Last week, I announced a new Wednesday blog series dedicated to Kid Lit. I’m calling it “Reading Wednesdays” and it will be written in collaboration with children’s media specialist Lauren Davis from Happily Ever Elephants, who will post here every other Wednesday. What’s happening on all those other Wednesdays then? Well, on those days you are still stuck with ME. That’s my time to share my favorite kid books and new discoveries.
NOTE: I am well aware that today is Thursday. Something came up yesterday and then the kids kind of took over and I didn’t get a chance to post until late last night when I promptly passed out on the couch. So. Please do me a favor and let’s just pretend that I didn’t drop the ball on the second Wednesday of the series!
Since Lauren shared her family favorites last week, I thought today would be a good day to share our well-worn favorites too. There were a few in her list that I would have included in mine, like The Incredible Book Eating Boy and Last Stop on Market Street, but in the interest of sharing new books, I decided to let her have those two and pick something different. There are certainly tons of books on our shelves to choose from.
In fact, Mazzy and Harlow’s book shelf literally broke last night under the weight of too many books. As of this morning, there is a loose shelf on the floor, surrounded by mountains of books. Mike took his tool box out but has yet to actually fix anything. Any bets on how long that will take?
I also decided to leave out a few books that I wanted to include in future lists. For instance, we have gotten a lot of books with strong female role models lately, but instead of including them here, I wanted to save them for a post of their own.
We like funny books in my home. Clever and sometimes odd books. You won’t see Goodnight Moon or Guess How Much I Love You on the list below, even though we own both. The books I chose are the ones that my whole family has agreed on since Mazzy was little and still ask me to read today. They are the books I love to read aloud. The books my kids know by heart. The ones that make us all laugh. They have been pulled out and flipped through again and again and again until they are literally ripping at the seams.
I hope these books bring your home as much joy as they do mine.
Iggy Peck, Architect is all about staying true to your dreams and passions, no matter who might undermine them along the way. It’s one of the best rhyming books out there and my kids still get a big kick out of the time Iggy “built a great tower in only an hour with nothing but diapers and glue.” There are now two more books in this series— Ada Twist, Scientist and Rosie Revere, Engineer. Although we own both and love them, especially because it shows girls interested in science and math, Iggy is still the best story and our favorite. One cool thing that my kids have loved discovering if you buy all three books is that Iggy, Ada and Rosie are all in the same class so you can find each of them in each book even if they aren’t called out by name. You can also spot tiny details in their neighborhood, like Iggy’s pyramid behind Ada Twist ‘s house.
The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak is pure genius. He has said that he wanted to create a book that showed kids that words can be just as fun and interesting as pictures. He succeeded in that nothing makes my kids laugh louder than this book. It’s a lot of fun for the parents to read (there are big words and small words showing you what to emphasis and when) with tons of opportunities for kids to chime in and interact. It’s really almost impossible for an adult to read it without sounding entertaining and getting laughs. One caveat is the use of the phrase “boo boo butt” which made one teacher I know ban it from her classroom. We don’t mind so much, but it should be known that Mazzy and Harlow have been calling Mike “Daddy Boo Boo Butt” going on two straight years.
For a couple of picky eaters like my kids, Can I Eat That? has been an awesome way to introduce my kids to new foods that they would probably never dream of eating, like sea urchin. At least not yet. There is a ton of engaging word play (“Do eggs grown on eggplants?”), questions that get kids to interact (“If there is bac-on, is there bac-off?”), fun with perspectives (“Is this a close-up cheerio or a far away doughnut?”), and educational references to foods from other countries like France, Mexico and Japan. I think the book is worth it just to hear Harlow repeat “Uni Donburi!”
Mo Willems is one of our favorite authors and I actually had to delete a few selections from this list or else it would have seemed a little one note. I cannot delete Knuffle Bunny though because we’ve read this book so many times, both kids have it memorized. It’s about a little girl who loses her favorite stuffed animal and her dad’s journey to get it back, which Mazzy appreciates especially because she’s been in that exact scenario with her blankie, Boo. Another nice feature for many NYC parents is that the book weaves together illustrations with familiar black and white photos of Brooklyn.
When I first got Monsters Eat Whiny Children, I wasn’t sure if it was too scary for the kids. It seemed more like a joke book geared towards parents. It sat on the shelf for awhile until one day Mazzy asked me to read it. She LOVED it. Two monsters (who happen to be a married couple that remind me of the Costanzas) capture a brother and sister who have been whining. The monsters and their various monster relatives and neighbors then have to decide how to cook them which ends up sounding a lot like when you try to figure out what you want for take-out with a group of adults. One monster is on a diet and doesn’t want to eat bread, another doesn’t like spicy food, nobody is in the mood for Indian, etc. The dialogue is truly hilarious and there is a happy ending— while the monsters whine about how to cook them, the kids are able to escape.
The House on East 88th Street is a classic and borders on the bizarre. The Primm family moves into their new home only to find that a crocodile named Lyle is living in the bathtub. Initially, they are scared until they receive a letter from “Hector P. Valenti, of stage and screen” who tells them that the crocodile is friendly. Lyle ends up winning over the Primms and becoming a welcome member of their family, until Hector returns to ask for him back. This is the first book in the Lyle Crocodile series. I’m not sure what the message is except the book surprises, has a great sense of humor and teaches kids that the best stories involve a lot of imagination.
This Moose Belongs to Me is from another one of favorite children’s authors and illustrators, Oliver Jeffers. Follow him on Instagram— you won’t be disappointed. It’s about a boy who believes he owns a moose and creates a set of rules for their relationship, only to realize that the moose is actually a free animal who belongs to no one, but they can still be friends. The book is a lot more clever and witty than that description suggests, with beautiful painted mountain backdrops behind Jeffers’ signature illustrations. You’ll just have to trust me.
The Day the Crayons Quit tells the story of group of angry crayons who leave their owner, a little boy named Duncan, a bunch of letters describing their exact grievances. Blue is sick of coloring large expanses like the sky and ocean, Black doesn’t want to be used only for outlines, Red doesn’t want to work so hard on holidays, etc. etc. In the end, to win back over the crayons, Duncan draws the most magnificent picture of all. It’s a super fun lesson on creativity and thinking outside the box.
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type is a clever book about a group of farm animals who are cold in their barn so the cows decide to write a letter to Farmer Brown demanding electric blankets. When the farmer doesn’t respond, they refuse to give him milk and eggs. The demands go back forth with neither side budging but Farmer Brown getting increasingly mad about the influx of typewritten letters. Finally, the cows say that in return for the electric blankets, they will give Farmer Brown their typewriter. This is a really fun book (“click clack moo” is repeated often so the kids love joining in) which teaches the powers of negotiation, compromise and peaceful protest. By working together and being reasonable, the workers end up getting what they want from their boss.
We love the Elephant & Piggie series and Pigs Make Me Sneeze! is one of Mazzy and Harlow’s favorites. It’s a simple story about an elephant named Gerald who believes he is suddenly allergic to his best friend, Piggie, because he can’t stop sneezing around him. When he finds out it is just a cold, he rushes excitedly to tell Piggie, only to discover that Piggie caught his cold. My kids love this book because all of the dialogue is written in comic bubbles, which makes it a very fun story to role play and tell together. Little kids can just listen, but now that Mazzy is older, we love to act it out together for Harlow.
11) For Just One Day
For Just One Day is one of the first books I bought for Mazzy that was not a board book when she was a baby. It’s got a fun rhyming structure with beautiful illustrations about a little boy who imagines himself to be all different animals for just one day, but ultimately is happy to be himself. There is a mirrored page at the end so the kids can see themselves too. Mazzy and Harlow requested this book so many times that it slowly fell apart. I taped page after page until eventually the cover fell off and I knew it had lived its life and was time to go. It was a sad day when I threw that old favorite away.
There are so many other books I want to include, but I keep trying to remind myself that there will be tons of opportunities further into my new Kid Lit series. Come back next Wednesday for Lauren’s next list of recommended books!
What children’s book did you read to your kids so often so that it eventually fell apart?