I'm always on the lookout for good children's books. There are a few classics that already adorn my son's library (Goodnight Moon, Where the Wild Things Are, The Very Hungry Catterpiller, etc.) along with a few of my own picks, but one of my favorite things is when people give me books they have loved. Often they're books with which I'm not very familiar, but I can count on their quality because they've been loved by someone I know.
So, when my mother-in-law told me about her most recent book club, I thought it was brilliant. In this book club meeting, each of the participants was encouraged to bring one children's book they loved and one children's book their children loved. Often the women had vastly different favorites from their children (and even didn't really like the books their children did), but I thought it was a great way to compile a good children's library. And I wanted to replicate it.
Thus, here's our very own version of the Children's Book Club - our personal favorites of the children's book genre.
The Jolly Postman, by Allen Ahlberg
This was one of my favorite books as a child. It connects Mother Goose characters through the postman, who takes letters to the residents. Each page features an actual envelope and letter, and the letters form a kind of continuing story of the nursery rhyme characters. If children today are anything like me, they will love opening and unfolding the letters and finding out what happened after the classic stories ended.
Skippyjon Jones, by Judy Schachner
This is one of my current favorites. I love both the storyline of the spunky, imaginative main character and the rhythmic language of this book. It's been awarded the E.B. White Read-Aloud Award, and with a combination of Spanish, colloquialisms, and rhymes, it's certainly easy to get into the role of storyteller with Skippyjon.
One, by Kathryn Otoshi
Another one of my current favorites. It's a simple, quick story, but it imparts an important lesson in language children can understand and appreciate. See, when Blue is bullied by Red, he doesn't know what to do. The other colors don't do anything for him, and soon they are bullied, too. But One soon comes along and encourages them to stand up for themselves, and in the end, each realizes he or she can "count." Great for teaching children about standing up to bullies.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault
It's hard to tell what my 10-month-old son loves, but when he can't keep his mouth off it, we know it's a hit - and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is the book he always wants to chew on. It's got wonderfully bright colors and fun illustrations that even the youngest children can enjoy, with the added bonus for parents of helping to teach the alphabet.
Miss Fannie’s Hat, by Jan Karon
Miss Fannie is a little old lady who has more hats than she can handle. To raise money for her church, she decides to sell one of her hats. As she tries to pick one hat, however, she remembers the stories that go with each hat, and it’s difficult to let go of any of them. I like that the story is inventive and engaging. This book made me realize that old people were young once too, and it teaches respect for that. The book also comes with little magnet hats that you can put on Miss Fannie.
Heckedy Peg, by Audrey Wood and Don Wood
A mother has seven lovely children. She goes to the market one day to get them presents, but warns them not to let the witch, Heckedy Peg, into the house. Of course, they don’t listen, and the mother must use her wits to overcome the witch. I loved guessing how the mother would fool the witch, and the pictures kept me entertained for hours. They’re so intricate, and there’s always something new to find, like in an I Spy book.
King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub, by Audrey Wood and Don Wood
King Bidgood’s in the bathtub, and no one can find a way to get him to come out. The king’s friends try many hilarious ways to entice him out of the tub, but instead, they get stuck in the tub, too. Who will discover the solution to this problem?
The story keeps children engaged as they try to guess what new crazy ploy the court will come up with. The pictures are also stunning and beautifully descriptive.
Olivia, by Ian Falconer
This is one of my current favorites to read to my little girl. I love the black, white, and red charcoal artwork, and also how Falconer incorporates the real art of Degas and Pollock into the story. And Olivia the pig's fashion sense is something to be admired! It's a book that both children and adults can appreciate.
Puzzle Island, by Paul Adshead
My copy of this book is almost torn to pieces I read it so much as a child. It's the ultimate "I Spy" book, but with a twist. Along the edges of the illustration are scrambled letters that spell the name of an animal. Once you discover the animal, you have to search for it, hidden within the illustration. And what beautiful, tropical illustrations they are! I spent countless hours reading this book.
Harvey Potter's Ballon Farm, by Jerdine Nolen
I always wished this book was a true story. It is such an imaginative, whimsical story, I could see it as the next Disney Pixar film (truly!). The story follows Harvey Potter, a farmer who grows balloons. No one knows exactly how he does it, but with the help of the light of a full moon, one child catches a peek of just how Harvey Potter grows them.
Berenstain Bears books, by Stan and Jan Berenstain
I love the Berenstain Bears books because they teach good principles in a fun way. I remember as a kid learning about things like keeping my room clean or not eating too much candy from reading these books, but it wasn’t obvious to me, and it wasn’t boring.
Wayside School books, by Louis Sacher
These books are just hilarious. I picked one up a few months ago and it still cracked me up. I think it’s great for children’s books to teach principles, but sometimes it’s good to just laugh!
Join our club! Share your favorite children's books with us by leaving a comment below.