Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Best Children's Books: My Top Picks, The Cream of the Crop, The Pick of the Litter

The other day, I thought I should write down a list of all the books my little girl has enjoyed and is now enjoying so that I would have a reference for future kids and for baby shower gifts. I am posting some of our favorites on here in case any of you are expecting your first child, wanting ideas for a baby shower, or are just looking for some new books to get at the library for the kiddoes. I didn't include some of the obvious "greats" like Where the Wild Things Are and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, the Seussand Jumanji, and Winnie the Pooh, mostly because my little girl really doesn't like reading any of those right now. I'm not sure why. Do I own them. Yes. Do I think they are grand. Yes. But this is a list of books that my little girl and her friends at play school really enjoy. And most of them are not gender specific. 

So now, in no particular order:

1. Sandra Boynton's Opposites, Moo, Baa, La La La, The Going to Bed Book, Barnyard Dance, Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs

The first book I read to my little girl was a copy of Sandra Boynton's Opposites--and she fell in love with it. Boynton's books are fabulous because she is the master of simple but effective illustrations that are eye-catching and colorful. She combines this with rhythmic text that is fun to say and hear. With the exception of a couple (Blue Hat, Green Hat and Doggies) these books just don't get old. My girl is two and a half now and she still likes to read these books.

2. Will Hillenbrand's Down By the Station & Mother Goose  
Down by the Station and Fiddle-I-F
ee are pure joy. The illustrations are beautiful and my little girl loved that they were songs that we could sing while we looked at the pictures. I also really like Hillenbrand's illustrations for the classic Mother Goose nursery rhymes.

3. Classics: Curious George & Go, Dog. Go!

If you haven't read Go, Dog, Go!, you should do so immediately. It is, in my opinion, one of the best children's books ever. It is sooooooooooo simple--but strangely brilliant. It is longish--but for some reason, kids don't care. I read the whole thing to 5 two and a half year olds the other day, and they sat, entranced, through the entire thing. I'm not sure why. And I got this Curious George treasury at a half-priced bookstore and my little girl requests stories from it almost on a daily basis. Both of these books are books that she has enjoyed from the start and is still enjoying at two and a half.

4. Polly Dunbar: Tilly and Friends books & Penguin
My sister, Delys, introduced me to the Tilly books and I haven't found any books since that are as delightful. Dunbar is probably my favorite children's book author & illustrator right now. She is so good at capturing childhood and putting it in picture and simple story form. After being delighted by the Tilly books, we fortuitously checked out another Dunbar book called Penguin from the library. Get it! It is the bomb shizzle of children's books. Love, love, love it!

5. Mouse's First series

The mouse series was another delightful library find. The first one we read was Mouse's First Day of School. My little girl loved it. Since then, we have read Mouse's First Spring (and Winter and Fall) and Mouse's First Valentine's Day (Christmas & Halloween). Our favorites were the school one and the Halloween one. I love the fat little mouse and it is fun to discover new seasons and holidays and experiences with him. The text is full of rhythmic sensory detail which I really like.

6. Ezra Jack Keats' The Snowy Day

Absolutely beautiful and timeless. I love it. My little girl loves it. There really isn't a way to describe this book. You just have to experience it.

7. Jack Kent's Little Peep 

This book was one of my husband's favorites as a kid. It is unfortunately out of print which makes it harder to come by. But if you can find it at a library or used bookseller, it is worth your time. The story and dialogue really win the day in this book about a rooster who thinks he makes the sun come up by crowing, and the little chick who accidentally disillusions him.

8. Spot's First Picnic

I never thought the Spot books were all that special--but my husband got this one to read to our little girl (because it was one of his favorite's as a child), and now it is one of her favorites. As in, she laughs out loud at parts of it.

9. Pete the Cat

Ahhh, Pete the Cat. What a guy. The illustrations are crazy and the smooth, sing-songy text is engaging. And this particular one teaches basic subtraction. What is not to like?

10. Mercer Mayer's Liza Lou

I have no idea whether Mercer Mayer has won any major book awards--but he should have. This guy's imagination and creativity is endless. He has got a lot of children's books worth reading out there, but my all-time favorite is Liza Lou and the Yeller Belly Swamp. Liza Lou is a sassy, smart heroine who very adeptly puts all the swamp monsters in their place. My little girl isn't a huge fan of this one yet, but one day, she will request it. 

Enjoy some new books!

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