Once during a search for some good children’s books I came across a book blog by Simple Mom that begins with this quote by CS Lewis, “No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally worth reading at the age of fifty.” I agree, mostly. I have noticed though that what I believe to be a great book, my daughter doesn’t like. She has the nerve to appreciate stories that drive me crazy such as The Poky Little Puppy and The Shy Kitten. Books that have art that I think is gorgeous, she doesn’t like. Books that Aneliese loved don’t hold Cecily’s attention. Books that they think are great seem to bore other kids. We love some books that are recommended to us and there are others that we don’t even finish reading. So while I am sharing a list of our favorite books, it is with a disclaimer that while I think they are all worth reading and many of them are ones that we own, they may not be you or your kids style.
I have especially learned that the first two years are filled with rhyme (Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow) and repetition (The Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson) along with simple pictures and so I have noted which ones have repetition and rhyme (Rep & R). Over the past months, we have slowly been adding longer and more in depth storylines (Emily and Daisy by Elsa Beskow or The Mitten Tree by Candace Christiansen). We mingle these with the oft-read and well-loved ones (Where’s My Teddy by Jez Alborough) until they all become well loved and we set out to find some more. I am still on the look out for a really good children’s Bible; right now we usually read from The Beginner’s Bible and like it but I would love to hear what others read from. I would say that most of the books in this list are appropriate for about up to age 5. Some are would be too young for that age and some would be too much for the first couple of years so that is just a general age.
- Something From Nothing (Rep. & R) – An Jewish Folktale of a little boy and his blanket; there is also a great picture story on the bottom of each page.
- Jillian Jiggs Series (R ) esp. Marvelous Pigs
- Balloon Tree
- Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed (Rep. & R)
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do you See?
- Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What do you See? North American Animals
- From Head to Toe
- The Very Busy Spider
- Nutbrown Hare Series – A cute series of a bunny learning about life with his daddy.
- Where’s my Teddy? – “Eddie’s off to find his teddy, Eddies Teddy’s name is Freddy…” There is a second book but we have only read the first. (R )
- Bear Snores On (R and Rep.)- This is also a series.
Nancy Van Laan
- So Say the Tiny Monkeys (R and Rep)
- When Winter Comes (R and Rep)
Nancy also has several other books that we really enjoy, most of them about different cultures and countries ; the stories are very interesting.
- Pelle’s New Suit – a little boy needs a new suit so works his way from raw wool to suit.
- Emily and Daisy- a little girl helps her mother by watching their cow and has an interesting adventure.
Elsa’s books are translated from Swedish but for the most part translate well. She has many that we have read, some are at too old a level for a three year old but I really enjoyed them. And her art is lovely!
Dr. Seuss (Rep & R)
- Oh the Thinks You Can Think One of those going to sleep books!
- Green Eggs and Ham Great for encouraging trying new things in our family!
- Make Way for Ducklings
- Blueberries for Sal
Bruce Degen (R )
- Jamberry : be sure to read Bruce’s little note at the end!
Annie North Bedford
- Farmer Brown’s Birthday (R )
Janet Morgan Stoeke
- Minerva Louise Series – a funny little hen mistakes objects for other things, such as a school for a barn. The bright pictures and few words of her mistakes are very humorous to toddlers/preschoolers.
- Ox Cart Man – goes through the seasons and work of an early nineteenth century New England Family (Well-loved by both Aneliese and Daddy).
- Belinda – how will Old Tom milk Belinda the Cow?
- Who Sank the Boat? – when several animals clamor into a boat, who sinks it?
Pamela has at least 30 children’s books and is a very humorous writer.
- Madeline Series- the first book published in 1939 and they all begin, “In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines….the smallest one was Madeline” . The simple themes are written all in rhyme and some take a couple of readings to know how the words need to be said to rhyme, but so much fun!
- The Mitten Tree – Elderly Sarah notices a little boy waiting at the bus stop with no mittens and so begins that mystery of the mittens appearing on the blue spruce tree.
- The Hat- Hedgie the Hedgehog finds a stocking that he decides is a hat much to the amusement of the farm animals.
Jan has many titles, some that we like and others that we haven’t got into yet but will in the future. The Scandinavian style of her illustrations are very appealing. Brett incorporates small pictures in her borders to give the reader clues to what is going on in other parts of the story, adding interest for older children but a often little too much visually for very young children.
Margaret Wise Brown
- The Big Red Barn A rhyming story about barn yard animals.
Margaret Wise Brown is considered a favorite children’s classics author. We really like the above book but for the most part, I find her writing somewhat choppy and awkward to read because sometimes it flows smoothly and then has a word or two abruptly out of place. Just my opinion though.
Virginia Lee Burton
- The Little House A little house that “may never be sold for silver or gold” begins out in the country on a hill all alone and over the years becomes surrounded by the city. Great illustrations and is a captivating story of change.
Burton also has some other books that I have heard are good but haven’t read; Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Maybelle the Cable Car are two that come to mind.
What are some of you and your kids favorite books? I actually have another list of books suggested by others when I asked on facebook that I am looking forward to going through once we are settled in our new home and have time to discover the library there.
* If you are interested in reading my previous entries on reading, I have given an intro, some reasons for the library, some tips on reading with kids, and a fun memory from last summer. Next, I will be sharing a list of older children’s books as well as some of the authors and books that I loved as an older child/teenager.