Books to Help Children with First Experiences

Books to Help Children with First Experiences

As adults, we experience new things every once in a while; however for your little one, with each new day comes a brand new experience. Every day your child will experience something that is unfamiliar to them, which can lead to many different emotions – nervousness, excitement, anxiousness, happiness or sadness, for example. What’s important is that you support your child as much as you can, helping them to manage all the emotions associated with their first experiences.

Books are great tools for helping your little one to cope with these new experiences. Books enable your child to understand and learn more about each new experience, and relating to characters in similar situations will help them to feel like they are not alone. What’s more, reading aloud to your children will help to comfort them during these new experiences while restoring a sense of normality.

Here’s our pick of our favourite first experience books:

First train ride

The noise, the speed, the crowds… trains and train stations can be overwhelming for children who have never experienced them before. You want your little one to love their first train ride, so before the big day make sure you read Lydia Monks’ Mungo Monkey goes on a Train together. This adventure book tells the story of Mungo Monkey’s exciting train ride with his grandparents and sister, Mimi. Through reading the story and lifting the flaps to reveal many surprises along the way, your child will learn that trains lead to new adventures and exciting experiences, and that they aren’t so scary after all!

First trip to the doctors

No child likes visiting the doctors’ surgery. Being examined by a stranger can be a very unnerving experience for them, as can receiving painful injections or having to take any prescribed medicine.

What your little one needs to understand before their appointment is that doctors are there to make people better, and a great book to use to teach kids this is Peppa Pig: George Catches a Cold. In the story, George catches a cold after going out in the rain without his hat on, and he is prescribed medicine by Dr Brown-Bear. In the story, George learns how to take his medicine and realises that a doctor’s job is to make people well again.

First trip to the dentist

Your child’s very first trip to the dentist can be as daunting as the doctors’ surgery, so to help put their minds at ease pick up a copy of Topsy and Tim: Go to the Dentist by Jean and Gareth Adamson. Your child may already know the duo from their popular television series, which will help them to relate with their experiences. Not only does this book reassure children that a trip to the dentist isn’t scary, it also teaches them about the importance of taking good care of their teeth – which means less trips to the dentist!

A new brother or sister

Learning that there will be a new addition to the family can evoke mixed emotions from your firstborn: they might be excited about the prospect of having a little brother or sister to play with, or they might feel jealous that they will soon have to share their mummy and daddy with someone else.

A new baby is a huge change, not just for you but for your children as well. The best thing you can do is to start preparing them for change as early as possible. There’s a House Inside My Mummy tells the story of a young boy eagerly waiting for his younger sibling to arrive. Both his anticipation and excitement is conveyed through pictures and simple rhyming text, which can help your little one look forward to the arrival of their new brother or sister.

As well assuring your child that gaining a sibling will be an exciting experience, it’s good for them to understand that lots of things will change once the baby arrives. Set in the Royal Palace, Hooray! It’s a New Royal Baby! tells the story of the Duke and Duchess as they prepare their home for the arrival of their baby. Lots of things need doing – and they’ve certainly got their work cut out. Reading this story, your little one will learn all about what’s involved when a new baby moves into the home and will help them to prepare for what’s ahead.

I’m a New Big Brother: A Pirate Pete book is an interactive sound book ideal for helping young children come to terms with having a new sibling. Reading the story together, and pressing the sound button to hear the baby giggling, will help your child realise how much fun being a big brother will be.

First pair of glasses

Similarly to the doctors and the dentist, a visit to the opticians is another new experience that might make children uncomfortable. In Peppa Pig: Peppa’s First Glasses, Peppa takes a trip to the optician after realising that she can’t see very well. Children can read about the experience with their favourite character and learn that those big machines and the stranger looking at their eyes aren’t so scary after all.

And if it turns out that your child needs to start wearing glasses, try introducing them to Arlo Needs Glasses. Kids can join in with Arlo as he tries on different pairs of glasses – including mad scientist and superhero ones – looks through a fold-out phoropter and reads an eye chart. Plus, Arlo tells us all about the great things he’s rediscovered since his glasses have helped him see better, including playing catch and reading!

Moving home

Moving home for the first time is a major milestone for any child. They are saying goodbye to the house they spent the first years of their life in, and may be leaving their friends behind, too. In Topsy and Tim: Move House, the twins help their parents prepare for moving house while comforting Kitty, who doesn’t seem too sure on the idea. Topsy and Tim are relatable characters who many children are already familiar with, which can help your child to see moving home as a positive experience.

First day at school

Your child’s first day at school is one of the most important and memorable days of their younger years, and is no doubt a really significant day for you, too. On the run-up to the big day, your little one is bound to feel nervous; however, teaching your child about what to expect can help to put their minds at ease.

A great book you can use to do this is I am Too Absolutely Small for School. Featuring the characters Charlie and Lola from the popular television series, the story addresses all the worries and fears children may have about their first day at school in a fun and humorous way. The book teaches kids about the importance of going to school and about how much fun it can be.

It can also be helpful to tell your child that it’s okay to feel nervous or shy. Make them aware that there are hundreds of thousands of children starting school on the same day as them, and they all feel nervous, too. Mouse’s First Night at Moonlight School is a great book to use to teach children that feeling nervous and shy will only been temporary, and they’ll soon feel confident and happy at school. At the start of the book, Mouse is too shy to even say hello, but as the story progresses her teacher and new friends help her to feel happy and confident.

A new pet

Welcoming a new pet into the household can be a super-exciting time for kids, so much so that they want to keep them all for themselves and not share with anyone! Nevertheless, it’s important that kids know that pets are for the whole family to enjoy, whilst understanding the work that’s needed to look after animals. What Shall We Call Wibbly’s Puppy? can help kids to understand the responsibility associated with having a pet. Covering themes such as friendship, fun and corporation, it teaches little ones that a house pet is for everyone and not just for them!

Eating new foods

As adults, we like to try things at least once, but for kids it’s a different story – particularly when it comes to food. For most children, if they don’t like the look of it they simply won’t eat it. Fussy eating can prove to be problematic, particularly when your child refuses to eat fruit and veg because they don’t like the way it looks.

I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato, featuring Charlie and Lola, is a great book for encouraging fussy eaters to try more foods. In the award-winning picture book, Charlie convinces his little sister that carrots are orange twiglets from mars and peas are green drops from Greenland. And, at the end of the story, Lola realises that the foods she said she dislikes don’t taste so terrible after all.

Bedtime routine

Getting kids to bed is a problem many parents struggle with. Bedtime approaches and the little ones suddenly gain a new lease of life and start running amok.

Yet, as a parent you’ll know that getting into a bedtime routine is incredibly important, particularly when your children start school and need their early nights. If your little one refuses to sleep, try reading Goodnight Tractor with them. This rhyming story is told through the eyes of a young boy who says goodnight to all of his favourite toys; once you’ve read the book together, your child can practice saying goodnight to all of their favourite toys, too!

In I am Not Sleepy and I Will Not Go to Bed, Charlie tries numerous methods to try and get his sister, Lola, to bed. Lola loves staying up late and insists she will not feel sleepy no matter the time. This classic picture book tackles tricky bedtimes in a way that is both humorous and engaging for parents and children. And hopefully your little one will have settled down by the time you reach the final page.

Potty Training

Potty training is a tricky task that all parents are faced with. While some children make the transition with ease, other children are strictly pro-nappy and will completely refuse the potty. To those children, try reading I Want My Potty! to them. In this colourful picture book, Little Princess refuses to use the royal potty. However, after some time, she realises that the potty isn’t so bad after all and she soon waves goodbye to her childish nappies. This short, humorous story can really help your little one make that all-important transition from Pampers to potty.

Sharing

We’re all taught to share from a very young age, but many children struggle when it putting it into practice. In Pip and Posy: The Super Scooter, Posy steals Pip’s scooter and tries to ride it but falls off. Pip is angry but runs to help Posy, and he forgives her after she apologises. This story teaches children about the importance of sharing and asking permission to use other people’s belongings. But, there is another lesson to be learned: that of forgiveness.

Telling lies

All children will tell fibs every now and again; they may have used the classic ‘I didn’t do it’ line on you one or two times before, or make up stories to impress their friends in the playground.

However, telling lies has numerous repercussions and your child needs to be aware of these. Jonny Duddle’s Gigantosaurus has a similar message to The Boy Who Cried Wolf, the classic fable that will help your child learn about the consequences of telling too many lies – but with cool dinosaurs that will keep your child’s attention.

Bereavement

There is no doubt that losing a loved one is a difficult time for everyone, but it can be particularly upsetting for children who have never lost anyone before. Through tough times such as these, you need to sympathise with your son and daughter and offer them support whenever they need it.

There are a couple of books you can use to help your child manage the emotions associated with loss and bereavement. One of these is Badger’s Parting Gifts, which is the story about a group of friends who slowly overcome the death of their friend, Badger, by remembering all the things he taught them. This story, told with sensitivity, helps children to learn that even when people die, the memories of them will live on.

Another book to read, particularly when you lose a pet, is Goodbye Mog. In this story, Mog the cat dies and watches over the upset Thomas family who try to cope with their loss. When the family get a new kitten, they slowly become happier, despite saying that they will always remember their beloved Mog. This story teaches children about acceptance and that they will eventually overcome the grief associated with losing a person or animal they love.

Have we missed a book that was important in helping your little one deal with a first experience? We’d love to hear about it in the comment box below.