Recently, I asked my friends and family for some advice. I asked them to send me ideas for books to read to my son. He's three-and-a-half, and he loves reading. A lot. As a former English teacher, one might think I would be thrilled about his love of literature, and I am. What I am not thrilled with is the titanic collection of mindless dribble I find in bookstores. The bookstore shelves are so frustratingly crammed full of lackluster texts for tots that it is nearly impossible to find the few pearls. Scan the list below for the generous suggestions and comments from parents in the know, as well as a few gems I've managed to cull from the crowded bookstore shelves.
- Title: I Can Do It By Myself
Publisher: Western Publishing Company-A Golden Sturdy Book
I think all parents can relate to hearing these words. If you haven't heard them yet, you will soon. My super cool aunt raves about this book. She says it was one of our favorites when we were small, and now she reads it to our children. It's really simple to read and nicely illustrated.
2. Title: Amazing Grace
Author: Mary Hoffman and Caroline Binch
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
This story about acceptance and confidence reveals a little girl who wants to play Peter Pan in her school play. One of her classmates says she can't because of her skin color. The little girl's grandmother then takes her on a journey and shows her the first African American prima ballerina in Swan Lake.
3. Title: Where the Sidewalk Ends
Author: Shel Silverstein
One of my best friends adores this book, “Emma and I both love this book. I can still, to this day, rattle off the entire poem, Sick (a two-pager) because it is so poignant, funny and lyrical. And now I have Emma singing through Ickle Me Pickle Me, Tickle Me Too. I love that she has taken to something I loved as a child. "
I can also vouch for the success of this book in our home. I, too, adored this book as a child, and I partially credit Silverstein with my love for writing and reading poetry.
4. Title: Miss Spider's Tea Party
Author and Illustrator: David Kirk
These books are known for their incredibly vivid and vibrant illustrations. Each page is a work of art. But it's also a story about letting go of preconceived ideas about people (and spiders. )
5. Title: Love that Dog
Author: Sharon Creech
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
This is another one of those fantastic poetry books. I love it myself; I love it for my son; I loved it when I taught poetry to my high school students. It's about a boy named Jack who is exploring poetry and trying to find his own inspiration, which he manages to find in his dog, Sky.
6. Title: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
Author: Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault
Illustrator: Lois Ehlert
Publisher: Little Simon
I have to add that just today, when I picked my son up from school, a lot of the kids were circled closely around their teacher, entranced by the book she was reading to them-Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. This book offers welcome relief from the monotony of most ABC books.
7. Title: Barnyard Dance
Author: Sandra Boynton
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company
This book was recommended by a friend of mine who is a mother and a writer, so she knows her stuff. “We have a rollicking good time sing-songing this lively rhyming board book. Elizabeth is six and we still love it, and now she reads it herself!" Another book, by Sandra Boynton, that we love in our house is Personal Penguin.
8. Title: Goodnight Moon
Author: Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd
A classic. This was on my list for sure and has been vouched for by nearly every parent who responded to my request for ideas. We have this book in Spanish, too, and we've read it so many times that it really doesn't matter which version we read anymore; Xander knows it so well.
9. Title: Toy Boat
Author: Randall de Seve and Loren Long
Publisher: Philomel Books
This is a new book that I think will become a classic. It's a great story about a little boat that gets separated from his little boy. The small boat is, at first, excited about his new freedom to sail in the huge lake, but he quickly encounters many big (and some scary) boats that caution him to “Move along!" It's a new twist on the old big kid/little kid stories, where eventually the little kid (er, boat) survives encounters with the big kids (boats) and returns home safely. Each glossy page is home to imaginative and vivid illustrations.
10. Title: Where the Wild Things Are
Author: and Illustrator: Maurice Sendak
How could I leave out this classic? I used to love this story, and now it is one of my son's favorites. We've been reading it for about two years, now, and he has every page memorized, but we all still love the story of the boy with the wild imagination. If you forgot about this one, it's time to go to the store.
Christie Stockstill is an Austin portrait photographer and mother to an awesome three-and-a-half-year-old son. She specializes in maternity, baby, and children photography and reads every day with Xander (often the same books again, and again, and again. )