A Grandmother’s Guide To Toddler Books – Part One

If you have been to a baby shower recently, you may have been asked to bring a book instead of a card with your gift. Hallmark may not be happy but new parents love this idea as a way to build their family library.

But shopping for children’s books can be overwhelming. There are so many great options – and some stinkers, too.

I thought I’d share with you some of the toddler books that have become my favorites after hours of reading to my little grandchildren, ages 2 months – 4 1/2 years old.

Sure, you can’t go wrong with the classics like “Goodnight Moon” or anything by Dr. Seuss but thinking outside that box, you might consider these gems.

(By the way, this post contains some affiliate links which means that if you buy something after clicking on the link, Amazon will send a few pennies my way. Then I will promptly send these pennies back to Amazon as I buy new books for the little ones.)

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Little Blue Truck and Little Blue Truck Leads the Way by Alice Schertle, illustrated by Jill McElmurry

Little Blue Truck

Little Blue Truck Leads the Way

These sweet books tell the tale of the Little Blue Truck who shows by example that kindness is best.

 

Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney

Llama Llama Red Pajama

The headliner in the Llama Llama series, this book is written in a melodic tempo which makes it a delight to read.

Caution, however, if you are reading this to a young one who is suffering from separation anxiety you might want to skip the page that says,

“Llama llama red pajama feels alone without his mama.”

Just a little word of advice. From experience.

 

The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen, illustrated by Dan Hanna

The Pout-Pout Fish

Featuring whimsical illustrations, The Pout-Pout Fish tells of a gloomy Gus who learns to turn his frown upside-down. The story is particularly riveting when the reader uses a different voice for each of the friends as my son does when reading to his twins.

Again, there are a number of “sequels” in the Pout-Pout series but you will want to read this one first.

 
Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin

Click, Clack Moo: Cows That Type

Farmer Brown’s cows have some demands which they present to the farmer in the form of a typed letter. Negotiations go back and forth until – spoiler alert – the animals win.

 
The Gruffalo by Julie Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler

The Gruffalo

A tiny mouse uses bravery and quick thinking to outwit those who would like to have him (as in EAT him) for lunch.

 
Digger, Dozer, Dumper by Hope Vestergaard, illustrated by David Slonim

Digger Dozer Dumper

The important jobs of each digger, dozer, and dumper are described in a rhyme. Truck-obsessed children like the ones in our family will love this.

 

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson

Last Stop on Market Street

This award-winning book first came to my attention when I saw it on a list of children’s books that encourage kindness to others.

CJ and his grandmother ride the bus across town together as they do every Sunday. Through their conversation along the way, Nana open’s CJ’s eyes to the goodness all around him.

The beautiful message and captivating illustrations won my heart immediately. And might have even brought a tear to my eye.

 

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Stay tuned for Part Two of my toddler book recommendations – more great stories that have earned the Momo seal of approval.

In the meantime, what are your favorite books for young children? I’m always looking for suggestions!

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Parenting: That Was Then, This Is Now

We all know that babies don’t come with an instruction manual. Parenting is an inexact science figured out on the fly. Learning while doing. All rooted in love.

But ideas about the “right thing to do” have evolved over the years.

This got me to thinking about how different parenting was in the ’80s and ’90s when we were raising our kids versus now when they are raising kids of their own. And, how different I am as a grandparent than I was as a parent way back when.

Times have changed bringing new, often better, definitely safer ideas to the world of parenting.

For example, my friends and I have all experienced this one.

Mocadeaux - unsafe crib

Unsafe crib filled with taboo extras.

The crib, in which our little babies slept, was carefully wrapped up and stored with the hope and expectation that we would someday have grandchildren who would, themselves, slumber peacefully in the “heirloom crib”.

Except that the design of these cribs, with their too wide apart slats, has been determined to be a deathtrap and all the cribs had to go to the garbage dump.

Not to Goodwill, not to a garage sale. In the trash.

These lethal weapons had to be tossed out along with the now deemed dangerous playpens, jumparoos and other pieces of equipment to which we had unwittingly trusted our precious babies.

If only Pinterest had been around in those days. There would have been boards upon boards of DIY projects to turn these hazardous items into gorgeous garden ornaments or something.

And car seats?

These life-saving devices were just coming on to the scene as “must-haves” when my babies were born.

It wasn’t until 1985 that all 50 states had mandatory car seat laws. Can you believe that???

Mocadeaux - car seat

Does this look safe to you?

When our first child was born, Peter had a bit of a heated discussion with my grandmother who insisted she was going to carry her first great-grandchild home from the hospital on her lap in the car just as she had done with her grandchildren (including me).

Needless to say, that didn’t happen. But it wasn’t such a far-fetched idea based upon the times. Today a suggestion like that would cause an international incident.

Heck, when I was a kid, we used to ride in the way back, rear-facing seat of the station wagon. I’m not even sure it had seat belts. Or, we would stow the seats and sit cross-legged amongst the bags of groceries. It’s what you did.

That was then, this is now.

Nowadays, car seats are engineering marvels designed with every single known safety feature and painstakingly installed, often by a local police officer or fireman.

For the protection of our little nuggets, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

As a parent, I relied heavily on the moms in my playgroup for advice.

Come to think of it, that hasn’t changed over the years.

Our moms and tots group continues to meet (sans tots but sometimes avec grandchildren) at least once a month as we have for the past 30+ years. Now we share stories and support with a few grandparenting tips thrown in for good measure.

My kids confer with their friends who have children but they also have access to an almost infinite source of advice in the form of the internet.

Parent forums, Facebook groups and Professor Google supply a dizzying array of suggestions to solve virtually every challenge of parenting.

In my parenting days, I would have been completely overwhelmed by this volume of information.

My kids take it in stride – vetting the sources, analyzing, deciding on a course of action and, ultimately, relying on their gut to guide them.

Even with all the information in the world, parenting still comes down to trial and error and following your gut. That’s something that hasn’t changed over time.

Back in the day, we had only the PBS classics like Sesame Street and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood to entertain and educate.

Occasionally, we would pop in a Disney movie for fun but only after spending 5 minutes rewinding the VHS tape after the last viewing.

On road trips, we would play the alphabet game or highway bingo.

Mocadeaux - highway bingo

Now there are zillions of channels on the tv, access to on-demand shows, Netflix and downloads.

These shows can be watched on phones, tablets, computers and even the old-fashioned way, on the TV.

Screens, screens! Everywhere! Anytime!

But now experts recommend limiting screen time for young kids. Well, that’s confusing.

This parenting thing has gotten a lot harder than it was when I did it…

Grandparenting, on the other hand, is one of the sweetest gigs EVER.

As a parent, I worried about every decision.

How much should they eat? How much should they sleep? Jacket or no jacket? What school is best for them? Sleepovers? Dance class? Piano lessons? How much is too much and how much is not enough?

As a grandparent, I have none of that decision-making responsibility and all of the fun. Sure, I will offer if advice but I try really, really hard to do so only if asked.

I try to stick to my Grandparent Manifesto, focusing on my duty to provide endless love and support. The little guys make my job easy.

being a grandparent

Parenting has changed over the years. My role has changed. And I’ve changed.

But the one thing that remains constant through it all is the importance of love in everything we do.


Parenting: That Was Then, This Is Now is Chapter 4 in the Who I Am Project hosted by Bev at Linkouture and Dana at Kiss My List.

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A Letter To My Grandsons

A letter to my grandsonsTo my dear grandsons,

They say that becoming a grandparent is one of the greatest gifts in the world. I did not have a full appreciation of that until you guys came into my life.

I loved you even before I met you in person. Once I laid eyes on you, that love grew by infinite measure.

It was an honor and a privilege to help your parents care for you after you were born, to watch you for endless hours as you made your adorable squinchy baby face expressions, yawns, coos and smiles.

To experience the bliss of having you sleep in my arms.

And now, I am having the joy of watching you grow and the delight of watching your parents guide you with love and devotion.

Your parents are pretty amazing people. Do you know how lucky you are?

Of course they will love and protect you forever but they are also showing you what you need to know to be a good citizen of the world.

I love the way that you cooperate and share with others. Your parents taught you that. May this kindness always be the cornerstone of your soul.

I love that you protect each other. Throughout your life, may you speak up whenever you see injustice and always defend those who are being picked on or bullied.

Your parents are showing by example what it means to be a true and loyal friend to others. Along with the close-knit family you are blessed to be a part of, friends should be an important part of your life.

May you have family who are your friends and friends who are your family.

Friends and Family - Mocadeaux

I love that you are so curious about the world around you. May you always have a keen interest in learning about people, places and things.

I love that you love books. May you always have a passion for reading and a thirst for knowledge.

Your parents will take your education very seriously and make sure that you are exposed to a wide range of cultures and ideas so that you can learn the importance of diversity and acceptance.

They will encourage you to always be true to your selves, to be an individual, to be the best “YOU” you can be. You are quite fabulous, you know.

Your parents will travel with you. You will have the opportunity to experience the beauty and wonder of places around the world. May you take advantage of every opportunity and may each experience make you yearn for the next one.

May you find things in your life to be passionate about. And may you be lucky enough to incorporate your passions into every aspect of your life.

May you someday be lucky enough to meet the person you are meant to be with. Your partner. The love of your life. Remember to always be kind, supportive and respectful of that person and always expect the same in return. You deserve nothing less.

Thank you for the joy you bring to our family. Please know that you are surrounded by people who love you fiercely and will support and protect you forever.

With all my love,

your Momo

 

mocadeaux

This post was written as part of the “Who I Am” series hosted by Dana of Kiss My List and Bev of Linkouture. This month, participants were to answer the questions: Who are the people you love, and who love you? How are they are part of your story? Please visit here to read more “Who I Am” stories. And, visit here to read more about the “Who I Am” series. 

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Grandchildren Bring Extra Joy to The Holidays

Welcome to Day 20 of

Partners In A Pair Tree – Kelly And Mo Celebrate December

Today’s theme: the best gift ever.

Last fall Peter and I were blessed with our first grandchildren – identical twin boys.

grand children

Immediately after the boys were born, my daughter-in-law’s mom went to help out for a few weeks, then it was my turn.

None of us had any idea just how busy life with infant twins would be. Fortunately my son’s company provides for a very generous paternity leave and my daughter-in-law had always planned on being a stay-at-home mom. But we figured out pretty quickly the benefit of a ratio of at least three adults to the two babies.

Shortly after I arrived, it became very clear that help was going to be needed longer than the few weeks I had originally planned to stay.

In what Peter calls “the least surprising email he has ever received”, I laid out a plan that involved me staying in Boston to help with the babies for some extra time…like two months.

I am insanely lucky that I was able to stay for so long to help and insanely lucky that I was asked to do so.

Peter and I had planned to spend Christmas in Boston with the family, especially the babies. What I hadn’t planned was doing all my holiday preparations in the middle of baby central.

My daughter-in-law and I fondly remember the weeks spent together, each with a sleeping baby in one arm and a laptop in the other.  As all members of households with new babies, we became experts in multi-tasking, managing to put up their Christmas tree and decorations, bake cookies, order, address and send Christmas cards, open boxes delivered by UPS and wrap gifts all while snuggling with the precious little boys.

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree In A Cage

During the Christmas Crunch Time of 2012, there was one day in particular on which my fabulous and intrepid daughter-in-law took the boys to a “Mommy and Me” or in this case “Mommy and Us” class and I, armed with our very final to-do list, hit the local mall.

I was a machine – had never before been so efficient and probably never will be again. I managed to check everything off our list then screech back in time to help Lily carry the buckets of boys in from the car.

While one of the busiest holiday seasons I’ve ever had, for quite obvious reasons it was also one of the best.

When Christmas morning arrived, it was simply magical to wake to celebrate the boys’ first Christmas. They were, of course, too little to know what was going on but it is a Christmas memory that Peter and I will never forget.

This year we will not be with the little nuggets on Christmas Day so we have come a week early to celebrate.

This year they are old enough to be quite interested in unwrapping presents. Their absolute favorite: books. Peter and I got a copy of “Twas The Night Before Christmas” that allows you to record the story in your own voice. What a perfect present for grandparents, especially those like us who live far away.

It is true that grandchildren bring a new dimension to every aspect of our lives and that is never more evident than during the holidays. These boys are a gift in our lives that we cherish every day.

So as I pack my suitcase to leave Boston, I add another ornament on our Partners in a Pair Tree celebrating our beautiful grandsons.

Partners In A Pair Tree Day 20

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