Every few years we read yet another study confirming how important it is to eat dinner together as a family as often as you can. It renews connections; it enlivens verbal and communication skills; it makes a happy home.
But no one—repeat, no one—is happy when food is flying, supper is met with a grimace, and dinnertime has become a circus. Eliminating battles around eating is tough enough (and we hew carefully to the wise counsel of Ellyn Satter as best as we can). Eliminating the wildness of sharing a meal together is one of our basic keys of parenting bliss. Maybe it's just because we're always racing and find ourselves so ravenous when it's time to eat, but we cherish dinnertime more than ever—and these are our best tools for making sure we all enjoy it!
What Do You Say, Dear?
Sesyle Joslin's oh-so-clever situations make manners seem modern and sassy (as opposed to old-fashioned and fusty), and Maurice Sendak's always winning art will delight you. This great book will remind all that even crocodiles merit an "Excuse me."
What Do You Do, Dear?
Again, Joslin and Sendak save us, teaching all that manners aren't all lip service. Sometimes you've got to act—whether it's helping a polar bear with her coat or making a retrieval for a tightrope walker (in the great punchline of the last page).
How to Behave and Why
The brilliant Munro Leaf of The Story of Ferdinand (a.k.a. one of the all-time greats) chimes in with this longer volume on the merits of manners, and he gets right to the sticky stuff about character and being kind and not lying and why all of this is important in a little person's world. A gem.
Madeline Says Merci
If you've got a Miss Clavel disciple in your house, you should check out this rhyming manners primer by grandson Bemelmans in the style of his grandfather's original classic.
How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food
Wait, did we jump too far ahead of you? Are we at why to be honest and how to introduce yourself and your little one is at why peas are not for launching and why supper is a seated activity? This one is a perfect starting place for you and your little darling!
"Mabel, Mabel, if you're able, keep your elbows off the table." That was the chant in my house when we were growing up, the reminder that it wasn't okay to put your elbows on the table. Nor was it okay to use your sleeve to wipe your face, burp out l... read more
Most young children seem to have selective hearing—directions are ignored, but say a sentence with the word "ice cream" and they are suddenly attentive. We don't know about you, but we would prefer that our kids have what's called "active listeni... read more