Everyone who knows me knows that reading is as essential to me as breathing – good stories have been a significant part of my life since I was a little girl. I’ve always loved books, and even as an adult I adored pictured books. However, my love for the picture book has increased tenfold since having my two (adorable!) little boys – ages 3 and 19 months. As a mom, my book picks have changed quite markedly than had you asked me while I was studying writing for children/teens before I had kids of my own. Some books contain illustrations that are, unquestionably, exquisite, or they possess a literary prowess that would make some of the great authors swoon. But I quickly came to learn that when you read some of these works to little ones, as much as you wish it, they just can’t relate. The traits that you find so fantastic zoom right over their heads and spark no reaction. So this list — these ten — are among my favorites to read with my boys (although, please note that I would have much rather given you a list of twenty!!) These are the books that create belly laughs that bounce back and forth between the walls of their bedrooms, and these are the ones that inspire joy in them as kids and me as a parent. These are the books that imbue story time with magic and the ones that spark curiosity, unlock their imaginations, and teach them about bravery and perseverance. And, perhaps most of all, these are the books that indulge their naturally inquisitive natures and that beautiful sense of wonder that comes hand in hand with this glorious stage of life we call childhood. These are our books:
The Little Engine that Could, by Watty Piper: The words “I think I can, I think I can” hold so much power. There is no better mantra to teach your young child.
The Book with No Pictures, by BJ Novak: Belly laughs. Snorts and squeals. Uncontrollable giggles. This is one of the most fun read alouds ever.
Sleep Like a Tiger, by Mary Logue: This is the most beautiful bedtime book. We adore its enchanting illustrations, and it has such a gentle cadence that practically lulls little ones to sleep.
Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys, and Their Monkey Business, by Esphyr Slobodkina: This was one of the first books my oldest wanted to read over and over and over again. So much fun to read, act out, and get silly with. Those darn monkeys!
A Sick Day with Amos McGee, by Philip Stead: If only we all could go through the world with such empathy. This is such a beautiful read about loyalty and friendship, and it makes my heart sing with every read.
The Dot, by Peter Reynolds: Oh how I love Vashti! Whenever I hear my big one say he “can’t” do something, we pull this book out. Such a fabulous read about self-discovery and putting forth your best effort.
Rosie Revere, Engineer and Iggy Peck, Architect (don’t make me choose! that would be akin to making me decide which of my kids is cuter – its impossible!), by Andrea Beaty: These are my favorite, favorite books about perseverance. Love the illustrations, the fabulous rhyming couplets, and the premise of each of these stories. Counting down the days until Ada Twist comes out!
This is Sadie, by Sara O’Leary: Perfection. Any book that imparts a love of story and imagination, together with a pitch-perfect narrative and gorgeous illustrations wins my heart.
Hannah and Sugar, by Kate Berube: This is one of my favorite new releases. It is such a tender exploration of fear and courage, and my big one just adores it,, especially because he is totally scared of dogs (and spiders, lizards, dust, and his own shadow, but who is counting?!) Berube so deftly uses her illustrations to slow the pacing, heighten the tension, and create that special “wow” moment. It’s wonderful!
Secret Tree Fort, by Brianne Farley: We just got this book last week at a friend’s recommendation and, oh my goodness, we fell in LOVE! I totally relate to the sister dynamic in this story because I’m the youngest of two girls. Farley brilliantly portrays the sibling dynamic and the younger sister’s repeated attempts to get her older sister to pay attention to her. I literally laughed out loud multiple times. So much fun, so true to life, and fabulous, vibrant illustrations.
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