Take It Smiling

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Children's Books -- MUST HAVES

I have three children. My eldest is a 7 year old boy, my middle a 4 ½ year old girl and my youngest child, a boy, is 13 months old. Of course, three children means we have three times the norm of many, many things: food, laundry, doctor’s visits, TOYS.

So, as we approached my youngest child’s first birthday, I thought long and hard about what to give him. Friends asked, “What does he need? What doesn’t he have?” Do you know I couldn’t answer? Sure, our doctor kit is now approximately five years old and missing a few pieces, but do we need a new one? No. Sure, my son already enjoys pushing around cars and trucks but since he’s got so many left from my eldest, does he need new ones? No. How about clothes? Nope, have them left over from my eldest as well as many friends. Hmmm…

Then, it hit me. Can you ever have too many books? No way. I don’t know about you, but I read 2 – 3 books per night, per child so that’s a lot of reading. Translation: that’s a lot of repetition. We’ve been reading the same bookcase-worth of books for seven years now. Ouch. (It actually is painful sometimes.) With this is mind, I decided to have a book-themed party where everyone could give the birthday boy a copy of their favorite book. This worked beautifully for our guest list as the vast majority of kids invited were the friends of my other two. They’d been read to all their lives so I figured they had to have favorites. I was so right and, as I gazed at the very manageable stack of new books after the party, I was at peace. Gone was the usual post-party angst regarding where we’d put all the new stuff. Where would all those tiny pieces go so they didn’t get lost? How long would it take my fingers to heal after untwisting all those wires to free all this stuff? Instead, it was “Ahhhhh. Look at that lovely pile of books for us to read.”

But I’m not the only one with a lack-luster library. Why not consider rejuvenating your friends’ libraries this year too? They will thank you for not giving their child another thing to collect dust once the thrill wears off (ever notice how the thrill doesn’t wear off of books for kids?). To get you started, here are my absolute favorites, appropriate for children birth through third grade (at least):

On The Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier
This gorgeous tale describes the wondrous happenings across the planet as your child was born. I’ve made sure each of my children have their own copy so that they will always know how very connected they are to our environment.

I Hate Everyone by Mij Kelly
A selfish Queen Bee learns to be polite in this clever story. The typography lends to the excitement; as the Queen yells louder, so do the words on the page! The richly colored images are sure to in trance your child as they learn that being nice is the best way to be.

The Napping House by Audrey Wood
Can you spot the little flea in each picture? Did you notice each animal moves just a bit on each page? Your child will enjoy predicting what’s next by looking at the pictures in this fun book. The day may start sleepy but it sure ends up bright!

My Very Own Name Personalized Storybook
Animals gather round as a new baby joins the wood. To decide the baby’s name, each animal offers a letter. “D” might come from a donkey or a deer, for example. Based on the information you provide upon ordering, the animals spell out your special child’s name. The birthdate of this woodland baby matches that of your child as well. I’ve purchased this book for all of my children. When they were younger, they loved hearing their names as part of the story. As they grew, they began identifying the letters presented my each animal. The illustrations are gorgeous as well.

How Do I Love You? By P.K. Hallinan
This fun rhyme describes all the lovable things about your child (“I love it when you’re happy and I’m sorry when you’re sad. And even though it may not show, I love you when you’re bad.”). It’s a wonderful way to reaffirm a parent’s love for their child, no matter what their behavior. The drawings are vividly colored and lots of fun!

This author/illustrator has an entire series of love-affirming books worth checking out.

Bear Feels Sick by Karma Wilson
If you’ve never read any of the Bear books, you are in for a treat! In this episode, beautifully illustrated rhythmic poetry tells of Bear’s friends caring for him when he is sick. Each animal does something special for Bear and, in the end, Bear cares for them when they become sick.

Also look for Bear Wants More (featuring American Sign Language for “more,” Bear Snores On, Bear’s New Friend, Bear Stay’s Up (a Christmas story) and Bear Feels Scared.

Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry & the Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood
This quick board book is such fun to read. Your child will love how they, as the reader, speak directly to the mouse about his juicy, red, ripe strawberry and the very big hungry bear who loves to eat them!

Go Track a Yak! By Tony Johnston
Go on a silly journey to save the little baby who won’t eat. Thanks to outstanding typography, you’ll find yourself in character as a dim-witted dad and cranky witch. My children have enjoyed the story on many levels over the years; different parts make them laugh as they get older.

Sixteen Cows by Lisa Wheeler
Join Cowboy Gene and Cowgirl Sue as they each call their eight cows in for the night. But, when a storm blows down the fence, the herds mix and mayhem ensues. Through witty rhymes, we find Cowboy Gene and Cowgirl Sue in love and the herd size doubled!

The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman
Do you deal with any picky eaters? Can you imagine SEVEN of them? This rhyming tale will entertain you and your picky eater as you watch one mother become exhausted by her seven silly eaters… and then watch their favorite foods magically combine to make one delicious birthday cake for Mom!

Old Turtle by Douglas Wood
This fable describes how all things are connected here on Planet Earth. Beautiful watercolors vividly depict the land and creatures of our world. This is a MUST read for children to help them understand the importance of preserving Earth’s ecology.

For even more book ideas, check out my list “Children’s Books – MUST HAVES” on Wishpot.com.


Lisa Gotkin said...

Great Blog!! What's with the picture of you wearing glasses? It's obviously a year old!!

Anonymous said...

I just found at least four more things to add to my list for Christmas!! I love the kid's books as much as they do. Thank you so very much for one of the best posts I've ever read!!!
Christy (at southernplate.com)

Tara @ Feels like home said...

I love this post! Great job! I'm going to link to this post for Things to Write Home About next Sunday. :) These would make terrific Christmas gifts.

Andrea -- Just One More Book!! Podcast said...

Great list! We'd love it if you would send us your thoughts (via voice mail or .mp3 file) on a favourite children's book so we can include your audio in our show.


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