Some days I make banana bread and most I am grateful for books.
The other day I greeted my boys and their friends with fresh baked, still hot banana bread when they arrived home from school. My efforts were greeted with "My mom makes the BEST banana bread!" and I truly felt like I won the Mom gold star that day. I saved those over ripe bananas from certain doom, BAKED and what I made was approved my four different child-beings!
Most days I don't bake banana bread and feel successful just getting kids out of the house and feeding them something for dinner each night. But, every day I am grateful for books, particularly our large library of Usborne & Kane Miller books.
I joined Usborne Books & More (UBAM) when our boys were 3 & 5 and I owe a lot to the books we have been fortunate to have in our house. They have taught my boys the names of exotic animals, to wonder about science and the world and to love learning in general. The book set I was most excited about joining for, helped me teach both boys how to read. They have provided us with activities for long road trips, rainy days and birthday parties. With the books as the main feature we have connected and bonded over stories, characters and questions about hows, whys and whats.
These books have made me a better mom. Having UBAM books in the house meant it was easy to pull out a book to do science experiments or select an activity to do together like folding paper planes and seeing whose would fly the furthest. Because I was doing play date home parties and booths, I tapped into my creative side and came up with crafts that went with the books that I also shared with my kids and their friends. We did Monster Bashes and Chalk Parties. I was learning about how to read most effectively and early child hood development and my boys were the main beneficiaries of this knowledge. Early on I learned important tricks like storing books in baskets versus on shelves makes it easier for kids to find the books they want AND put them back. Recently, I lead a book club on the Impossible Quest series with 4th graders at my sons' school.
At the home party I went to that lead me to join, the consultant explained how parents often stop reading to their kids when they get old enough to read to themselves and that this can lead to kids not enjoying reading for pleasure. Although my kids were young at the time that I heard this, I vowed to not stop reading to my boys until they begged me to. At 8 and almost 10, I still read to them almost daily. We've enjoyed chapter books from my childhood, books were we can later watch the movie and of course UBAM's books.
From the time when they were little, our bedtime reading routine has always been my favorite part of the day. Many days it felt like the only slowed down, focused and engaged time we had together. On the days when I did not make banana bread or a cute craft project but merely just survived the day, reading together at the end of the day helped me feel like I was earning that I still earned a gold star as a mom.
*** My go to Banana Bread recipe is Betty Crocker but I add a bit of sour cream and usually chocolate chips instead of nuts.