I think this is one of the best conversations we’ve had so far at The Read-Aloud Revival.

Today we’re talking “messy” books. Parents – you probably know just what I mean.

Messy books are those books that tackle hard topics. Or maybe they just have stuff in the background that makes us a little nervous about our kids reading them.

Today I’m talking with Betsy Farquhar of Redeemed Reader about how best to handle these kinds of books, and why we shouldn’t just ignore them – even if they make us a little uncomfortable.

I enjoyed this conversation so very much, and came away with a ton of confidence and a lot of great books to read with my kids!

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • why as parents, WE need to be the ones to have big conversations with our kids, and how books can provide  hooks to start those conversations
  • why controversial books are so popular
  • ‘read-alones’ vs ‘read-alouds’
  • various ways we can navigate the tough stuff with our kids

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Use the time stamps below to skip to any part of the podcast:

  • 3:38 Meet Betsy
  • 6:25 How Redeemed Reader chooses books
  • 7:17 What makes a book ‘messy?’
  • 10:14 Are older books ever messy?
  • 11:38 Why do messy books freak us out?
  • 17:15 What to do when our kids hear/read something messy
  • 19:31 Why are controversial books often so popular
  • 24:06 Ongoing conversations
  • 27:55 Best books for handling messy topics
  • 31:05 Read-alones versus read-alouds
  • 32:14 YA recommendations
  • 37:18 Let the kids speak

A couple takeaways from this episode …

  • “I think that in so many ways, the books we read with our kids– messy or otherwise– are the best gateways into some of those conversations that are uncomfortable that we don’t really want to have with our kids but we know we need to have with our kids.
  • “There has to be some kind of redemption. It doesn’t mean there’s always the happy ending, but it does mean there has to be an overall sense of hope and ability to help the reader see the world with fresh eyes,  to see things new.”

Books from this episode:

(All links are Amazon affiliate links.)

Episode 85
Charlotte’s Web
The Family Under the Bridge
The Penderwicks
The Giver Quartet boxed set
Frog and Toad Are Friends (Frog and Toad I Can Read Stories Book 1)
Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs (Picture Puffin Books)
The Great Gilly Hopkins
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (The Herdmans series Book 1)
When You Reach Me
The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street
Bedtime for Frances (Trophy Picture Books (Paperback))
Shiloh (The Shiloh Quartet)
Every Falling Star: The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea
The Watcher
Somebody on This Bus Is Going to Be Famous
Goodbye Stranger
Disappeared
Tangerine
Circus Mirandus
Long Way Down
Under Our Skin: Getting Real about Race. Getting Free from the Fears and Frustrations that Divide Us.
Old Yeller
Tuesdays at the Castle
You Bring the Distant Near

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