A young child’s life is full of “firsts,” and so is a parent’s! One meaningful part of caregiving is guiding children through these first experiences with love and compassion, so that our children can make the most out of these milestones. As parents, caregivers, and educators, we get to be guides and help children understand the importance of everyday occurrences, like doctor’s visits and haircuts. We also have the opportunity to view big life events, like a new baby in the family, in a different context.
Talking through milestones and preparing for them with young children is helpful and important. Children need to know they can trust adults in their life with big feelings and possible jitters. Another helpful way to keep communication open is through picture books.
Reading books about milestone experiences shows children that they’re not alone, and books often give them templates and models for how they might work through their own feelings about a new event.
Here are some books that will open a dialogue with your little one about their milestone events.
For the first day of school, read School’s First Day of School written by Alex Rex and illustrated by Christian Robinson.
Children will be able to identify with the school’s first day jitters and come away with a reassuring message that the school building is there to welcome them and their classmates for an exciting school year.
For the first trip to the dentist, read We’re Going to the Dentist by Marion Cocklico.
Whimsical illustrations and simple language in this story shows very young children what they can expect will happen at a dental checkup. There are also explanations of how dentists help our mouths healthy and why checkups are so important for our bodies.
For a first haircut, read Bippity Bop Barbershop by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley and illustrated by E. B. Lewis.
Miles is nervous about visiting the barbershop, especially when he sees the tools the barber will be using for the haircut. But his father and neighbors help him move past his fears and understand that haircuts are nothing to be afraid of.
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When a babysitter comes to the house for the first time, read Llama Llama Meets the Babysitter, an Anna Dewdney Book.
Llama Llama worries about having someone new at the house. When he greets the sitter and she offers him ice cream, games, and a caring smile, Llama begins to feel more at ease and he shares a fun night with the babysitter while Mama Llama is out.
Traveling on an airplane for the first time? Read My First Airplane Ride written by Patricia Hubbell and illustrated by Nancy Speir.
This story full of vibrant sensory details explains what it might feel like to ride on an airplane and what to expect from the journey, while reassuring readers that planes are safe and being a passenger on one can be an exciting adventure.
When a new baby arrives, read How to Welcome a New Baby, written by Jean Reagan and illustrated by Lee Wildish.
With gentle advice and a playful rhyming narrative, this book blends light humor with warmth to help small children see themselves as integral parts of their newly growing family.
For more books on this special time and how to help young children adjust to a new sibling, read Sunny Side Upbringing: A Month by Month Guide to Raising Kind and Caring Kids by Cardinal Rule Press founder Maria Dismondy.
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Christie Megill is an editorial and marketing intern at Cardinal Rule Press and she spends most of her spare time reading children’s books. She has experience as a writer, elementary school teacher, curriculum developer, and literacy specialist.