You can use children's books as a parenting companion! Samantha Munoz will show you how, and these are books I recommend for teaching life lessons.
Parenting, Playful Learning, Teaching

How to Use Children’s Books to Help with Parenting

I’m a big reader. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved escaping into children’s books and then novels. Tolkien, Steinbeck, Vonnegut, those guys were there for me. When I read The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell I was nodding, shouting “yes!” and writing down quotes every single page.

(For those that don’t know, The Power of Myth is an interview with Joseph Campbell that was transcribed. It goes into the importance of stories, and how there are common themes in stories throughout all of human history that help us make sense of the world.)

So when Samantha Munoz asked me to be a beta reader for her book The Intentional Bookshelf: Parent with Literature and Build Your Unique Child’s Perfect Little Library I was honored and excited! Parenting with literature? Heck yeah!

(This post contains some affiliate links. It costs you nothing extra but I get a little bit to help support this blog if you buy something.)

(Samantha gave me a free copy of her book for feedback but did not pay me for this review.)


You can use children's books as a parenting companion! Samantha Munoz will show you how, and these are books I recommend for teaching life lessons.

In this book, Samantha goes into the why, what and how to build your child’s intentional shelf.


Parenting is hard enough as it is, and when your child is faced with a multitude of personal and moral dilemmas, books can help guide you and your discussions.

Samantha goes into how when she first became a parent she was overwhelmed and terrified (as I’m sure many of us are!) She feared that she couldn’t possibly instill her daughter with everything she wants her to know and understand about life.

But then she realized that books can help. And not parenting books: children’s books. So many picture books and even board books for toddlers have morals and lessons to learn. As adults, I’m sure many of us have lost ourselves in stories, especially if we can see ourselves in the characters or world. In books or even in TV shows and movies. Stories can help us understand our world and ourselves. The same goes for children.


What is of value to your family? Your child has their own interests: what are they? What is your child struggling with?

This will, of course, look different for many families and children. Struggling with a lying preschooler? There are storybooks that teach the value of honesty. Is your toddler obsessed with trains? There are more children’s books than you could count with trains featured in them.


Everyone’s budget and goals are going to be so different. Some families may be able to afford 15 brand new books a month, some maybe 15 used book a year. The Intentional Bookshelf can help you figure out your how.

Samantha suggests setting a budget. She has some fun ideas on building your library, like treating it like a family date opportunity where everyone gets to pick out a set number of books.

For families on a budget, I recommend the following:

  1. Utilize your local library! Both for the enjoyment of it, but also to scope out which books you and your child would like to own.
  2. Used book stores often have children’s books still in great condition.
  3. I was surprised to find that thrift stores actually have a great selection of children’s books in great condition. I’m a big reader and I’m practically a professional thrift store shopper, however I’ve never had luck with thrift store book sections for myself. They’re less organized than used book stores and the selection typically isn’t great. That is not the case with their children’s books sections, in my experience. When I was pregnant with my first son I think I got around 30 quality board books and picture books at the thrift store for less than $20, all in great condition.

It seems that used children’s books are in one of 2 categories: Either they have been read and chewed up and ripped so much that they won’t resell, or they were never really looked at. So don’t rule out used books!


I really enjoyed reading this book. It’s short, sweet and gets right to the point, which is important for a busy parent. She frames the topic in a way that her tips can be applied by families coming from any sort of background or personal beliefs. It’s not “You want to teach your children ___, get this book:___.” It’s more practical and adaptable.

Something that I appreciated is that this is not a book about early literacy. The research shows that earlier reading is not necessarily better. At an early age, reading with our children is not about teaching them to read: it’s about teaching them to love books. As The Intentional Bookshelf goes into, it’s about teaching them life skills, and helping them understand the world.

I recommend this book to book-loving parents who struggle with teaching their children big concepts, life skills and morals. Heck, I would recommend this book to parents who don’t like reading.

The book is currently for sale for $9.95 for the paperback, or only $0.99 for the EBook.

You can use children's books as a parenting companion! Samantha Munoz will show you how, and these are books I recommend for teaching life lessons.


Our baby already owns more books than his dad and I (we used to live in a studio and got rid of all but the most important books.) But I hadn’t really been intentional about it. Me, the teacher who enthusiastically switched up the classroom’s bookshelves every other week. The person who practically calls The Power of Myth her bible. Who says “life’s too short to waste on bad books.”

Reading Samantha’s book made me realize I should be intentional with my son’s bookshelf–and I wanted to be intentional with it. Before I even finished The Intentional Bookshelf I went to the bookstore and got my son 3 new children’s books, using her “what” tips. We now have a small monthly budget for new books. I’ll allow him to pick out some, and I’ll pick out some.

If this sounds at all interesting to you, definitely check it out!


For now our childrens’ bookshelf includes a lot of simple board books. But we are already building his (and our future children’s) picture book library. These are at the top of our shopping list:

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch

For teaching our children that girls are strong and brave, and to never allow someone to disrespect you on the basis of your looks.


Enemy Pie by Derek Munson

To show our children that once you get to know someone, they probably won’t be as bad as you think. To teach our children to love your enemy and the seemingly unlovable.


The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

To give our children courage in art. That sometimes, all you need to do is start, and that there is no right or wrong way.


Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett

To teach our children that the power of positivity cannot be bought or taken from you. That when you share the love, it never runs out.


Stone Soup (classic fable told in many ways. This version by Marcia Brown)

To teach our children the power of community and giving. That the more you give, the more you receive.

What’s on your intentional bookshelf?

You can use children's books as a parenting companion! Samantha Munoz will show you how, and these are books I recommend for teaching life lessons.


  • These are great! The Paperbag Princess was one of my favorites growing up. I just bought the board book version for my younger son. You may also want to check out The Princess and the Pony, for a different and hilarious twist on the princess story. In addition, it’s useful to consider including books with protagonists who have different experiences and background than your kids do.

    • I haven’t seen a board book of Paperbag Princess! Now I’ll have to hunt for that. I’ll check out Princess and the Pony too, thanks.
      I totally agree about having a diversity in protagonists! I’m always looking for those. We’ll probably end up with all of Ezra Jack Keats’ books eventually.


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