4 Moms guest post by Deanna: books to read to the under-4 crowd; dinner table seating

4moms35kids 4 Moms Q&A: the laundry monster, snacks, and what to do if you cant do it all (because you cant)So…today is Friday, and I guess it’s time to publish my regularly scheduled 4 Moms post which I was supposed to publish yesterday.  This time I have something fun and special for you: these questions will be answered not from a mom’s perspective, but from that of my daughter Deanna who also blogs at Confessions of a Bibliophile.  Like me, she grew up as the oldest child in a very large family.  Like me, she thinks her extensive experience as a big sister has taught her a thing or two about mothering too.

Just in case you’re wondering, the fact that I didn’t make time to write a post of my own has absolutely nothing to do with my decision to let Deanna answer some questions here.  Well, maybe just a little.  OK, I admit it: her email to me containing her answers to the two questions below totally made the decision for me.

Good books to read to the 4 and under crowd that aren’t too annoying for mom to read?

 I sometimes have trouble deciding on a book to read to the kids because I forget one very important thing about reading to children. They don’t have to understand everything. It’s really a liberating thought once you can wrap your mind around it. Reading a classic like Peter Pan or The Chronicles of Narnia, or The Hobbit to young children who aren’t ready to read it on their own can still be a fascinating experience for all concerned. You just have to keep it in perspective. For example, Don’t get frustrated when they keep asking questions. This is a good thing because it means that they are plugged in and engaging the story. You still need to impose some discipline on them, such as telling them that they have to raise their hand, or that they need to wait until you finish the paragraph before they can talk. It’s important not to get too wrapped up in how much you  are enjoying the story especially if it’s a slightly more advanced book, and stop several times during a reading to ask questions about what’s going on in the story to help them follow along better.
 If you find yourself annoyed by the recommended books for their age level, try branching out a little bit. Think of some books that you enjoyed as a child, or even as a young adult. If you explain hard concepts to the children as you move along. you may find that they are able to enjoy if not comprehend a lot more than you thought.
And to make up for such an off the point answer to your question, here are a few books that the Coghlan children of all ages have enjoyed over the years.
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel
A Wrinkle in Time, etc. by Madeline L’Engle
The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
How do you handle seats at the kitchen table? Assigned? Anywhere they want? What age do they stop sitting in booster seats?
We really go back and forth on this. Dad’s seat has always been at the head of the table, and Mom’s place is next to him, but we haven’t always assigned seating to the kids. Sometimes when seating is unassigned you can make a pretty shrewd guess at who is in favor with the crown by who dares to sit near Dad. All joking aside though, there are pros and cons to both ways.
 The pros of assigned seating are obvious. Dinner is bound to be more organized when it’s not a mad rush to see who can get the most highly valued seat first, whether it be a certain place at the table itself, or a seat next to someone in particular. You can separate troublemakers and be sure that they stay separated, depending of how strictly you enforce the rule, and you can pair large people with small people to ensure the teaching of manners and also that the little ones get served. The cons of assigned seating are less obvious, and may not even be applicable to some families, but in ours lets just say that some unnamed daughter (Lydia) was known to have had several emotional breakdowns over someone using “her” plate, or sitting in “her” spot. Seating a guest may be a little awkward if your children become emotionally attached to their spot at the table. Don’t laugh, it’s been known to happen. -.-
 As for sitting in booster seats, generally the child makes that decision. Or their behind just gets too big for the booster,the child graduates high school, the booster breaks, or the next baby needs it. Take your pick, it’s really never been a huge issue for us.

So, what do you think?  Does she sound like a typical self-absorbed teen, or like someone who knows a little about what goes on inside the heads of those mysterious creatures called Children?
How would you answer these questions?  See what questions the other moms are answering today:

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  1. Alice Williams says:

    Great job, Deanna! I come from a family of 6, and can well remember when we fought over who got to sit by Mommy or Daddy. My parents solved this by saying that the person with a specific chore for the week got the coveted seats, so we all knew the rule (but I’m not sure how well this would work for a larger number.

    I’m sure you will make a great mom someday.

  2. Lois J. says:

    I love it! She truly is ‘plugged’ in to her family….

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