Sunday, April 1, 2007

LIST: Favorite Young Children's Books

The books you start reading to your young children are some of the best books in the world. They have to be visually appealing, and not just tasty boardbook but that does seem to have an appeal for some, melodic, with rhythms and poetic patterns that rival the best poetry. These books below have been read to all three of our children, and the last little one is just four last week, and getting near the end of some of these books. She was actually trying to read Go, Dog. Go! today, by looking for words she recognizes - go, one, three, red, up. My dear!
These would be my favorite books to read to my young kids, night after night after repetitive night; the ones I could read even without having the book in my hand. Sadly, after three children, some of these books are showing their love. Short books are usually my favourite, but these are the quality ones:

1. Owl Babies by Martin Waddell
I made the mistake of reading this to my first born the morning I went back to work for the fist time. Mascara disaster. Three baby owls wake up and find their mother not home. They worry, and fret, and when she comes "soft and silent, she swoops through the trees" back to their home, she admonishes them " You knew I'd come back", I nearly lose it every time. It also has some fun repetitive phrases for the children, and identifiable babies. I give this book as baby presents too.

2. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
I knew this was considered a classic, but we had never read it when I was a child. I bought it for the first one, and we have loved it. All three have enjoyed it and even the very old illustrations, quiet and charming, keep their attention. Such a calm quiet way to get the little one ready for sleep.

3. The Monster at the End of the Book by Sesame Street
I do remember this one from my childhood, and Grover was always my favourite muppet, after Bert of course. Poor Bert. I found this for 1.99 somewhere, and all three again have enjoyed being so strong, turning the page, getting to the end of the book. Imagining what will happen is always worse than the actual thing. A great lesson for silly, lovable old Grover.

4. Will's Mammoth by Rafe Martin and Stephen Gammell
I think part of the appeal of this book was that I found it just after I finished reading the Clan of the Cave Bear books, and all the illustrations would have fit into those stories. This book is nearly all illustrations, and part of what I liked about it. I could make up a new story each night. Will loves mammoths and he has one in his backyard that he rides around the prehistoric neighbourhood. Delightful watercolours tell the story themselves. Count the mammoths in Will's room!

5. Go Dog, Go! by P.D. Eastman ( a Dr Seuss book)
There are so many wonderful Dr Seuss books and the rhymes in this one take the cake. "Do you like my hat?"

6. Hand, Hand Fingers Thumb by Al Perkins (a Dr Seuss book)
This little board book has the best rhythms. It builds and builds, and who doesn't love monkeys. My little monkeys certainly did.

7. little, big!
The third child got this for her first Christmas and we all loved reading this. Big car, (turn page) little car; all spoken with corresponding volume. She loved this book so much and would throw it at people to get them to read it to her.

8. Peepo! by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
This wonderful little British board book was set in the, hmm, forties? They give baths in a wash tub beside the fire, carry in coal for the stove, and then each page has a hole cut out, to show a little bit of the next page. What does baby see? Peepo! The baby follows his day from morning to nighttime. Delightful rhymes.

9. Mabel Murple by Sheree Fitch
I love Sheree Fitch and especially some of her older books: Monkeys in the Kitchen, Sleeping Dragons, and the poem collection Toes in my Nose, reminiscent of Dennis Lee, the wonderful Canadian poet as is Fitch. This poem grew out of a Toes in my Nose selection. We all recite Mabel Murple when we drive by the purple house because:

Mabel Murple's house was purple,
So was Mabel's hair
Mabel Murple's dog was purple
A purple poodle named Pierre

I'm probably paraphrasing, but the poem has evolved in our car.

10. Red is Best by Kathy Stinson
This book had such an effect, I completely brainwashed the second child. She believed in all her heart that red was best.
What do you want for Christmas? asks me. My two year old child says: a red chair.
What kind of chair? Red. What kind of birthday cake do you want? red. And it went on and on.
Daughter had everything red for several years.
And this is a wonderful book to help parents realize why a child might need the red cup - juice tastes better or why the too small red shoes - she jumps higher. The illustrations capture the pudgy little legs and hands. And why is red best? Because red is best.

Oh, the memeories that writing this brought back. And I'm sure I missed a few favorite books, but each of these went through a phase and truly stood the test of time. I left out all the licensed characters: Blue's Clues books, Maisy, Franklin, and tons and tons of number books and alphabet books (the Dr Seuess ABC book is the best in my opinion. "Many mummbling mice...") I'm sure I could have kept going for another ten.

So, what memories have been dredged up? What books have you already bought for children possibly yet to come? What were your favourite children's books?


  1. Owl Babies! Favorite! Had never seen it before buying it for my first-born, and fell in love with it. It was a favorite of both kids (now 11 & 14), and is in storage somewhere with other special books like:

    1. Go Dog Go: "I like that party hat!"
    2. One Fish Two Fish: "Look what we found in the park, in the dark. We will take him home, we will call him Clark."
    3. Curious George: "George was a good monkey, but always very curious." My eldest has had a Curious George puppet since she was 6mos. ... still sleeps with it!

    Thanks for the memories

  2. I Love you Forever - Robert Munsch. Classic mom-child bonding book. Suitable to give to adults and adult children!


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