I’m not always the best “get on the floor and play” kind of mom, but any time one of my kids wants to bring me a book, I’ll drop what I’m doing in favor of some cuddles and reading time.
I just love children’s books, and the experience of reading with my kids. We don’t just do it at bedtime, by the way -- we do morning books, weekend afternoon stories and even an occasional dinner-time or bath-time book.
In our house, we believe reading is for ALL kids, at all times of the day, from birth until ... actually, I’m not quite sure. I do plan on reading with my children even after they can do it independently, but we’ll see how long they allow it. (For reference, my kids are currently 4 and 6, so we have a while to figure that out).
Anyway, needless to say, I’m that person my friends go to when they have a question about what book to buy for a friend who’s expecting, or for a 5-year-old’s birthday party (BTW, books are an excellent gift. Birthdays, showers, any sort of special occasion -- they’re my go-to).
So, with that in mind, I thought I’d share some personal favorites as of late.
Should we make this a series? You tell me.
I’d love to hear what you’re reading (and loving!) with your kids. So without further ado ...
- “Stuck” by Oliver Jeffers -- So funny. Poor Mitch the cat! (Not to mention, the whale and the others). 🤣 I don’t want to give away the whole book, so you’re going to have to read for yourself why exactly I’m giggling over here. Even the font makes this book somehow funnier.
- “Run Wild” by David Covell -- I can’t quite put my finger on why this one is such magic. I like the style, the illustrations, the rhyming and the outdoor theme. My kids are enchanted by it ... and they love saying, “UGH! Slug!” and laughing and laughing.
- “The Grumpy Monkey” by Suzanne Lang -- Poor Jim-panzee canNOT catch a break. (At least he didn’t dance with porcupine). But there’s a good lesson here: Sometimes you don’t need people to fix your problems for you, or offer endless suggestions, if you’re having a bad day. You just need someone to say, “I hear ya!” and that can really make all the difference.
- “The Day You Begin” by Jaqueline Woodson -- “There will be times when you walk into a room, and no one there is quite like you.” My kids are still growing into this book, but it’s incredibly relevant right now, and just the sweetest. It’s about the idea of finding the courage to connect with others, even when you feel scared and alone. It’s an absolute must-stock on your bookshelves.
- “Strictly No Elephants” by Lisa Mantchev -- This is just adorable. A quick read, but I use it to talk about empathy with my kids. “How do you think he must have felt, when he saw that sign and realized the kids didn’t want to play with him?” Let this one kick-start a healthy conversation about friendships and inclusion. There’s a cute ending here, too!
- “Shark Detective!” by Jessica Olien -- My son cracks up at this one. Even just the fact that the book opens with a shark who lives in a hotel room, alone, in a big city, and you see his silhouette sitting there ... the illustration gets us every time. Books should be fun, and never feel like a chore. This one likely isn’t winning any literary prizes, but it’s one of Robby’s favorites, and he genuinely looks forward to it every night. That’s what reading is all about.
- “Just In Case You Want to Fly” by Julie Fogliano and Christian Robinson -- I tear up at this sometimes, because it’s just so pure. Everything I’ve seen so far from Robinson has been incredible. The illustrations are just as perfect. (And his line at Target is just as cute!) Back to the book though: Tell me you understood the bison joke, because it took me WAY too long for this to register, haha.
*Honorable mention: “Another” is pretty fun too, because there’s no text, so it forces your kids to follow the pictures and use their own words to piece together what’s happening in the story. It might not be for everyone, but we love it!
- The “Knuffle Bunny” series by Mo Willems -- Phew, speaking of tearing up! Pair these three books with a stuffed Knuffle Bunny and it’s honestly the BEST baby shower present. And let’s be honest, kids books are for the parents, too. You’ll love these. I could do a whole separate story dedicated to Willems books; he’s one of the greats.
- “Otis” by Loren Long -- Just a beautiful story.
- “A Unicorn Named Sparkle” by Amy Young -- Normally I steer clear from too much unicorn silliness, but this book is actually pretty funny. My daughter and I love saying, “Hey dude, what’s your goat’s name?” ... “He’s not a goat. He’s a special kind of unicorn.” ... “Hmm. Looks like a goat.” (I think we took some creative liberties there, but those are pretty close to the original lines).
- “The Dot” by Peter Reynolds -- A quick read with a good message. Both of my kids LOVE this.
- “The Serious Goose” by Jimmy Kimmel -- Hey, Kimmel put more work into this one than Jimmy Fallon did with “Your Baby’s First Word Will Be DADA,” lol. Anyway, the goose book is slightly ridiculous and will not help calm your kids down before bedtime, but I get a kick out of my children “trying to make the goose laugh” into the little mirror. Five stars for entertainment value alone!
It should be noted: Quite a few of these have sequels, or they’re part of a series, so if you too loved “Otis” or “Memoirs,” just know that there are more out there!
Email me with your recommendations, and I just might include them in a future story. Thank you in advance! Happy reading.
This story was first published in 2021. It has since been updated.