I've been the only writer here at Fun at Home with Kids since I started it back in 2013. But with S in school full time during the year and X starting preschool in a few short weeks (eeek!), I wanted to bring on someone else to keep the blog trucking along, even if I'm sometimes posting a bit less frequently myself. I got the idea of booklists from my talented friend Allison McDonald of No Time for Flash Cards (she has epic numbers of fantastic book lists that you can find here). I'm often at a loss for which books to read X or to get S to read on her own (I still can't believe she's old enough to read on her own!), so I thought this would be a great resource to add to our blog.
I am SO SO SO EXCITED to say that my absolute favorite children's librarian ever agreed to write for us. S and I started attending her legendary storytimes (they are often standing room only) back when S was just 18 months old. Erica will be added themed booklists every few weeks -- if you have any topics you'd like to see a booklist for, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll try to add it to our ongoing list of ideas. With that, I'll let Erica introduce herself and kick things off with her absolute favorite books for kids.
This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.
Hi! I’m Erica, mom of a pretty awesome 9-year-old daughter, and I also happen to be a Children’s Librarian. I’m super honored to be asked by Asia to contribute booklists to her website. To start, Asia has asked me to list some of my favorite books for kids ages 0-10, just so you can get to know me a little better. So, I started my list, but it really got long. There are just too many fabulous books! So, I’m going to give you my first installment of books from board books to early readers. Chapter books for independent readers (and for family read-alouds) are forthcoming. So, here are Erica’s faves #1!
Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton is a board book loved by many, and understandably so. Boynton’s playful illustrations and gift for words and rhyme made it difficult to choose just one of her books. I chose this one because it BEGS to be danced, which I did on many occasions with my kid when she was small, and I get to enjoy again during my Baby Story Times. I love books that lend themselves to interactive reading and play (as you’ll see with other books below), and this book gets babies and and their grownups going from the start!
Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathman was another favorite board book of my daughter’s, although it’s also available as a picture book with paper pages. It’s a book of few words, but such expressive illustrations as the gorilla frees all the animals in the zoo so they can bunk with the zoo keeper and his unsuspecting wife. On the interactivity front, my daughter loved finding the moon and the balloon on each page…OK, I admit, I enjoyed that part, too.
Gossie by Olivier Dunrea is both a board book and picture book as well. I first ran across this book in a bookstore when my girl was a baby, and fell in love with Gossie and her friends. You can’t help but love a gosling who loves wearing her bright red boots…every day! But then, her boots are gone! There’s fun repetition and opposites as Gossie searches for her missing boots. The ending is sweet, but not forced, and simply put a smile on my face.
King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub by Audrey and Don Wood is just good, silly fun. I love pretty much everything they’ve done, and this is definitely at the top. Lots of repetition for kids to join in (“Oh, who knows what to do?”), amazingly vibrant illustrations, and in the end, it’s the kid who solves the problem of getting the king out of the bathtub.
Journey by Aaron Becker is a picture book with no words. There are many illustrators who have wonderful wordless books. Suzy Lee, Barbara Lehman, Bill Thompson and David Wiesner are among my favorites. Journey is a lovely watercolor celebration of creativity, adventure and the dawning of new friendship. When I had the privilege of hosting Aaron Becker at my library, the kids were practically gathered in his lap, and he was wonderfully gracious with them, and so I have included this particular wordless book on the list.
Click Clack Moo: Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin is one of those can you can’t help but read aloud. “Click clack moo, click clack moo, clickety clack moo!” Granted, most kids won’t know what a typewriter is anymore. (Am I dating myself if I tell you that I did use a typewriter when I was a kid?) Doesn’t matter…kids still get the story, and it provides grownups with the opportunity to talk to them about the ancient technology of typewriters, telephones with cords and record players.
A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza tells the story of a young bird looking for its mother. But unlike P.D. Eastman’s Are You My Mother (a childhood favorite of mine…I think my own mom can still recite it by heart because of me), Choco can’t seem to find a mother who looks just like him. But Mrs. Bear shows him that looking alike isn’t necessarily what makes a family. I love reading this at story time, and grownups in the room just have to deal with me getting a little misty at the end of the story.
The Family Book by Todd Parr is another that I read at story time because Todd Parr’s books are so bright, colorful, and just plain fun. His signature illustration style is appealing to young kids, and while there’s no plot to speak of, his words are simple and wise. The Family Book celebrates all kinds of families with charm, a little humor and a lot of love.
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch has stood the test of time, and it’s still a favorite of those looking for a different kind of princess. When a dragon burns Elizabeth’s dress off and snatches her betrothed, does she sit and wait to be rescued. NO! She decides to outsmart that dragon to rescue the prince herself…but her “happily ever after” is anything but Disney-fied.
Duck’s Vacation by Gilad Soffer is a new picture book that takes a takes a page from The Monster at the End of this Book (another favorite from my childhood). Duck wants to enjoy his vacation, but when the reader continues to turn pages, his relaxation keeps getting interrupted. When this book arrived in my library, I was showing it to everyone I could, and we were all giggling over this clever and silly story. One of my favorite parts is the disclaimer at the end of the book noting that a stunt-duck performed all the dangerous bits.
Press Here by Hervé Tullet is a fabulously interactive picture book that invites young readers to press, tip and shake the book for different effects. This is a great step beyond lift the flap books because it requires a bit of imagination and suspension of disbelief, and celebrates kids’ ability to simply take the book for what it is…fun.
The Odd Egg by Emily Gravett ventures a bit into my love for dark humor. All the other birds have an egg, but duck doesn’t…until he finds a green speckled one. Then all the other birds’ eggs hatch into cute little chicks, but duck’s doesn’t…until it does. But his chick is a little more, ahem, unusual and, um, carnivorous. If you like an edge here and there to your stories, Emily Gravett is definitely an author to have on your shelves.
I Want My Hat Back by John Klassen is another wonderfully warped picture book. Bear is so sad to have lost his hat and is asking all the animals if they have seen it. Let’s just say that, while there is no illustrative depiction violence, the reader can assume that it doesn’t end well for the rabbit. Clever and grimly fun, this one raised grownups’ eyebrows at story time, but the kids enjoyed it and fully appreciated the moral that it’s not wise to steal a bear’s hat.
What Was I Scared Of? by the incomparable Dr. Seuss is a story that was originally published in The Sneetches and Other Stories, but is now also published as stand-alone picture book. This was another one of my childhood favorites because I loved those pants, even though I, too, was scared of them at first. We all have fears of things we don’t understand, but if we just take the time to get to know people (and pants) who are different, there might just be hope for us yet.
Just a Second by Steve Jenkins adds a bit of nonfiction to this list. Steve Jenkins is well known for his books Actual Size and the Caldecott Honor book What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? This book takes the concept of time and looks at it from all sorts of animal perspectives, like in one second, a rattlesnake can shake its rattle 60 times and a bumblebee can flap its wings 200 times! From there we go up to minutes, hours, days, months and years. Time definitely flies while pouring over this beautiful and fascinating book.
There Is a Bird on Your Head by Mo Willems was the first in the beloved Elephant and Piggie series. I really love these books for early readers. The illustrations are fun and expressive, the text nice and large, and the stories are a hoot. When my daughter was learning to read, she and I would read the speech bubbles like a play. (She always got to play Piggie.) If you’re looking for a series to motivate your beginning reader, this just might be it.
Bears in the Night by Stan and Jan Berenstain was read backwards and forwards a million times when I was a child, and I still love it. The bears go in, out, up, down, around and through on their nocturnal adventure. It’s great first taste for young readers into being scared for fun’s sake, and a fabulous foray into the many great books by the Berenstains, both early readers and picture books.
Mr. Putter and Tabby Run the Race by Cynthia Rylant is dear to my heart. Cynthia Rylant has several wonderful series for kids building their fluency in reading, including Poppleton, Henry & Mudge, and Annie & Snowball. Mr. Putter and Tabby Run the Race made this list because of my daughter’s attachment to it when she was younger. Mr. Putter is an elderly man with a geriatric cat named Tabby. His neighbor, Mrs. Teaberry and her good dog Zeke, convince him to run with her in the senior marathon. But can he manage to come in second place to win the train set that he really wants?
Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degan brings kids on an underwater adventure to explore the animals and plants in our oceans. Just like in all the Magic School Bus books, Ms. Frizzle is the ultimate in experiential learning. And now there are early readers and short chapter books to capture the imaginations of different levels of readers. The Ocean Floor made this list because my husband and daughter made a morning routine of this book for several months running.