I believe in the power of stories. To inspire. To challenge. To encourage. To influence. To produce change.
Their powerful means you need to help her find the best stories that teach and help her grow in the right direction. She will check out books from the school library you have never read. And read that book and learn things you wish she wouldn’t. If your girl is a tween or younger, a book mom recommends won’t lay unopened on the floor of her room. And if you need a story to get into her brain, because it speaks to her life, to her dreams, to her pain, or to her future, read it together. Take turns reading aloud or read it separately and then discuss.
Bond. Ask questions. Which character does she like best? Is the story believable? What do you like? Let the opinions be opinions not reasons for correction. Stories are fodder for safe conversation about difficult life. You can point out errors in character’s judgement, refer back it when the occasion arrives, or reinforce right and wrong behavior without taking a swipe at a your daughter’s friends. But you have to participate by reading the book!
Ready to start? I’ve got a short chapter book for you. First published in 1944, this story about girls and friendship and meanness still applies today. It won a Caldecott in 1945 and has never gone out of print. One Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes is a perfect mother/daughter book.
Wanda Petronski is a girl from the wrong side of town who wears the same dress to school every day. She claims to have 100 beautiful dresses at home. The other girls tease her endlessly for her boast and her funny Polish last name. One day, a note from Wanda’s dad arrives saying she will no longer be attending that school because of the teasing. There is no time for apologies now.
Maddie, best friend to the leader of the teasing, had watched the teasing, even felt bad about it, but said nothing. Wanda’s departure pierces Maddie’s conscience as she vows never to just stand by again. Eventually Maddie, and her best friend, seek a way to communicate with Wanda.
The book captures the moral dilemmas of being a child. And the end, while not the perfect happy ending my daughter hoped for, is powerful, realistic and satisfying.
Have fun reading together? What other books have you and your daughter enjoyed together?