Me and my kiddo

Me and my kiddo

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Book Gems

Heather I like your blog. I have read it a few times and it alway reinvigorates my passion for parenting my twins. If you ever have the chance I would be interested to get a list of children's books, movies, songs, etc. that you and your son both enjoy.

OK, here we go!  I've searched through the library and tried to put these in groupings of starting age.  Even the one's that start young are often great for older kids to enjoy reading themselves or understanding at higher levels.  Also, it's worth noting that my age estimates may be skewed high because my son read much earlier than typical.  Finally, I'm not recommending the particular version that I link to here because I wanted to include a picture for each book, so you might find a better deal browsing for a paperback or older edition.  

Toddler Fun:
The combination of rhyming and riddles and playful pictures make this one a pleasure to read.  The baby lama goes around asking different animals about their mamas until he finally asks another lama and they find their mamas together.  It has that highly valuable aspect of surviving many re-readings without getting irritating! Update, trying to find links since all these pictures have disappeared over the last seven years, go figure :) 

While those flaps are easy to rip, this book is a fun story of a kid who writes to the zoo to send him a pet.  He gets some unusual offerings, so this is another book which brings out lots of giggles.Update efforts

Rhymes and basic color education and a mystery all combine in this cute book.  It's particularly engaging for those kiddos building basic vocabulary. Guessing I meant this one.

This one doesn't age well, but for the one or two year old who is actually figuring out what is yummy and yucky (e.g. soup vs. soap), it seems to be a favorite.  It wasn't my favorite to read (so it's an ambivalent recommendation), but I haven't known a kid who didn't both like it and incorporate the idea into their understanding. Update efforts.

An absolutely adorable book about a mouse who loves a giraffe, the way he builds towards her is endearing.  The pages are also different sizes so you can see the tower grow.  It's a fun one :)  Updated link.

Boynton has many delightful works, but this one is particularly fun.  She excels at simple rhymes that focuses on basic areas like getting dressed or other routines.  I also love this other one as a birthday present, perhaps for a little older kid (although I've given it to grown ups before too since it's so fun). This is the birthday one, I don't remember which one I picked before.

Preschooler Play:
 I love both this one and Pancakes, Pancakes as offering Eric Carle's delightful illustrations along with his accessible stories.  This book is a fanciful story of the invention of the pretzel and the other involves the making of a breakfast pancake from threshing the wheat all the way through eating the final product.  I do find many of Eric Carle's more popular books highly valuable too (The Very Hungry Caterpillar The Very Busy Spider Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, but these two are less well known and just as delightful. I was talking about Walter the Baker.

It's fanciful and funny and just pure silly.  We did talk about the mom's response to the unexpected happenings, but this was mostly one for giggles and talking about what's real vs pretend. Update- researching

Great rhyming and a fun springboard to talk about both teasing and choosing your own path... Gerald the giraffe clearly learns to dance :) Updating this post

An uplifting story about finding the good with the help of warm family support.  The pictures are enchanting as the story between boy and grandfather unfolds above while a family of Beatrix-Potter-like mice are integrated in the illustrations below.  It's a warm color palate that offers lots of smiles and discussion of a different culture too (the poor, Jewish shtetl). UPDATE

This book makes the joy of the seasons so vivid through the cranky fox and the happy bear recollecting memories by the hearth.  It was a staple for years and we still read it in front of the fire. Updated. I still give it as a gift and love it!

This story speaks to respecting a child's choice about their body.  Dudley's family won't listen when he doesn't want to cuddle.  It's just OK as a fun story, but really valuable as a basis for that conversation about choice.  My son doesn't have to accept or give hugs and this book helped stimulate the conversation regarding expressing that preference constructively. Update.

This book is a sheer delight for taking you on a kid's journey of trying something new, failing, and learning.  It's wording and pictures make it a vividly real experience.  I would have liked a bit more to end the story, but this was one of my absolute favorites to share together while snuggled in a cozy blanket :) I'm guessing I meant this one.

Kindergarden and up:
This series is absolutely wonderful for showing how older people can still be young at heart and pursuing their own values.  There are so many of the stories that brought laughter and smiles... this is the series that made "jiffy"an everyday word around our house :)  Update

This is Ms. Rylant's other series that we have enjoyed.  This is just the first book, but I'd recommend scanning the titles for something that would capture your kid.  There are books on Christmas, family vacations, and more.  I recommend them as basic-fun for us, but they'd be a better fit for a family with animals since the key characters are a boy and his dog. Update

While my son loved this as a preschooler, I think it's a bit more advanced.  It is fanciful as Martha, a dog, can speak when she eats alphabet soup (which has both its positive and negative results).  The fun part is spurring conversation about choosing when to speak and when to keep thoughts to yourself. Update

This is one that can be enjoyed again and again because there are so many levels to relish.  The rhyme and pictures made it fun for my son as a toddler, but to really get how clever this poodle is takes an older kid.  It's definitely a good beginning to discussing the ineffective nature of using force too. Update

Bill Peet is so endearing!  His rhymes, his characters, and his illustrations all combine for a slew of unforgettable characters.  I would highly recommend going through his titles and jumping in for many delightful rides. I did find many treasures, but I'm guessing I was referring to this one.

I particularly like the boy in this book who is so independent and such a good advocate for  his friend.  There are the morals of interacting based on trade and overcoming adversity as well.  This is the first of these books that I need to read to my son (currently six years old) and discuss as we go along instead of afterwards. UPDATE-researching

There is no one like Anne for sheer spunk, brilliance, imagination, and joie de vivre!  I am thrilled that my son loves her as much as I do.  She is great for discussing both controlling emotions and acting on your own conclusions.  I cant tell you how many times a week we talk about her choices and the consequences as references for him when choosing actions. Update

It is highly individual, but my son has gravitated toward the detailed rules of this alternate, magical world.  I find the humor engaging, but my prime value is discussing the relationships which can be so instructive due to my son's social challenges.  I also love the lesson that our choices show who we truly are.  My son has found so many benefits from integrating that knowledge. Harry Potter

Whew, I'll get around to toys, movies and music eventually, but that was a big one and now... drum roll... for a surprise!  One of the joys of finding a book that your child loves is that you get to see them adhere to that value. One of the challenges of finding a book that your child loves is that they may wish to adhere to that value via one million parent readings.  So... while we still read them as well, recording some of the top favorites became a joyful experience for both my husband and me.  I am happy to present these recordings as a sample!  While they're not professional and I think copyright would require buying the books for repeated listening, you're welcome to use them or just get a feel for if you agree with my favorites choices!

Down the Road
Fluffy: Scourge of the Sea
Walter the Baker

(When the blog was brand new, this was my original book recommendation post which does have one kid book in it too.)

I'd love to hear about some of your favorite books too!  So many of our warm moments have revolved around snuggly chats with a book on the lap :)


  1. I love it!

    A few I'd never come across that I'll have to check out.

    I'll have to gather my girls favorites too at some point. Although one series right off the top of my head is the "Nate the Great" about a boy who works as a detective.


  2. Kevin: I loved that one too! I remember my dad had tears on his cheeks he was laughing so hard when he read it to us as kids :) I even purchased the whole series about a year ago. I tried it sharing it then and found the intricacies of the Mormon family along with the siblings' motivations totally baffled my kiddo. I bet he'd do much better now though. Thanks for the pointer!

  3. My absolute favorites are "The Wishing of Biddy Malone" by Joy Cowley, and "All the Places to Love" by Patricia MacLachlan. They are not really my daughter's favorites, though, because I cry every time I read them and she hates that so she never wants to read them. :) But they are both truly beautiful.

    Thanks for the list!

  4. Just a note that the pics/amazon links aren't coming through for me using Firefox 3.6.3. They're fine using Chrome, though.

  5. Amy: Thanks! I bought both of those when you recommended them on your blog :)

    Anonymous: I asked my husband, the computer guru, and he didn't know why that happened. The pictures didn't come through on my RSS feed, but everything seems fine on the website. Thanks for the heads up. Next time, I'll tinker with the other picture / link options to see if I can make something that spans platforms more easily.

  6. Thanks Rachel!
    I have ordered more than a few and I look forward to sharing them with my daughters! As 3 year olds it has been so much fun to see them advance (and hunger) for stories with plots and lessons. You have helped me immensily since I didn't know where to start (I don't remember any of the young child books from my youth that I still enjoy besides Winnie-the-Pooh and Toad and Frog). I look forward to you suggestions about songs and movies. Our current selection of movies is limited to Cailou and the Nutcracker Ballet! The options available seem so limited. I have a hard sitting through most Disney stuff although my daugters seem to love it.

  7. Heather: A pleasure :) I'm glad it's been useful and I hope you enjoy the purchases! I'm actually thinking the movies post has potential for next week unless I get otherwise inspired. We just finished reading the fourth Harry Potter book tonight (and watching the corresponding movie segment). Talk about dark... I think most young kids would find it freaky, but with the warning and discussion from the book beforehand, my son wasn't even ruffled.

  8. When sharing the movie post I received this list of book recommendations along with the permission to share it :)

    Sarah Biddle:

    My Pony, by Susan Jeffers (ISBN 0439729890) This is a beautifully illustrated story about a girl who passionately wants a horse of her own. The story has even more meaning when you read the author’s note.

    Big Builders, by Susan Korman (ISBN 1577193377) This is the only story I have ever read that takes a positive view of cutting down trees for human needs. Two brothers wake up to the sounds of tractors and bulldozers tearing down the woods near to their house. At first the boys are sad because they like to play there, but through a tour of the construction site they become fascinated with the demolition/building process. In the end they find that their favorite oak tree, which is left standing, will be the centerpiece of a playground that they will help to build with their new neighbors. (OOP)

    The Carrot Seed, by Ruth Krauss (ISBN 0060233508) A wonderful story about a boy who grows his own carrot from a seed, despite his family’s pronouncements that “It won’t come up.” Demonstrates cause-and-effect and first-handedness. Also available in a board book version.

    Mirette on the High Wire, by Emily Arnold McCully (ISBN 0698114434) Positively the BEST children’s picture book I have read to date! An inspiring tale of a little girl who watches a stranger walk a tightrope, and becomes enchanted with learning herself. Through much hard work and many falls, she persists until she convinces the stranger to become her mentor, and teach her this new fascinating skill. By the end of the book Mirette inspires her mentor to face and overcome his own fear. (There are at least two other “Mirette” books that I am aware of – 1-“Mirette and Bellini Cross Niagra Falls” – still a good story, but not the caliber of the original, and 2- “Starring Mirette and Bellini” – one I would not recommend – it introduces political concepts children of this age are unable to fully grasp.)

    Good Job, Oliver! by Laurel Molk (ISBN 0517709759) A great story of how the littlest rabbit uses reason to outwit would be scavengers and grow the best strawberries of the season. He says to himself when faced with a problem: “Think, Oliver, think!” (OOP)

    A Big Day for Little Jack, by Inga Moore (ISBN 1564024180) A great story about a young rabbit afraid to attend a birthday party alone. He soon overcomes his fear and discovers that he can make new friends and have fun on his own. (OOP)

    Six Dinner Sid, by Inga Moore (ISBN 0671796135) A wonderful tale of a cat who assumes six different personalities in order to trick his six different owners into six dinners. When Sid gets sick, he is taken to the vet—six times—and his deception is discovered. But all turns out well in the end when Sid finds six new owners who are aware of his ‘appetite.’

    Sadie and the Snowman, by Allen Morgan (ISBN 0590418262) This is a wonderful story about a girl who discovers how to save her snowman from melting with the coming of spring. It is beautifully written with enough repetition of certain phrases (sometimes with minor changes) as to be almost poetic – it’s just meant to be read aloud. The illustrations are crisp and bright. (OOP)

  9. [It needed two posts to get the 15 books and a 3rd for the poetry.]

    My Favorite Things, by Rodgers and Hammerstein, illustrated by Renee Graef (ISBN 0060287101) If you’re a fan of the song, you’ll love this book. Each line of song is beautifully illustrated, and the sheet music is included at the end. I think Darcy likes this one not only for the poetry and pictures, but also because I sing it to her.

    The Little Ballerina, by Katharine Ross (ISBN 0679849157) This is about a passionate little girl who takes ballet very seriously. In addition to being well written and nicely illustrated, the story introduces the reader to the basic dance positions as well as a number of technical ballet terms.

    Brave Irene, by William Steig (ISBN 0374409277) A very nice story about a girl who shows great tenacity and bravery when she persists through a snowstorm to deliver a package for her mother.

    Oh, the Places You Will Go – by Dr. Seuss (ISBN 0679805273) A great and encouraging book about the ups and downs (but mostly ups) of life.

    Hush Little Baby, by Sylvia Long (ISBN0811822907) A nicely illustrated board book that has updated words to the popular lullaby. It is Darcy’s favorite lullaby, she has it memorized and will correct me if I make any mistakes when I sing it to her.

    Sanji and the Baker, by Robin Tzannes and Korky Paul (ISBN 0192799606) While I don’t care for the illustrations in this book, it is a wonderful story of a baker who sues Sanji for stealing the smells from his bakery. The ingenious way the judge decides this case is marvelous. (OOP)

    Pumpkin Jack, by Will Hubbell (ISBN 0807566659) In the course of one year, a jack-o-lantern, discarded after Halloween, decomposes in the backyard and eventually grows new pumpkins from its seeds. It is much more touching than it sounds and is beautifully illustrated by the author.

  10. [It needed two posts to get the 15 books and a 3rd for the poetry.]

    Mary Anne, by Mary Mapes Dodge (ISBN 0688020879) This is a single poem written ~1895 about a girl who receives a bare doll for Christmas and then works diligently to make her fine clothes. It is much shorter than the other books, but is charming and beautifully illustrated. (OOP)

    On a Wintry Morning, by Dori Chaconas (ISBN 0670892459) This is another single poem about a father taking his baby daughter out to play and explore “on a wintry morning.” The poem is sweet and touching, and the illustrations are the best of any book we have. This book is a must have for any father with a baby girl.

    Good Morning Sweetie Pie, by Cynthia Rylant (ISBN 0689823770) A collection of poems about babies and toddlers by the same author. Beautiful illustrations.

    A Child’s Garden of Verses, by Robert Louis Stevenson (Compiled by Cooper Edens ISBN 0877016089) There are *many* editions of this classic by different artists, but this one has the nicest collection of illustrations by various artists ranging from 1896 to 1940. Given the dates, you can imagine why the art is better than the contemporary versions.

    Eloise Wilkin’s Poems to Read to the Very Young, selected by Josette Frank (ISBN 0375804757) A wonderful collection of poems with charming, old fashioned illustrations. It is available in a board book version that’s great for babies.

    Ride a Purple Pelican, by Jack Prelutsky (ISBN 0688156258) A very humorous and silly collection of poems that Darcy loves. This author has many other collections that I have not really evaluated yet, mostly because the poems are much longer than the relatively short ones in this book.

    any Flower Fairies poem books by Cicely Mary Barker, there are many of these poetry books with each flower fairy so beautifully illustrated. I’ve loved these books since I was a girl. She is my all-time favorite artist. She has also written two wonderful storybooks for older children, The Lord of the Rushie River and Simon the Swan, but I can’t find an ISBN.

    ABCs of Halloween, by Patricia Reeder Eubank (ISBN 9780824954673) Darcy and I LOVE this ABC book (even at 6.5 years old) The illustrations are so beautiful, warm and detailed, Darcy loves to notice new things in them every time we get the book out. The wording is a clever poem and there is even a recipe for alphabet soup cooked in a pumpkin shell that was pretty good. We like this one so much we keep it out all year round.

    (OOP = Out of Print)

  11. We recieved "Fluffy" last week and I have read it at least once a day. The girls (3yo twins) love pictures and although they don't understand the story they seem to be entertained by the rhyme. We also have enjoyed Martha Speaks and Cuddly Duddly.
    I wanted to mention a book we have enjoyed, Benje by Elizabeth Rice (OOP). It is a short story with realistic drawings. The story follows a squirrel who looses his tail (it doesn't go into the details) and becomes discouraged. Through a series of trial and error, and discussion with friends he eventually discovers he doesn't need a tail to be happy. It is a great story to discuss making the best of what you have and not to limit yourself.

  12. Heather: Thanks for the recommendation :) Benje arrived and my son read it through with great delight!