandmother? . . .
By reading your toddler books by authors who understand them – the more voices, styles, and illustrations, the better – you are preparing them for a day of reading a better book. A true story. Told by many authors, narrators and styles – but by God's Spirit, written by people who understand them.
We long to be known. We long to be understood as toddlers too. Reading books that recognize and achieve this longing – that means: “I see you and I know you and let me tell you a story. . . "Are some of the best preparations for the ultimate story, written by a sovereign God who sees and loves and understands and who has given us a book to get to know better.
Recommended reading by the redeemed reader
We participate in the Amazon LLC affiliate program. Purchases you make through affiliate links like the following can earn us a commission. Read more here.