When I started this blog, I had a 1 -year-old who was just beginning to enjoy picture books. At that time, my favorite picture books were gleaned from books we’d been given, books I remembered enjoying as a child, and books that were popular enough to catch my attention. A lot has changed in the last couple years.
Now I have a 3-year-old and 1-year-old twins. I’ve been scouring other reading blogs, contest lists, publishing house lists, and children’s writer websites to find the best books to read my kids. Every week we leave the library with (and I’m not exaggerating) 30+ picture books. About half of them are ones I’ve read about and am interested in reading and sharing with my girls. The other half are ones my eldest picks up (usually Arthur, Clifford, Little Bear, and an assortment of others that she remembers enjoying or that have covers that catch her eye).
So here is a list of my of new favorite picture books. I hemmed and hawed and cut it down to 20. (And I made it easier on myself by not including ones that are already on my (old) favorites list, which I’ll be updating soon.) They are SO good. Many are new picture books, written in the last several years.
- hello! hello!, Matthew Cordell
- Interrupting Chicken, David Ezra Stein
- The Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson
- The Curious Garden, Peter Brown
- Flotsam, David Weisner
- Mostly Monsterly, Tammi Sauer
- Boy + Bot, Ame Dyckman
- Cock-a-Doodle-Moo, Bernard Most
- Stuck, Oliver Jeffers
- The Way Back Home, Oliver Jeffers
- Rhyming Dust Bunnies, Jan Thomas
- It’s a Book!, Lane Smith
- Grandpa Green, Lane Smith
- The Paper Bag Princess, Robert Munsch
- Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type, Doreen Cronin
- Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs, Ian Whybrow
- Harry and the Dinosaurs Say Raahh!, Ian Whybrow
- I Want My Hat Back, Jon Klassen
- Extra Yarn, Mac Barnett
- I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato, Lauren Child
So please make a list and check these out at your local library. Then pop some popcorn after dinner and snuggle up on the couch for better-than-even-a-good-movie time. And then let me know what you think.
And while I’m on the subject of favorites … I was recently looking at an old post – 10 Great Children’s Authors – and find I need to make some additions there, too. Those are all great authors, but there are so many amazing new authors as well. You’re missing out if you haven’t discovered …
- David Weisner
- Oliver Jeffers
- Tammi Sauer
- David Ezra Stein
- Ame Dyckman
- Lane Smith
… just to name a few.
So let this be a reminder to all the parents like me. The books you enjoyed as a kid will likely delight your child too. And the books you and your child happen to grab off the library shelves are wonderful (I hope). But don’t neglect to search out new and exciting picture books in the ever-changing realm of children’s publishing. Discovering great books is worth your time because they are what shape your children’s view of literature and what a great experience reading can be.
I don’t often write a post solely about another blogger’s post, but today that’s what I’m doing. This lovely and amazing post is on author Julie Hedlund’s blog, and includes a great deal of writing and video by author Kathleen Pelley.
Pelley writes about storytelling and the great importance of being a good storyteller when you read books to your child. According to Pelley, a great read aloud includes:
- rich, lively, and fresh language
- rhythm and cadence
- space (by which she means pauses in the story)
- emotional/universal truth
Her post is sprinkled with great quotes, and she even includes a list of her favorite read alouds! And don’t miss listening to her read aloud with her Scottish accent.
So whether you’re a parent or teacher or just someone to read to kids every once in a while, it’s well worth your while to take her suggestions to heart and nourish your storytelling roots, by
About a year ago, No Time For Flashcards posted a list – a book list, my favorite! – titled 75 Books That Build Character. These kinds of lists are everywhere, from Amazon.com to countless individual blogs (like this one), but I think this is a better-than-average list, and a good reminder that books have powerful messages. Our kids and students spend hundreds of hours reading, and, during each of those moments, whether we see clear evidence of it or not, they’re learning about how the world works and what kind of people they ought to be in the midst of it.
Here are several favorites from the 75 Books That Build Character list:
Note: For even more book suggestions, browse the comments section of the post, which includes everything from a heated discussion about the merits of Dr. Seuss, Rainbow Fish, and The Giving Tree to additional character-building books such as Ladybug Girl, Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon, and A Bad Case of Stripes.
I recently stumbled on a website that I love and wanted to share with you. A Mighty Girl is billed as “the world’s largest collection of books, toys, and movies for smart, confident, and courageous girls.” I haven’t explored the toy and movie sections much, but I really like the book section. The site is very well-organized, and includes predictable sections such as picture books, classics, graphic novels, humor, realistic fiction, fantasy, multicultural fiction, etc. But it also includes suggestions for read alouds, environmental books, gardening books, social justice issues, and personal development.
One page I especially appreciated was The Ultimate Guide to Independent Princesses, which included books such as The Paper Bag Princess, Don’t Kiss the Frog, Young Guinevere, The Princess Knight, and The Tough Princess. My 3-year-old is already well on her way to developing a fascination with princesses. In our culture, it’s quite impossible to escape the cultural paradigm that little girls should aspire to be like the Disney princesses they see around them (in books, on clothes, on toys, at the mall, on TV, etc.). I hope to balance that cultural message with texts like those above.
A Mighty Girl also includes information about starting a Mighty Girl book club.
Any other mighty girl book suggestions?
I’ve missed a few Fridays (just a few!), so I thought I’d post a quick list of some of my recent favorites. These are all picture books, which incorporate about 90% of the reading I do these days. Such is life with a 3-year-old and 1-year-old twins.
hello! hello! by Matthew Cordell
Blue Chicken by Deborah Freedman
Crafty Chloe by Kelly DiPucchio
Grandpa Green by Lane Smith
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein
Pouch! by David Ezra Stein
I know my recent posts have been fairly focused on the younger reading crowd. I promise I’ll get back to writing about older readers as well. It’s just that raising a 3-year-old fills my brain with picture books and early literacy ideas, only a small portion of which are popping up here. So, continuing that streak, here are three new favorites:
Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs, but Ian Whybrow. This is such a lovely tale of a boy and a box of dinosaurs that he finds in the attic. Like most good picture books, there are important story details that only appear in the illustrations, so little eyes and brains are constantly making meaning from both the pictures and the words. And the ending is perfect; even the dinosaurs have a say.
The Bee Tree, by Patricia Polacco. This is a rollicking tale of continuously growing group of Jewish neighbors who chase a bee through the countryside to its home where they are sure to find the sweetest honey in all the land. With all the unusual names and places, it’s a joy to read aloud. And the lesson at the end is one my daughter wanted to repeat (and we did), but you’ll have to read it to find out what is learned from the chase. (I also wrote about two of Polacco’s other books, here and here, as well as included her in my list of 10 great children’s authors.)
The Dot, by Peter Reynolds. This is sweet story about a girl who lacks confidence in her art skills until her art teacher points out that even dots can be art. With encouragement from her teacher and practice, practice, practice, she finally puts on her first show, where she meets another child who lacks confidence in his art skills, and pays the lesson forward.
If you aren’t familiar with Mem Fox’s website, you should be. She’s a delightful writer of many lovely picture books, and (this I had not known) a rather funny essayist.
In her essay, “If I were Queen of the World,” she writes about her belief that children should be taught to read before they go to school. “We have the great advantage of having fewer children in our families than teachers have in their classes and are therefore able to have valuable one-to-one fun with our offspring, through the medium of books,” she writes. “Having fun with books, which means absolutely loving books and all they have to offer, is an essential pre-requisite to learning to read.” And, I think, reading to learn. I truly think that if every parent and teacher understood the importance of loving to read and acted upon that belief, we would solve much of the illiteracy in America. I know that’s a strong statement, but I stand by it. There is such a strong correlation between reading enjoyment and reading success, and also reading success and academic success. If a student likes to read, he or she is likely a good student. The opposite is, unfortunately, equally true.
Lest you worry that Fox is recommending that parents sit down with their children and an approved curriculum for 1-2 hours a day and “teach” them to read, fear not. What she’s advocating for is a whole lot easier and much more commonsensical. I was going to summarize it here, but I decided against it because I want you to go read her words.