Safety Tip #102: Never stop reading aloud to your kids
The question that is on every parent's minds.
Are fun books just mindless fun or are they also educational?
Well, the first priority is to keep books fun.
Of course, if you can also include some boring stuff, you have a winner on your hands.
Confused? Read on.
In real life, some topics are simply too boring for kids - they just switch off.
Plead with them, reason with them, beg ... nothing helps.
They switch off.
Many authors have tried to make books that entertain and educate - only to fail miserably, as children's radars are fine-tuned to detect thinly-veiled attempts to "lecture" them.
Fret not. There is salvation around the corner.
Believe it or not, Officer Buckle and Gloria is a picture book that is all about the dreaded "R" word.
And your kids will lap it up.
No, this is not a picture book about fun rules like: "Always take a shower with your cat" or "Brush your teeth only if your parents buy you an X-large lollipop"
No, this book is about the real heavy stuff.
The dreaded "Never play with matches" and "Never put things in your ear" stuff.
The boring stuff.
It is about safety tips. You heard me well.
Get ready for a revolution in your house, as your little ones will be attracted to safety tips as moths to a fire.
Yes, this is a book that will turn their world around.
Shaping One's Own Future
Fear is the foundation of safety.
A word that represents something (or someone) that is:
1. intended to convey instruction and information as well as pleasure and entertainment (Cool! Kids love pleasure and entertainment!)
2. inclined to teach or lecture others too much, like a boring, didactic speaker (Yeah, kids love that! Not.)
Kids love it when you put some fun center stage and "disguise" the lesson.
Children are not naive, they know there is a lesson hiding inside, but they appreciate the effort to make it entertaining.
In our home, as a result of reading this book, we had our first serious talk about the danger that strangers can represent and how important it is never to accept food or drinks or presents from strangers.
Yep, that talk.
But this time around, my kids asked for safety tips. All of a sudden, they started craving safety tips.
They wanted to understand all the little safety tips that are listed on the little scraps of paper that Officer Buckle thumbtacks on his board.
Why you should never drink things you find under the sink?
Why you should never put things up your nose?
Why you should never play alone in the car?
They want to know the details.
Crazy! All of a sudden, my twins became little safety freaks.
Safety Tip #77: Never stand on a swivel chair.
But this is not a fluke.
Even before you start reading Officer Buckle and Gloria, your kids will know it is a hilarious book.
The screaming colors, the cartoonish characters and the masterful cover page meant that my twins were fighting over the book as soon as they saw it.
Will it work for your kid, you wonder?
I've got two words for you: policeman + dog.
Some things are just too easy.
Rub Your Eyes, 'Cause It's Not Hard To See
You cannot open a book without learning something.
Officer Buckle from Napville has an important task.
He is the police officer of choice for schools, when it comes to presenting safety lessons to pupils.
Officer Buckle from Napville is dedicated to his job, he is meticulous and orderly.
Alas for him and the kids who listen to him churning out his safety tips, his presentations are also mind-numbingly boo-oooring.
Nobody ever listened.
Sometimes, there was snoring.
Aftterward, it was business as usual.
Yes, the more he tried, the less effect he had.
Everything changes one day when the Napville Police Department receives a police dog named Gloria.
When she starts accompanying officer Buckle to his school presentations, good-natured Gloria stirs up emotion and commotion.
She stands behind officer Buckle and starts mimicking the advice that he is giving. She steals the show secretly, while back-miming every safety tip that the police officer reads.
By pantomiming the advice officer Buckle gives, she breathes life into his dull words and the audience rolls with laughter.
The audience is engaged and the safety tips are finally taken to heart by the kids who start writing fan mail to Gloria and officer Buckle.
Yet, the joke is on poor officer Buckle who is the only one unaware of what is going on behind his back.
Eventually, after discovering what Gloria was up to, the partnership cools off until one day the police officer comes to understand that the secret to his success was Gloria all along.
The friendship is restored and officer Buckle even devises a new safety tip:
Safety Tip #101: Always Stick With Your Buddy
Author and illustrator Peggy Rathmann, who won a very well deserved 1996 Caldecott Medal for Officer Buckle and Gloria, in this picture book did exactly the opposite of what her main characters are doing.
Fun is clearly center stage in this picture book, while the lessons about teamwork, safety and camaraderie are lurking from the background.
Rathmann got the priorities right in this fabulous picture book, as the main lesson kids should always take away from reading a book is the following:
Reading is FUN!
Office Buckle and Gloria is available from bookstores in the US:
The Book Depository (free worldwide shipping)
and other countries: