We added SO many goodies in year 3. Enjoy!
Richard Scarry’s Best Storybook Ever! has a special place in my heart. While I try to go for books that have a real story to them-a message about life- Richard Scarry‘s books are more about learning by memorization. The illustrations are adorable, they essentially taught our son the words for different foods from A to Z. He would bring the book to me every night and recite the words that matched the illustrations. When he’d forget one, he’d look up at me with his great big eyes and wait for the answer-ack-delish.
The Carrot Seed by Crockett Johnson was a gift from our nephew. He says the book taught him about self-confidence. I could see how it would since it’s a story about how everyone doubted the growth of his carrot, but he stuck with it and persevered.
Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown just has great illustrations of farm animals. Our son was a late talker, so to have these adorable pictures to look at over and over helped him to cement the words into his brain. Plus, it is a lot of fun for him to find the butterfly on each page.
The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell (the author of Wag) is essentially a Christmas book, but imparts a lovely message any time of the year. When the little kitty in the story has a hard time finding a gift for his best friend, he hunts down the gift of nothing, which turns out to be everything.
Mr Brown Can Moo! Can You? by Dr. Seuss is the best. It just really doesn’t get any better, but you have to be game. If you really let yourself get into this book you might find yourself exhausted and your little one really revved up. It’s never a great idea for us to read it just before bed. In fact, I really hope no one else has ever heard us read it out loud-we get a little weird.
The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper is a classic for a reason. A train and its passengers in need come across some snooty trains who won’t help them (aw), but they hang in there until a very affable and good mannered train uses all her strength to help out. She thinks she can and then she does. Like the Carrot Seed, it’s a nice introduction to what can be accomplished if you believe in yourself.
We love Harold & the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson because it takes so much imagination. Everything is so easy for kids these days, so many electronic options with all the bells and whistles. It’s lovely to watch your little one’s mind light up at the idea of a purple crayon that can make so much happen.
I have to confess Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman always scared me. It STILL scares me, but I guess life can be scary sometimes, so why not get used to it at an early age? I always enjoyed the book when the little bird asked the cow or cat or dog if he was his mama. When he got to the scary rusted out car and noisy construction equipment, the whole thing got so dystopian. In the end, our son thinks it’s hilarious a bird would think an airplane was his Mama, so there you go.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter has finally happened in our house. This is one of my favorite books on the planet. It’s also a little scary, what with Mr. MacGregor making Peter’s father into a pie, but I guess that’s the lesson. Our son understands and gets a little kick out of Peter when he’s naughty, but it is not lost on him that Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail get the berries and cream for supper because they were good little bunnies.
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf is a classic introduction to the idea, ‘it’s ok to be different.’ Maybe you’re a bull who is supposed to be tough and strong and wants to fight, but what if you don’t? What if you want to quietly eat grass and read your book? Ferdinand will help your little one begin to understand that it’s ok-we can all play to our own strengths.
Our son’s Godmother passed down this Olivia book to us by Ian Falconer. I wouldn’t have picked it up otherwise. She’s a little girl pig after all, but just like Madeleine, Olivia has some very important, universal attributes. She’s a kid, sometimes stubborn, sometimes dramatic, but always an individual. To me, there is nothing more important than to teach your child how to be an individual. Plus it cracks me up when she tries to make a Jackson Pollock painting in her bedroom, and has to have a time out.
More Olivia-I have to say Olivia and the Missing Toy by Ian Falconer is by far our son’s favorite book. Somewhere along the way Olivia’s VERY BEST TOY goes amiss. Her search for it takes us down the path to a scary surprise and a very important lesson in forgiveness.
Olivia Forms a Band by Ian Falconer is also terrific. In this story Olivia decides to become a one man band much to the displeasure of her family but to the absolute joy of a toddler. I also warn about this book just before bedtime as there are lots of loud instrument noises to shout out.
Press Here by Herve Tullet is so cool. It’s an interactive book not on your iPad. Of course there is an iPad version, but we find the ole’ hardback to be much more entertaining. Similar to Harold and the Purple Crayon, this book gets your child’s imagination going-so much so, in fact we also label it as questionable ‘just before bed material.’
Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! by Mo Willems exercises the same principles used in not allowing the Pigeon to Drive the Bus. There are great opportunities to be silly in this book with fake yawns and snoring noises. Mo Willems books are like a party, but it’s up to you how raucus you want the party to get.
Knuffle Bunny Too by Mo Willems is a case of mistaken identity and a discovery of friendship. The book is charming for children and hilarious for adults.
Pigs Make Me Sneeze! by Mo Willems cracks us up. Who knew Elephant was so dramatic? He’s convinced he’s allergic to his best friend. Is he?
Lyle, Lyle Crocodile by Bernard Waber is a classic. He’s a crocodile who just happens to live in the bathtub of a townhouse on the Upper East Side of NYC. ??? This particular storybook treasury is a tad advanced for a two year old. He enjoys the three long and interesting crocodile stories, but what he’s really into at this age is the last story about Lyle taking ten dogs for a walk. It’s a counting primer that suits a toddler’s fancy.
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey is a also a classic and sometimes, I’m not sure why. A baby bear and a baby human mix up their mamas. It all works out in the end, but it’s a little scary. The lovely illustrations by the same illustrator as Make Way for Ducklings do make the book indelible.
Corduroy by Don Freeman is about a little bear who wants a home, but is missing a button on his overalls. Some would consider this a defect, but is it really? Maybe not.
A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson is the best book on the planet ever in the history of all time. I hunted down the version from Golden Books my mother read to me as a little girl. It’s out of print, but Amazon has its ways. The illustrations in this version are really only important to me as I remember them like the back of my hand from my own childhood. The poems themselves have just as much impact if they are scribbled on a piece of paper. This is a collection of poems every child should be exposed to as they tap into what makes childhood so magical.
Of course we found this version of Les Miserables in the cutest toy store in Vancouver, so we had to get it. We’re partial to the BabyLit Board Book series, but these Cozy Classics are very well done. They are for readers of all ages as the soft visuals can stimulate a six-month-old and the clever way they tell the story will make a seasoned reader of literature smile.
This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen is a terrifying tale of what can happen when you take things which do not belong to you and then- to make matters worse-try to engage someone else in an orchestratedcover-upp. If only Chris Christie had been given a copy of this when he was a child.
Henri’s Walk to Paris by Leonore Klein and illustrated by Saul Bass is a lovely story about a boy who dreams of Paris. Our son’s God Family gave it to him when we left to go on tour with Les Miz. This is the first and only children’s book illustrated by Saul Bass who is considered the greatest graphic designer of all time. (!!!) Apparently, back in the day, it was a sought after, out of print collector’s item and was only reissued in 2012. Of course I learned all of this from the gorgeous cultural website BrainPickings, which is where I seem to learn most everything nowadays.
Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag is really weird and kind of scary, but we love it. A man goes out and finds a million cats, but his wife only wants one, for obvious reasons. A moral lies in how they solve this problem.
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss. There’s nothing to say about this book, it’s perfect. I’m sorry you can’t hear my husband read it out loud in various shades of Tony Robert’s voices.
The Prince’s Bedtime by Joanne Oppenheim is so stinking cute. They try everything to get the Prince to fall asleep, but only one thing does the trick.
Sandra Boynton. Her books are just little parties. Let’s Dance, Little Pookie gets the little ones up and about-if that’s what you’re after (from Dudley and Michelle).
And here she is again with Happy Hippo, Angry Duck, a book about feelings. It’s a perfect book when kids are just on the cusp of putting their feelings into words. It’s so helpful for them to identify uncomfortable feelings as a part of life.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Dayby Judith Viorst and Ray Cruz is a classic. His day is so bad, he contemplates a move to Australia. Poor Alexander. I had a bad day just like his last week, and I’m already in Australia.
This is Australia by M. Sasek. We found this book in Boston six months before we moved down under. We went back to our hotel room in Worcester, Mass for a chilly week of the Les Mis tour and began to learn about where we were headed. Now that we’ve been here six months, it’s even more fun to look at.