1. Collect Picture Books when Traveling
When you travel to a new place find a picture book that represents that location. It may be a picture book about the area itself or it could be a book from a local author. Just make sure it’s a quality picture book that you would want to reread again or even have out on display.
This is my favorite picture book tradition! I started this tradition before even having kids! This was a great start to building my children’s library with a variety books, but also such a great way for memories to live on! Now that I have a little boy (and another on the way), I have continued this tradition which makes it even more meaningful. I ALWAYS write in the date and location in the front of the book with a sharpie.
Other ways to extend this tradition:
*Put a picture from that day in the front of the book as well. A little tape would do the job just fine!
*Write down a little memory in the front of the book from the day you bought it. For example, if you visited an apple orchard write about how your child reacted or something they did during that time.
The great thing about this tradition is that it allows you to see children’s books that might not be in your local bookstore. You can support local authors in the places you visit. You might even buy a book in another language (the pictures tell so much of the story). We went to Spain one year and I bought a book in Catalan. The lady at the bookstore even wrapped the book in wrapping paper for me. I still haven’t unwrapped that book yet. I don’t know why. I feel like watching her wrap the book while trying to communicate in two different languages was such a special memory and I don’t want to ruin it. However, one day it will be unwrapped! Hopefully, before a return visit to Spain!
We went on a trip to the Northeast when my first son just turned one. I bought books that he definitely wasn’t ready for yet, but then this year I was able to read them to him and it brought back all those amazing memories. If you check out my Instagram page @story.baskets, you’ll see the book From Apples Trees to Cider, Please! We purchased this book in Waterbury, Vermont and it basically retold our amazing fall day of apple picking, apple cider and cider doughnuts!
If you’ve already bought books before you actually have a child or before it is age-appropriate, you can use those books to introduce a new place you may be going. Giving children some prior knowledge of a place can help them make connections once they are there, get them excited for where you are going and keep them engaged as well.
There are SO many benefits of the tradition! Learning is an obvious one but preserving memories is my favorite one!
Plus, how many times has your child picked out a toy from somewhere that in a week’s time they have lost interest in? Favorite books come and go but they can always be revisited later as your child grows over time.
I could write about this tradition all day! I just really want to travel somewhere now! I hope you start this tradition with your littles!
2. Collect Picture Books from Local Attractions
Think about all the places you have taken your child to for various experiences like the zoo, aquarium, botanical gardens or other local attractions. In the gift shop there are ALWAYS picture books available for purchase! The books usually (and should be) related to the type of attraction you are visiting.
For example, at our local aquarium I purchased the picture book Wendell the Narwhal by Emily Dove. This book was one I had never heard of before. The characters are all ocean creatures and the premise is about finding your own special talent. It is beautifully written and illustrated and one of my son’s favorite books! There were many books to choose from but this was a quality picture book with a wonderful theme. It was like I had found hidden treasure! There are many “cheesy” books for sale at local attractions so, again, be aware of what you are looking to add to your collection. Don’t just buy a book to buy a book.
You can do the same tradition with these books as well. Write the date in them, add a picture, or write in a memory.
3. Buy Books as Gifts
I have always loved giving books as gifts for baby showers, birthdays, Christmas, etc. I believe it is such a personal gift to receive. You must truly know that child’s interests to get them a book they will love. You can write in them to personalize them as well. “I saw this book and thought of you because…”. Plus it is something they can keep for a long time and hopefully one day cherish with their own child! You can read more about this tradition in the blog post “Books as Gifts.”
4. Pair Books with a Snack
First of all, reading a book during snack time is one of the best ways to get your child to listen to a longer story and stay focused. They have their hands busy eating or drinking something which extends their attention span.
A great way to extend this is to make a snack that represents the book! We recently read Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and made some cute broomsticks to match our story. Simply put some skinny pretzel rods into a Reese’s peanut butter cup and you’re all set. We all used our “cauldron” for a little snack mix for extra fun. This was a sweet set up for Halloween, but of course making healthy snacks with fruit works too! Get creative! Look up ideas on Pinterest. There are so many!
5. Buy a Series of Books
Find a series of books that you and your child enjoy reading together. When I was growing up, I collected Clifford the Big Red Dog. It was always so fun to go on a hunt for one of the books I didn’t have. This can be for picture books or for chapter books as your children get older as well. I still have all my Clifford books from my childhood to this day and not I get to share those fond memories of reading these books with my own children. When your child has a favorite series of books they are motivated to learn to read or to read more. They develop na loyalty to those books and will search them out and reread them over and over again.
If there’s not a book series that strikes you or your child, there may be an author that they enjoy. Collect the books from that particular author and discuss the similarities and differences between their different books.
As you’ve noticed many of these traditions are indeed traditions- something that your child will hold in their memories for years to come. We want to build strong connections with our children and building memories through book traditions is one way of doing that. Pick one tradition and start there. Don’t put pressure on yourself or it takes away from the experience.