It’s the common belief that children’s books are meant for…well…children. And while they often are filled with valuable lessons for children to learn, such as accepting one another’s differences and using your manners, there are some books filled with lessons for parents as well.
One most recent example is the children’s book, The Boy Who Opened My Eyes, written as a kind of memoir by Elaine Sussman about her blind younger brother, Mark. In an article from the Sun Sentinel, writer Michael Braga writes about how the book showcases parents willing to help their child through any difficult—including something as difficult as growing up without sight.
“Mark’s parents made his life interesting, always designing ways to allow their son to experience the world of sight,” Braga writes. The book showcases the ways his parents taught him to embrace his life without sight, not feel sorry for himself despite his handicap, and the lessons they taught him about being brave and positive.
While the book can and should resonate with children about the ways they can learn and become better people from the difficulties they face, the book is also an excellent reminder to parents that their actions and the way the face challenges has a direct reflection on their children, and the adults they will grow up to be.
You can also think about a book like Night Buddies, where the parents may not be main characters, but have a big impact on the storyline. My protagonist John’s mother is a skeptic, cynical about her son’s imagination and quick to scold him for the adventures he wants to share with her. In the end, it makes him feel the need to hide a big part of his life from her.
While this can be seen as a minor storyline, it can also be a reminder to parents to listen to their children, and be kind when they open up to you. Encouraging their imagination can bring the two of you closer than ever—I have firsthand experience with that, creating these stories years before they were written with my own son.
Just remember, every book has a lesson, and every book can have value to its reader. Even if you’re an adult reading a picture book to your kids at night, take a minute to think about how the story can apply to you. You might learn more than you ever expected!