Now that I am a proud holder of a Master of Science in Library Education degree, I should be an expert on all things children’s literature. Unfortunately, I know a whole lot about the Dewey Decimal System and not a lot about specific titles. My go-to books are ones I loved when I was a kid and books we happen to discover at a bookstore or library.
Before kids, trips to the library were relaxing and meditative. I took my time browsing my favorite sections and finding new and interesting books to read. Sometimes I even sat in the quiet and read the book I settled on. Now, I sprint after my three-year-old (who is making a beeline to the toys and puzzles) with my infant strapped to my chest and a giant reusable tote bag slung over my shoulder. I grab any picture books that look mildly interesting from the tops of the shelves (thank you, librarians, for keeping that area well stocked) and I throw them into the bag. We accumulate one or two (or ten) more during L’s playtime when she finds Daniel Tiger board books from the kid-level toddler bin and pulls hardcover picture books from the nearest shelf (this shelf is the juvenile non-fiction mythology section – we’ve read a book about the origins of the Loch Ness Monster 25 times since we last visited the library).
Lately, whenever I want to check out a specific book, I put them on hold. Our library even has a drive through, so I don’t have to get out of the car with my children. It’s a total game-changer.
Here are a few gems we’ve found:
Pete the Cat
There are TONS of Pete books out there – a few are awesome, but not all of them are great. Our favorites are Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons and I Love My White Shoes. Both are repetitive and catchy, educational (teach basic addition and colors, respectively), and so much fun. L memorized them both, and she loves to “read” them to her grandparents while we video chat. These are the books L loves to read and I don’t mind going back to over and over.
Henry and Mudge
These are oldies but goodies. They are short beginner’s chapter books (definitely quick enough to read all at once). The extensive series follows the many adventures of Henry and his huge, lovable dog, Mudge.
Anything written or illustrated by Jon Klassen
We like We Found a Hat, Triangle, and, most recently, The Dark (written by Lemony Snicket). These are all simple stories with a much deeper meaning and amazing illustrations.
Board books by Sandra Boynton
Sandra Boynton is perfect for younger kids. We still read these occasionally with L, but they are probably best for ages 0-2. They are silly and sweet with cute illustrations. Our favorites are Moo, Baa, La La La, Snuggle Puppy, and Oh My, Oh My, Oh Dinosaurs!
I used this book in my classroom to teach phonics and phonemic awareness. I kept it in my box of reading materials and recently dug it out. I don’t explicitly teach the same skills to L, but I know she’s starting to get a foundation for reading by listening to these poems over and over. And, they’re awesome! The illustrations are engaging and the poetry is silly, enchanting and catchy.
Don’t Wake the Tiger
My father-in-law (a commercial pilot) brought this book back from a trip to London. Whenever we read it, there are SO MANY GIGGLES. It’s very basic, so it’s great for young babies and toddlers as well as preschoolers. And, it’s a super quick read when bedtime is starting to go on and on.
Elephant and Piggie Books
Mo Willems is wonderful. We love anything he’s written, especially books about Elephant and Piggie and Pigeon (while we adore Pigeon, he can sometimes be a little argumentative and disrespectful – we’ve had to take a break from these books because a certain 3-year-old was mimicking what we read). Elephant and Piggie are always silly and fun; our favorite is I am Invited to a Party!
I hope that the next time you’re at the library, you’ll check some of these out!