Children’s Books


David and I are book people.  We read books, collect books, hoard books… and we have for pretty much all our lives.  Books play a big part of our baby registry (and no, that’s not just an excuse).  I’ll admit, it’s a lot of fun going through the Amazon Recommends and reminiscing about reading those books when I was little.

So I thought to myself, “Self?  The people who read your blog like books, several of them like children’s books specifically.  Why don’t you ping them to see if they can add suggestions?”

I have awesome ideas.  So, I beg you:  What books do you recommend for reading to/learning to read with small children?  What books do you remember loving?  What makes them awesome?

(Gonna put our current list behind a fold…)

Beatrix Potter
Peter Rabbit
The Tale of Jemima Puddle-duck
Jeremy Fisher
Tom Kitten
Maurice Sendak
Where the Wild Things Are
Margaret Wise Brown
Goodnight Moon
The Runaway Bunny
Eric Carle
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Dorothy & Edith Kunhardt
Pat the Bunny
Sam McBratney
Guess How Much I Love You
Dr Seuss
Green Eggs and Ham
The Cat in the Hat
One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
Peggy Fortnum & Michael Bond
A Bear Called Paddington
Margery Wiliams Bianco
The Velveteen Rabbit
Jean De Brunhoff
The Story of Babar
Marjorie Flack & Kurt Wiese
The Story of Ping
Ludwig Bemelmans & Ernesto Livon-Grosman
Judith Viorst
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Margaret Bloom Graham & Gene Zion
Harry the Dirty Dog
Russell Hoban
Bedtime for Frances
Erin Gathrid
The Poky Little Puppy
Gustaf Tenggren
Tawny Scrawny Lion
A A Milne
Winnie the Pooh
Harry Allard
Miss Nelson is Missing!
Kathryn Jackson
The Saggy Baggy Elephant
Andrew Lang
Blue Fairy Book
Blance Fisher Wright
The Real Mother Goose
Robert Graves
Greek Gods and Heroes
Aesop’s Fables
James Herriot
The Christmas Day Kitten
Oscar, Cat-About-Town
Moses the Kitten
Only One Woof


15 responses »

  1. First off….the fact that this system forces me to use quotes on book titles rather than underline has my OCD all in a tizzy. 😉


    Cooper absolutely loves Dr. Seuss’ “Hop on Pop” and “ABCs”. He’s got quite an extensive vocabulary for an almost 2 year old and I credit all the Dr. Seuss library (along with a lot of reading time from Mommy and Daddy) for that.

    There is also a great computer program version of ABCs when they get a little older that allows them to interact with it as well which has been fun in limited use for us.

    All of the Eric Carle books are visually stimulating and Cooper enjoys them quite a bit.

    My favorite book of all time is “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. I highly recommend putting that one on the list even though it might be a couple of years before it’s a great read.

    A couple of others in our rotation:
    “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” by Mo Willems
    “Corduroy” by Don Freeman

    Also…not “reading” at it’s finest, but we love the Fisher Price Little People Lift up Flap books. “Let’s Go to the Zoo”, “Cars, Trucks, Planes and Trains”, “Let’s Go to the Farm”, “My Little People School Bus” etc. He’s has learned so much by lifting the flaps and telling us what is underneath. It also makes for a good game of “Can you show me where ________ is?”

    • “The Giving Tree” is currently on my bookshelf, and we definitely intend to use it in a couple/few years. 🙂

      Dr Seuss I’m ambivalent on. David loves it, I hated it as a kid. But we’re both very much pro-letting kids make up their own minds, so those’ll go on the list.

      Haven’t actually heard of “Don’t Let the Pigeon” or “Corduroy” but I’ll definitely give them a peek.

      As for the Fisher Price… don’t actually have a lot of active books on our list (just “Pat the Bunny”) so that’s definitely a hole.


  2. Other additions… though a lot of what I’d suggest is already on the list. 🙂

    Who Sank the Boat, Pamela Allen
    Imogene’s Antlers, David Small
    The Money Tree, David Small
    Paper John, David Small (… anything by David Small)
    Angelina Ballerina, Katherin Holabird and Helen Craig
    Stellaluna, Janell Cannon
    The complete adventures of Blinky Bill, Dorothy Wall (may be out of print)
    Mama, do you love me?, Barbara M. Joosse
    Three Billy Goats Gruff (Ellen Appleby’s version is good, but there are lots)
    Anything Berenstein Bear
    Anything Curious George
    Sheep Shape, Marcia Vaugn and Kilmeny Niland (also out of print, sometimes you can find it used on amazon- ADORABLE book)
    The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams
    The Goat in the Rug, Charles L. Blood
    5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, Eileen Christelow
    Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Bill Martin Jr and others
    Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3, Bill Martin Jr and otehrs
    We’re going on a bear hunt, Michael Rosen
    The Going to Bed Book, Sandra Boynton
    But not the HIppopotamus, Susan Boynton
    Diary of a Wombat, Jackie French

    There may be others as I filter Museum memories back through my mind. I used to work in a Preschool room, and we had to read children’s books to the kids all the time. I had many favorites. Their names just escape me now!

    • Kaylan —
      I totally forgot about Angelina Ballerina, Stellaluna and the Berenstein Bears! Doh!

      The rest of what you listed, I don’t know that I’ve heard of. I’ll give them a poke, though!


  3. Two baby books that are must-reads are Pat the Bunny and Goodnight, Moon. They were favorites of my kids, and when we found out we were going to be grandparents, we bought new copies.

    Now that Alison is in first grade (and reads way above that level!), her uncle has introduced her to Knufflebunny. (Check Amazon.) It doesn’t hurt that Uncle Bryan lives in the Brooklyn area that is also home to Knufflebunny.

    As for Dr. Seuss: They’re fun. They help kids learn about rhyming, and they introduce the concept of “silly” very well. I won’t credit Dr. Seuss entirely (or blame him), but the first words Alie says to me on the phone or in person are, “You’re silly, Grandpa!”

    • Steve —
      Good to note, I’ll see about adding that one. For whatever reason when I was a kid, I didn’t really like Seuss (still don’t), so David’s in charge of reading those. 😉 Important to give the kids the opportunity to decide whether they’re good or not, though.

      And you keep logging in from different wordpress accounts/emails so I have to keep approving you! /fistshake

  4. : ) Yea, thanks to my Job I got exposed to hundreds of children’s books that weren’t so common.

    My top 5 from what I listed are:
    Who sank the boat? (Adorable beyond words.)
    The goat in the rug (Navajo story about weaving)
    Mama, do you love me? (Inuit story with awesome art)
    Imogene’s Antlers (David Small was a local author/artist in michigan- he’s awesome, his books are awesome.)
    Diary of a Wombat (… Wombat. Enough said.)

    If that helps you narrow it down some. 😀

  5. Okay, first, just throw away The Giving Tree right now! It’s the worst story ever written! It teaches you to either be a selfish, self-absorbed taker or to be a door mat. Someone gifted it to Naomi, I read it once, and vowed to never read it again. Awful!

    Okay, for books that we love:
    Anything by Sandra Boynton, specifically the Hippo books. They’re cute and have a particular rhythm to them that makes them easy to memorize. Which you’ll find helpful when your baby’s going through the several month stage of just wanting to grab the book and put it in their mouth. If you keep “reading” them the book even though they’re turning the pages too fast or have the entire book in their mouth, they’ll still grab the concept early that books tell stories.

    As for Dr. Seuss, the books you listed are good, but are for a tot who’s a bit older (around 2 years). For the infant, the board books Mr. Brown can Moo, ABC book, The Foot Book are all great. They also have a great rhythm that kids seem to enjoy.

    Anything by Eric Carle is fantastic! In fact, we read Polar Bear, Polar Bear this morning at the library and both girls loved it. The visuals are awesome and we enjoy the stories.

    The Laura Numeroff books, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, If You Give a Moose a Muffin, If You Take a Mouse to the Movies, etc. They’re funny and cute and I think helps kids learn narration and sequence.

    The illustrator of the Laura Numeroff books is Felicia Bond and she has a book called Tumble Bumble that Naomi loves and is always a bedtime request for her.

    Goodnight, Moon is a must have. It’s just that book that every kid has to have on his/her bookshelf

    Curious George books are fun. Karen Katz has some fun flap books.

    Also, any trip you take to Target, skim their $1 aisles at the front of the store. They often have tons of tiny board books there. And I can’t stress how nice it is to have short, cheap books for those months that the baby won’t have an attention span to look at and listen to a book.

    All of this was at the top of my head. When I’m actually sitting down by the girls’ bookshelves, I’ll see if there’s anything else in particular that’s worth noting!

    • Sorry, Annie. I gotta agree with Stephen (and disagree with you). I loved The Giving Tree when I was little, and still love it now. 🙂 It’s staying on my shelf, where it’s happily resided for the past 20-something years 😉

      • I truly don’t get that book. When I see people in society that are self-absorbed morons or doormats who let everyone and everyone take advantage of them, it makes me think they were read that book as a child 😛

        What am I missing?

        BTW, I have other writings by Silverstein that we enjoy. It’s just this particular book that annoys the heck out of me.

  6. The Giving Tree is the worst story ever written?

    I realize that it’s a somewhat controversial title that if interpreted in a more pessimistic way can come across as self-absorbed, but ultimately it’s a book about unconditional love. In particular the unconditional love that a parent feels for his/her child.

    There is a degree of teaching that goes along with a book like The Giving Tree and that is the responsibility of the parent reading it. There is a lesson to be learned even if you take the more bleak point of view that you and many other people do. We can teach our children that being selfish and self absorbed isn’t right and it not only makes people look at you poorly, but also has the consequence of hurting those who love you.

    I choose to believe that it’s a story that allows us to not only teach the aforementioned lesson that other people’s feelings are important and we need to make sure that our actions don’t impact them while making sure people realize that we appreciate the things that they do for us, but also that no matter what mistakes our children may make as they grow up and learn how to be people in a free society that we will always love them. We will do everything in our power to provide for them, protect them and give them everything they need – even if they don’t appreciate it. That is the core message of” The Giving Tree.”

    You may feel that neither the boy or the tree in the story is a protagonist worthy of being a role model for your daughter, but it seems a bit harsh to refer to it as the “worst story ever written” and to suggest throwing it away rather than using it as a way to explain your thoughts to your child and encourage a discussion.

    I hope this doesn’t come across as a slam on you, Annie. A friend of Marianne’s is probably a pretty cool person at the core, but “The Giving Tree” is a very personal book to me and I couldn’t disagree more with your comments.

    • First, I need to state that I was exaggerating when I said that it was “the worst book ever written” and I would never _actually_ recommend someone throwing away a book. As a passionate book lover myself, I would never actually want someone to do that. Knowing that Marianne wold never actually throw the book away, I felt safe making the over-the-top remark.

      But I do very much dislike the book. I own it (yes, as much as I dislike it, it remains on my daughter’s bookshelf), but I won’t read it to her again. You state the tree embodies “unconditional love”. I instead see it as enabling. Yes, as a parent we should strive to love and to provide. And we should expect our children to make mistakes and that it’s important to show them that we can still be there for them through their faults and mistakes. But then there’s going too far, and our society is riddled with parents who enable their children (from toddlers to adults).

      Yes, as a parent I have opportunities to discuss stories with my children and I can use those discussions to enforce the principles I want to instill in my daughters. But I do expect the stories we share to help me in that. Why would I read a book to then say, “everything in this book is exactly how you should not be”. The man never ever acknowledges the sacrifices the tree makes, and the tree enables him to continue his selfish nature. I personally see nothing redeeming about either character.

      I don’t take your comments personally, so no worries that I took your response as a “slam”. And I’m not trying to convince you that a book you love isn’t worthy of your praise or adoration. But I see it in a totally different view, and see that view modeled in society more than I would like. So it’s not a book I could ever recommend to another.

  7. The Sesame Street book “There’s a Monster At The End of This Book” is one that is almost as much fun to read as it is to listen to. It’s my favorite to grab if I’ve got a tiny child that needs amusing nearby.

    I think that’s the only title I’ve got to share which can easily be found in the age range the other books here appear to fall under. I’ve got a lot of Middle Grade stuff through YA, but most of the really small stuff that’s stuck with me is kind of obscure.

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