My toddler and I read Slumberkins books together to navigate difficult topics like grief and conflict — the companion stuffed animals provide added engagement and comfort

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  • I want my daughter to know that it's important to always be herself, but I need tools to help teach her that.
  • One of the tools I use is a book about authenticity that follows a unicorn who learns it's okay to stand out.
  • The book is from the Slumberkins — they have bundles of books and stuffed animals that cover important and difficult topics like stress, family change, conflict resolution, and grief and loss.
  • The stuffed animals are machine washable, and the board books are sturdy enough to resist damage.
  • Sign up for our new parenting newsletter Insider Parenting here.
  • What they're like to read
  • What makes them stand out
  • The bottom line

Broaching difficult subjects with kids is, well, difficult. When my grandmother died when I was 7 years old, I remember my mom and my school guidance counselor using books as one of their tools to help me.

Now that my daughter Ellie is 19 months old, I can already see how books are helping her through difficult situations — we have books that help her learn to sleep through the night, use the potty, and understand her emotions.

The Slumberkins Unicorn book is one such helpful book — in this case, it aims to teach Ellie to be true to herself. Slumberkins sent us a bundle to test; bundles include a super-soft stuffed animal paired with a book and an affirmation card. 

What they're like to read

Each set has a different theme that teaches an important lesson or covers a difficult topic like stress, family change, conflict resolution, or grief and loss. Ellie's bundle is called "Authenticity." The full list of Slumberkins topics includes stress-relief, self-esteem, emotional well-being, family change, conflict resolution, family bonding, relaxation, authenticity, gratitude, growth mindset, and grief and loss.

The books are beautifully illustrated. Typically, I lean toward children's books with bright colors and enticing illustrations, but Slumberkins hit the nail on the head with a muted and whimsical design that is more appropriate for serious topics.

Before I read Ellie's book, I was afraid it would be boring for her or over her head, but she enjoys reading it, even if she doesn't yet fully understand the message. It's full of different animals for her to point to and name. Having a matching stuffed animal is fun for her, too.

Ellie's book covers authenticity in a relatable way. It's much more effective than me saying things like, "It's important to be yourself," "Don't be afraid to be who you are," and "Don't change who you are for other people." The story follows a unicorn who tries to blend in with other animals before realizing she's beautiful and unique just the way she is.

Another pro: The animals are machine-washable, the book is a board book, and the affirmation card is sturdy, so you don't have to wait to introduce these materials until your child is older. I'm always surprised by how much Ellie can understand even at her age. Although these are heavy topics, a young child can learn more from these books than you'd think.

The design of the stuffed animals is unique. The entire animal is rather flat, making it easy to snuggle and perfect for bedtime. If Ellie rolls onto her unicorn in her sleep, it won't be uncomfortable for her.

What makes them stand out

In my opinion as a former teacher, the availability of free resources is where Slumberkins really hit it out of the park. Each story has a free download with questions to ask your child, discussion points, an activity, and a printable poster. These activities support learning with questions, discussion topics, and activities that help children comprehend stories much more easily.

The bottom line

If your child is going through a difficult situation or if there is an important value you want to instill in them, I highly recommend using a Slumberkins bundle as a powerful parenting tool. If you're not sure which topic would be best for your child, Slumberkins offers a "Find Your Creature Quiz" to help you figure it out.

Slumberkins also sells each book individually, making it much more cost-effective, allowing you to cover more topics with your child without breaking the bank. As Ellie grows up and needs help understanding and facing topics like grief, stress, or conflict resolution, I know exactly where I'll turn — Slumberkins.

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