Let me start by saying that I have a fanatical hunger for buying books for our kids. As a former educator and a lover of books myself, having a plentiful library for our kids is somewhat of an obsession of mine. I want my kids to have 24/7 access to the classics and the new greats, my favorite books as a kid, informational nonfiction books, fairy tales, stories with lessons in them, and books that only come out for each holiday. The best books are the ones that keep them laughing and wondering long after we close them.
We've been reading to the kids since they were newborns, so sitting down to read together is one of the most natural things I do with the kids all day. Our kids love listening to books because they love the stories, pictures, and our sound effects - but more so they love the undivided attention it brings with us. In fact, when the day feels like it's all crumbling into a pile of madness; my first move is to tell the kids they each get to pick some books and we'll all take a 'time in' to read together.
As our children's library in the house is fairly large (and ever-growing!), it's always interesting to me to see which books the kids gravitate towards naturally. There are books that I love most for different reasons (the moral in Little Blue Truck , the message in Players In Pigtails , etc) but the kids have favorites of their own and those are usually the ones that I have memorized from start to finish. These are our Team Studer top 15 Most Beloved Children's books*
*And by our Most Beloved books, that means our most beat-up, taped, chewed, busted up books that are asked to be read over and over again.
Mercy Watson to the Rescue - by Kate DiCamillo
Kate DiCamillo is a writing genius. This book, these characters, this world is our bedtime bread and butter (hah! pun intended if you've read this book). I seriously might know all the words to this entire book by heart. We also have Mercy Watson Fights Crime but DiCamillo's first Mercy Watson book is by far our favorite. Greyson and Gemma both love this story and I know exactly what page Gemma will drift off to sleep. It's a chapter book, but we read straight through to the end every time we read it. Thank you Ms. DiCamillo, seriously this is maybe top favorite book in our entire home.
Sam and Dave Dig a Hole - by Mac Barnett
I love this book so much. It's a bonus that the kids love it too because I don't mind reading it at all. Sam, Dave, and their pup go out to find something spectacular and, oh boy, do our kids love knowing all the spectacular that Sam and Dave just barely miss out on! They love being 'in the know' like the dog (hahah!) and then the odd twist at the end keeps us forever speculating on what actually happened on their adventure. We've only had this book since last Christmas and it's in a heavy rotation of here.
Peanut Butter Rhino - by Vincent Andriani
Bar none, the funniest book we have in our collection. I was first introduced to this book when my little sis purchased it many a year ago in one of those Scholastic order forms you get in school. The copy we have is actually THAT copy, so it's no wonder it's been taped up about one hundred times already. It also helps that my voice for the Rhino is straight up ridiculous and the pages are organized similarly to a comic book. I mean, is there anything more funny than a Rhino who doesn't know his squished sandwich is still stuck to his butt? um, no.
Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain - by Verna Aardema
I discovered this book while teaching and fell in love with the rythm and the folktale that makes up the book. The story is set to the pace of 'The house that Jack built,' so it's fun for the kids to hear the story grow up on itself on each page. Greyson especially loves the idea of shooting the rain from the clouds with a bow and arrow and sometimes we go outside and try to do just that on cloudy days.
Goodnight, Gorilla- by Peggy Rathman
This nearly wordless book captivates my children with some sort of magical pull. My kids from age 8 months to 5 years all love this book. It's also one of the first choices when the bigger kids get to 'read' to Violet because the lack of words on each page somehow gives them the confidence to read it without being reminded that they can't yet actually read words. This book is brillant.
Peter's Chair - by Ezra Jack Keats
Oh, Peter, we can so relate to his ache to keep his own things for himself instead of sharing with his baby sister. We love Peter because WE are Peter. Peter doesn't want to give his 'baby things' for his little sister because they are his, but as he finds, he doesn't need them anymore. The struggle is real over here too with three siblings, so Peter's story is a refreshing and gentle reminder of how big kids get to do big kid things and they grow out of baby things. Plus, Peter tricks his mom with a funny prank towards the end and the kids think it's absolutely genius.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? - by Eric Carle
We have three copies of this book and read all of them, but our favorite is the interactive slide&find book. This book has lovingly grown up with our kids from babies (beautiful colors and repetitive words) to toddlers (they love the funny voices I add to each animal), to preschoolers (who find this book easy to 'read'). Eric Carle is wonderful and we have several of his books. Our second favorite (almost made this same list!) is The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
There's a Mouse About the House! -by Richard Fowler
This book may come as blast from the past - my sisters and I loved the crap out of this book when we were little. I randomly saw it in a bookstore a year or so ago and had such a feeling of nostalgia I bought it on the spot. Now my kids are loving the crap out of it. We've lost and then found the mouse in our own house multiple times. We've had to packing-tape the mouse up twice now and also the mouse holes in the book. It's not a great wear and tear book for little ones - but they don't care, it's all busted everywhere and they are still constantly pulling it out. It's seriously the most fun book ever.
Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale - by Mo Willems
If it's by the amazing Mo Willems, you know its going to be good. Knuffle Bunny makes our kids laugh and they love knowing Trixie's problem while her Daddy keeps walking totally clueless about the missing bunny. Knuffle Bunny is our favorite Mo Willems book, but certainly not our only. We also have the second Knuffle Bunny and two Pigeon books. My next Mo Willems book that's on my wishlist is Waiting is Not Easy.
Smart Kids: Predators - by Roger Priddy
The kids LOVE these books. I LOVE these books. I want all of the Smart Kids books (we already have three of them). They have just enough information to totally delight the kids, but not overwhelm them. And if the kids are restless and need something to hold them over until dinner time, I tell them to go get a Smart Kids book and look through it, to which they happily do. Huge full page pictures of the animals up close and cool graphics to tell you how dangerous and how big each predator is.
Chloe, Instead - by Micah Player
Another sibling book that lends to the fact that having little siblings is both hard and fun. We originally got this book to read before Violet was born, but it's been heavy in rotation long since then. The illustrations are bright and beautiful and the kids love Chloe and her hilarious, mischievous nature. The ending is so sweet, I almost cry every time we read it (hah), and it's such a nice reminder that being a big sibling takes a lot of patience and kindness.
This Jazz Man - by Karen Ehrhardt
I bought this book because of a Intro to Jazz class I took in college when I fell in love with Jazz music and it's history. To my sheer delight, this is one of our kids' favorite books. It's set to the rhythm of 'This Old Man' and each page portrays a famous Jazz musician. We usually end up looking up the real life musicians on youtube after reading the book. There is a little mouse that hidden somewhere on each page too, which is a big draw for the kids to point the little guy out.
Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? Book of Wonderful Noises - by Dr. Seuss
This book has the wackiness of Dr. Seuss without the length. I love it because it is both fun to read and also short enough that keeps the kids attention. I can say it with my eyes closed and the kids like to try to 'sing' the last page with all the noises. We have the tiny sized board book, so it's easy to carry in the diaper bag (one of the reasons our is so beat up). It's our favorite book to read while we wait for our food to arrive at restaurants.
A Lot of Otters - by Barbara Helen Berger
This book will forever be held in my heart because it is a favorite bedtime story for my kids while they were still young enough for daytime naps. Each page has beautiful, almost drowsy, lyrics and honestly lulls the kids to quiet reflection. Maybe its the beauty of the otters drudging up stars from the bottom of the sea, or the peace that comes when the worrying Mother Moon finally finds her lost child who is safe floating in a box. I don't know what it is about this book, but we all cherish it.
My No No No Day - by Rebecca Patterson
We all love this book. Bella is having a crap day and she just wakes up with a bad attitude. The rest of her day, she goes on to describe all the things that go wrong (spoiler alert: everything annoys her today) and then finishes with her apologizing to her momma before she wakes up to have a better day the next day. There are some negative reviews on Amazon for this book because Bella doesn't get any consequences all day for being cranky - but we use the book as a way to see how sometimes we all have hard days, life is like that, but it doesn't mean every day is a hard day and it also doesn't mean that every kid who is cranky in public is a bad kid (including our own)! I also always point out Bella's momma in the book who looks so ragged and tired (so much like ME! Hah!) and how even after Bella is not very nice all day, her momma still comes to tuck her in at night with her favorite story and forgives her - because that's what parents do, they love their kids, even on the hard days.
What are some of your family's most beloved and worn out books? You know I'm always trying to grow our library over here!
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