I am a bookworm.
As soon as I could read, I discovered a rich fantasy that I never wanted to abandon. Books contain my favorite places, my best friends, and have been my faithful companions for my entire life. Sharing this love with my daughter was one of the things I most looked forward to when I was pregnant, and it has been a joy to share my favorite children’s books, and to discover new books with her. The following are kids books that my daughter and I have grown to love:
1}. Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers.
This book is a lovely and inclusive tribute to all kinds of families. Racially diverse, multi-generational, and representing many different family structures, this lightly rhyming story is warm and uplifting. Everywhere Babies contains intricate illustrations, and I have been frequently surprised and delighted to find new details in the images at each reading, which we all know is a pleasure when you’re reading a book aloud for the seven billionth time.
2} Slinky Malinki by Lynley Dodd.
This is a captivating and delightful rhyming story that will entertain all readers, young and old. Slinky Malinki is a charmingly naughty cat, and the rich descriptive vocabulary and wry humor holds up even after multiple readings. Many, many multiple readings in my household, as this book was a favorite for years. I love all the Dodd books I’ve read, and find that her cast of animal characters are all sweet and funny, and I think they encourage compassion towards animals. Hairy Maclary and Zachary Quack is another favorite Dodd book.
3} You are My I Love You, by Maryann K.
Cusimano and Satomi Ichikawa, is a lovely, warm ode to the relationship between parents and their children, lovingly articulating the way parents protect, support, anchor, and encourage their children. This book is a sentimental choice, but I appreciate the playful, joyous tone, and the love expressed in this book.
4} Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld.
I have a weakness for children’s books that rhyme, and books about going to sleep. This book satisfies on both accounts, and is pleasantly gender neutral.
5} Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann.
A book without words? How is that possible?!? I was a bit dismayed when I received this book as a gift. I thought, “I haven’t showered in a week, how in the heck am I supposed to invent some sort of story to keep my child occupied?” This adorable book follows a wayward gorilla as it says goodnight to the other animals in the zoo. I found that I loved this book because I could narrate the story from the point of view of the gorilla, or the friendly mouse, or the zookeeper, and I never got bored while re-telling this story. The sweet ending charms me every single time I read this book.
6} Is Your Mama a Llama by Deborah Guarino.
As a former Peace Corps Bolivia volunteer, it’s sort of an unwritten and unspoken rule that I have to love llamas. I love llamas: all kids’ books about llamas, and all toy llamas too. Fortunately, this rhyming book is sweet, and poses simple, entertaining riddles, and my daughter continues to enjoy guessing the answers
7} Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney.
All of the Llama Llama books are fabulous- entirely engrossing for children and adults. What I especially appreciate about these books is that they address real life situations faced by little kids. In Llama Llama Misses Mama, Little Llama goes to preschool/childcare/kindergarten (who knows?) and misses his mother. Through playful rhyme, Llama’s feelings about being away from his mom are explored, and Llama is comforted and reassured to learn that his mother comes back at the end of every day. This book eased my daughter’s (my own) anxiety over going to preschool.
8} Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw.
This is a simple and very short story, but it is one of the books that made my daughter and I laugh and laugh. Due to its simplicity, this story lends itself especially well to a very dramatic manner of storytelling.
9} There is a Bird on Your Head by Mo Willems.
Mo Willems books are sweet and silly. This one is tender too, and I feel like it shows reasonable and human interaction between friends. This is another book that is delightful to read as dramatically as possible.
10} The Snail and the Whale, by Julia Donaldson.
This is a beautiful, environmentally conscious story about the unlikely friendship, and mutually beneficial relationship, between a snail and a whale. I love the illustrations and touching relationship between different species. The delightful rhyme makes this a pleasure to read out loud.
11} Gator Gumbo, by Candace Fleming
This is a curious book that my daughter was completely obsessed with. One of my most entertaining memories is of taking my nearly 3 year old daughter to Disney World, and having her respond to every park employee who would graciously call her “princess” by vigorously snapping “I’m Gator Gumbo!” Whether or not she identified with the clever alligator, or simply enjoyed the reaction she got when insisting that she was an alligator, not a princess, I have no idea. Either way, Gator Gumbo made a huge impression on her.
12} The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, by Du Bose Heyward.
This is a funny old book about a multitasking single mom bunny who tries to juggle work and the demands of her many children. This book appeals to me more than my daughter, but we both find it cute and charming.
13} The Mitten by Jan Brett.
All Jan Brett books have the most gorgeous illustrations and beautiful, nature-inspired stories. I can never get tired of reading and re-reading this creative masterpiece.
14} Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children by Sandra L. Pinkney.
I love this book because it celebrates a part of my daughter’s heritage. I’ve always thought it essential to make sure that my daughter sees people with her skin and hair color in the books we read (and toys she plays with.) While this can be a challenge, living in Vermont, it is something that I prioritize.
15} Curious George Goes Fishing, by H. A. Rey.
A purely sentimental choice for me. I remember loving this book when I was a child, and sharing it with my daughter has been nothing less than a delight. We both find the same passages especially entertaining, and are both charmed and delighted by Curious George.
16} Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang.
I love this book, but in a way that is bittersweet. This understated and delicate book counts down the bedtime routine between a young girl and her father. It’s a peaceful, before-bed type of book, and we’ve enjoyed it many nights as the last book before settling down to sleep.
17} Two Sticks, by Orel Protopopescu.
This is a rowdy song of a book that pulses with a fierce rhythm. The heroine, Maybelle, charms, fights, and outwits a bayou of crocodiles with her musical talents. She is so determined and courageous that you can’t help but be won over by her.