Now for something completely different. My pal Jane Wright, mother extraordinaire, posted an extensive list of her favorite children’s books at Facebook. It was too good not to get out into a more public forum.
When (not if) you need to hammer your kid into a state of wide-eyed submission, do it with a book, not the TV.
Jane’s full post:
Upon request, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite children’s books. Some are award-winning staples for a child’s library; others less well-known. All are big hits with my two-and-a-half-year-old. I’ve tried to give a brief explanation of why each one appeals to me. These books are basically either funny and quirky or poignant without being sappy or didactic. I am by no means a Child Lit scholar, but I am very passionate about reading to children, which I know you all do religiously.
When I was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant. The last page of this story puts a lump in my throat every time I read it.
The Relatives Came also by Rylant makes me pine for the happy-crazy chaos of family reunions.
The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Palacco. The true story of a quilt passed down through the generations in her family. Memoir meets history for children. Pallaco’s Thunder Cake made me want my own Russian immigrant grandmother.
Pigsty by Mark Teague. Quirky story about a messy room with tongue-in-cheek humor for parents.
The Secret Shortcut another funny book by Teague. I like that the best friends in the book just happen to be different ethnicities without making an issue of it (which I suppose I just did by writing about it, but you know what I mean).
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein “Ickel Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me, too” is a favorite in our house. Also, “Dreadful” and “Thumbs”. I highly recommend finding a recording of Silverstein himself reading select poems.
Alphabet Mystery by Audrey Wood, illustrated by her son Bruce Wood. Not your typical alphabet book, in that it is actually entertaining for adults to read. The picture of the little letters tucked in their beds cracks us up.
Hush! A Thai Lullaby by Minfong Ho. Sweet and soothing. Hint: you can sing this story to the tune of “Mockingbird” (“Hush Little Baby”)
Fly Guy pure cartoony goofiness! Our favorite is There was an Old Lady who swallowed Fly Guy.
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears by Verna Aardema Challenge yourself to read it with a different voice for each animal in the African storytelling tradition.
Misoso a collection of African folktales from all over the continent retold by Aardema. Each story comes with an explanation of origin.
Folktales are a gateway to other cultures that open up rich conversations with children. I especially like Anansi the Spider and Coyote (the trickster) stories:
Coyote and the Laughing Butterflies and Coyote Places the Stars by Harriet Peck Taylor
Coyote: A Trickster Tale from the American Southwest by Gerald McDermott
Anansi the Spider by Gerald McDermott
Anansi does the Impossible by Verna Aardema
Boogie Knights by Lisa Wheeler “A madcap monster’s ball” where the castle creatures come to life. Written in rhyme!
Old Cricket also by Wheeler. Cricket fakes injury to get out of work because “you don’t get to be an Old Cricket by being a dumb bug”!
Three Little Dassies by Jan Brett An African retelling of The Three Pigs. Illustrations have special emphasis on regional textiles. And really, I have yet to read a Jan Brett story that I wasn’t wild about. I love how Brett uses her illustrations as clues as to what will happen next. (Predicting is a pillar of reading comprehension!)
Another favorite, Mem Fox: Koala Lou; Whoever You Are; Zoo Looking; Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes; Winifred Gordon MacDonald Partridge; Tough Boris are our favorites so far.
A Nightmare in the Attic by Mercer Mayer. All the nightmare wants is a teddy bear to snuggle with. All the kid wants is for her parents to believe her. We also love Mayer’s little critter books–great for a quick bedtime story.
Snow “Snowflakes don’t watch television. Snowflakes don’t listen to radio. All snowflakes know is snow, snow, snow.” Wonderful illustrations that show adult and child’s perspective of winter.
The Z was Zapped Chris van Alsburg’s ingenious black and white illustrations in a theater setting. Great vocabulary builder.
Fairy tales and tall tales retold and illustrated by Steven Kellog. Our favorites are Jack and the Beanstalk and Paul Bunyan. Richly detailed illustrations are a visual treasure hunt.
I Took the Moon for a Walk reads like a lullaby. Allison Jay’s pictures are magnificent! (Jay’s alphabet book is a must-have for littles)
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen is one of, if not the best-written children’s books I have ever read. A simple, yet profound story of a girl and her father in search of the great horned owl.
What are your favorites? What are your go-to books at bedtime? Which stories mesmerize your child?
To this list I would add Curious George:
Classic Curious George, on the left, not this newfangled crap they’re pushing nowadays, of course.
And can’t forget Skippyjon Jones, perennial bedtime heavy hitter.