favorite picture books

There are so many parenting decisions that I second guess. Potty training. Time outs. How to get my kid to eat the food that I make. (And the list goes on and on.)  So many decisions I know I haven’t done as well as I should.

One decision that I don’t question is to read to my kids. We’ve been reading to Alex nightly since he was a month old. By the time he was crawling, he’d be crawling to his bookshelf, pulling out books, and turning the pages to read to himself.  I’m not saying you need to read to a one month old baby.  Seriously, that was probably a bit much.  And now that we have two, it’s been a bit harder to figure out how to read to both of them.  Do we attempt it at the same time?  How do we all fit with both of them on our lap trying to awkwardly hold the book?  If anybody has good two-kid bedtime reading rituals, please share!  But I do think reading to kids from an early age is a great way to help them to enjoy reading.

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Reading to little ones has become the favorite part of our nighttime ritual.  Here’s my list of a baker’s dozen of our favorite picture books.  Please pardon me that I haven’t included the more familiar classics. We love those too, but I wanted to share some that you may not be familiar with.

1. Hug Time by Patrick McDonnell.
A sweet little story about a kitten that wants to hug the whole world, ending with a message of connectedness.

2. Hunches in Bunches by Dr. Seuss
While most anything by Dr. Seuss is technically a classic, this is a slightly more obscure one. It’s one of my favorites from my childhood and it’s fun to read.

3. Nobunny’s Perfect by Anna Dewdney
This a nice one for the toddler years, when you’re trying to discourage certain behaviors and encourage others. It rhymes and the pictures are nice. Her Llama Llama books are also staples in our house.

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4. Hush Little Polar Bear by Jeff Mack
This is a sweet bed-time read.

5. Pete the Cat: I Love my White Shoes created and illustrated by James Dean, story by Eric Litwin
This story is toddler genius. It engages kids, yet is also an enjoyable read for adults. The overall message though is perfect. It’s sort of a “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” for the toddler set, but in a groovy way.

6. The Very Cranky Bear by Nick Bland
I first found this one on a list of toddler books on a blog that I can’t remember. Its out of print in the US, but copies can be found on Amazon. Another rhyming book. Funny and charming.

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7. Boy with a Drum by David Harrison
This book has been read so many times in the past two years that I can recite it in my sleep. Actually, I’m pretty sure Alex could also recite it in his sleep. It’s an old book, but it’s absolutely worth tracking down and purchasing. “There once was a boy with a little toy drum. Rat a tat, tat a tat, rum a tum tum.” The boy marches along with his drum as various animals join in. It’s rhythmic and soothing.

8. Art by Patrick McDonnell
Patrick McDonnell is most well known for his comic strips, but he’s an amazing children’s book author. This is also another book that I can probably recite.

9. All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon
This book is sweet. Also about how we’re all connected. Slight hippy vibe, but in a good way.

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10.National Geographic Animal Encyclopedia
The purchase of this book came about because Alex showed a strong interest in animals pretty early on. He was able to name different species of sharks and birds well before he was two. The suggestion of this book isn’t that all little kids should have this particular book. This one is quite nice though. It’s just to suggest that sometimes it’s a good idea to get something beyond what your child is capable of mastering. It helps when it’s something that they find highly interesting. I must say that it’s pretty tedious for me to go through this book anymore and have Alex name the animals, but he enjoys it. He learns so much and he’s still engaged. That’s a worthwhile thing.

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11. Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry
Another rhyming book. Just a sweet read with a nice message about friendship and kindness.

12. I’m a Big Brother (or I’m a Big Sister) by Joanna Cole
This is my first choice book on preparing a first-born child for the arrival of a sibling. It helps the older child to know what to expect of the baby and how to cope with their new role. I highly anticipated that Alex would experience major jealousy when his little sister was born, but surprisingly that didn’t happen. He’s embraced his big brother role. I’m giving this book the credit.

13. Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler
I love this book. Certain lines just make me laugh. Not just for Halloween / fall. The message about loyalty and friendship makes for a good read for any time of the year.

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