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Published September 14, 2013, 10:00 PM

Bonding through books: Reading helps kids connect with their parents at any age

FARGO – Amy Andring started reading to her son almost immediately after his birth. Now it’s become a bedtime routine for 10-month-old Vincent, who intently watches his mom as she recites Dr. Seuss.

By: Meredith Holt, INFORUM

FARGO – Amy Andring started reading to her son almost immediately after his birth.

Now it’s become a bedtime routine for 10-month-old Vincent, who intently watches his mom as she recites Dr. Seuss.

Amy, 32, West Fargo, hopes her son’s story time will develop into a lifelong love of reading, like her own.

Katy McMullen-Wendt has the same hope for her 4½-year-old son, Henry.

The 35-year-old Fargo woman’s mom read to her every night as a child, and now she’s doing the same for her own child.

Books continue to bind Katy and her mother, who were in a book club together reading titles such as “Unbroken.”

“She’s always recommending books to me, and gives me books she’s already read,” she says.

Southeast in Willmar, Minn., Shanna Hofland and her 15-year-old daughter read the same sci-fi/fantasy series on their e-readers.

When their favorite books hit the big screen, they turn to each other in the theater and say, “Hey, that didn’t happen in the book!”

Parents like Amy, Katy and Shanna share books with their kids at every stage of development to facilitate learning and bonding.

“At any age, it’s a way to connect with your children,” says Shanna, 34.

Whether they’re chunky picture books or teen sci-fi novels, kids’ books are just as appealing to adults. And they’re having fun with it.

Here, local parents, librarians and booksellers recommend books in three age groups that both kids and their parents can enjoy.


Vincent enjoys Dr. Seuss’ “The Foot Book,” but pop-up, flap and touch-and-feel books encourage interaction in wiggly babies and toddlers.

Fisher-Price’s Little People help the youngest kids learn about different types of vehicles in “Little People Lift-the-Flap Cars, Trucks, Planes and Trains.”

“Little People” includes early-learning concepts such as colors, shapes, counting and matching.

“He likes to flip open the flaps for me to read them,” West Fargo mom Amy says.

Dorothy Kunhardt’s “Pat the Bunny” has remained a favorite since it was first published more than 70 years ago.

The finger-puppet book allows babies to touch the fake fur of a rabbit on one page and the rough sandpaper of “daddy’s scratchy face” on another.

Derek Pinnick, merchandise manager for the Fargo Barnes & Noble, also recommends Eric Litwin’s “Pete the Cat” series and Mo Willems’ “Elephant and Piggie” series.

Sandra Hannahs, director of the West Fargo Public Library, also recommends “Pete the Cat.”

“They have great pictures, they’re funny and fun to read aloud,” she says.


Shanna’s second-oldest daughter, 8-year-old Mariah, likes Barbara Park’s “Junie B. Jones” series and Mary Pope Osborne’s “Magic Tree House” series.

Though it’s called “Magic Tree House,” the series is more non-fiction-based, says Amber Emery, head children’s librarian at the Fargo Public Library. Each book is about a different time frame.

“The great thing about them is they’re popular with both boys and girls; you don’t always see that,” she says.

Hannahs says silly word play, quirky fun and unexpected twists do well, citing the “Origami Yoda” books with titles from Tom Angleberger like “Darth Paper Strikes Back” and “The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee.”

“The pages themselves are fun to look at and share, with changing fonts – some looking typewritten, some handwritten – some with ‘hand-drawn’ cartoonish pictures and scribbles,” she says.

Pinnick mentions “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio, which was No. 1 on The New York Times best-seller list.

“Wonder” follows a boy with a craniofacial deformity as he makes the transition from being home-schooled to attending a selective-enrollment school.

Pinnick also recommends the “Percy Jackson & the Olympians” series by Rick Riordan, the first two of which have been made into films.


Fantasy, science-fiction and horror series continue to dominate the young-adult shelves.

“Fantasy exploded after ‘Harry Potter,’ so there’s series after series after series,” Emery says.

Two of Shanna and her oldest daughter Arianna’s favorites are Kathy Reichs’ “Virals” series and James Patterson’s “Maximum Ride” series.

“There are so many series now geared toward the young adults that I think even as adults we enjoy,” she says.

Author Reichs, the woman behind the Fox TV show “Bones,” gave her younger readers a heroine in Temperance Brown’s niece, Tory Brennan.

Shanna likes the connection between “Bones” and “Virals,” about a group of teens exposed to an experimental strain of canine parvovirus.

“The Hunger Games” trilogy by Suzanne Collins isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, either, especially with the second movie adaptation set for release Nov. 22.

Pinnick recommends Neal Shusterman’s “Unwind” horror series for teens.

“It’s very well done, but it’s still teen-appropriate,” he says.

He says the same of John Green’s young-adult books, most notably “The Fault in Our Stars,” a coming-of-age tale of sorts.

No matter what you read with your child, keep an open mind.

Emery encourages parents to read or be aware of the content of most of their child’s selections, not only to ensure it’s appropriate but to use it as an opportunity for discussion.

“If your child really wants to read it, read it, because you might find out something new about your child that you didn’t realize before by having that shared experience,” she says.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Meredith Holt at (701) 241-5590