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Four Children’s Books That Have Made Me a Better Mom

I am crazy about books. Any sort of book. And the library…feels a bit like a second home to me. Even as a kid, I'd ride my bike to the local library, assemble a massive stack of short chapter books and read, read, read.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I prayed all the time that she would love to read. I'm so happy to say that she does and I really savor that time that we spend together. I'll admit. Some kids books are weird. Or annoying. Or boring. Or even kind of dark and creepy. But there are so many good ones, too. That didn't surprise me. What did surprise me was the fact that lots of these books have really made my adult brain think…sometimes about tough stuff…and they've even made me a better mom. Here are a few of my favorites.

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"Harriet Harris, You'll Drive Me Wild" by Mem Fox

The mother in this book – I get her. In fact, I am her. And not just in the sense that we both named our daughters Harriet. This frazzled, sloppily-dressed, hard-working mama is doing her darndest to be patient with her mess-making daughter. But towards the end, she yells. Like… she freaks out. And what results is a beautiful, real-life mother-daughter moment where the mom models a genuine apology and they seal the deal with lots of laughter. Every time my Harriet and I read this book, it gives us an opportunity to talk about frustration and it reminds me how important it is for me to apologize to my kids (with no "buts") when I lose my cool.

"Mole and Baby Bird" by Marjorie Newman

This is the beautifully simple story of a young mole who longs to keep a bird as a pet in his underground home. His wise and gentle parents, and his even wiser and gentler grandfather, teach him that if he truly loves the bird, he must let it go. It's one of those priceless and painful lessons that all parents need to learn and put into practice over and over again.

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"A Teeny, Tiny Baby" by Amy Schwartz

Okay, so maybe this one hasn't necessarily made me a better mother. But it's still so, so good for parents… especially new parents. I give it to a lot of new moms because it's one of the few books I've found that realistically (and even humorously) describes the first few months with a newborn. The illustrations are wonderful, and I think it's a great gift for a big sibling-to-be, too.

"Mr. Gumpy's Outing" by John Burningham

Two words. Patience and grace. Mr. Gumpy personifies both in this sweet tale and every time we read it, I'm challenged to take things in stride and be a bit more patient and gracious myself.

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