You can really help to shape your child’s experience and understanding of their world through the books you read together. Choose wisely and make reading books together a part of your lives. I have spent hours on the floors of bookstores and libraries reading through piles of books and gratefully receiving wonderful additions to our library from friends. Here are our favorites:
My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss
My Many Colored Days is absolutely one of my favorite books. It gives little ones so much. Emotional intelligence is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child. Research shows the factor that most predicts success is not physical appearance or intelligence but Emotional Intelligence (EQ). This book gives the littlest ones a platform to grasp these concepts, dive into their imagination, explore themselves, and read others. The art is absolutely gorgeous and so eye-catching. The animals characters make the story relevant and interesting for the youngest of readers. I have the board book version so my babies can really “experience” the book but it comes in a standard version as well. Very classy book- a staple of any solid family library.
The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen
This is my absolute favorite book- a must have for your child’s library. Read it with a sense of humor and really play up the emotional states in the book. It’s so entertaining, has super cute illustrations, and so effectively teaches one of the best lessons you can teach your kids; life and who you are is all a matter of interpretation. Be a kiss-kiss fish!
Someday by Alison McGhee
The seasons of life are something that can be difficult for a little one to comprehend. This story captures the essence of love throughout time between a mother and child, on through generations, so well.
I Love You Through and Through by Bernadette Rosetti-Shustak
This adorable book breaks down all the sides of your baby that you love. In addition to being simple and sweet, this book is playful. You can touch or enact all the sides of your baby that you love (ex: bottom side, loud side) as you read. One of my favorites to read with the little boys I love through and through. This is one of those books I will save for the rest of their lives.
Rain Brings Frogs by Maryann Cocca-Leffler
I am so in love with the very simple message in this book of choosing gratitude.
It’s Time to Sleep, My Love by Nancy Tillman
I love this book. I breathe deeper just thinking about it. It’s a great nighttime story with beautifully serene artwork and a poetic and loving story. It’s like a lullaby weaved with visual imagery.
Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems
This book is great. It is so funny and kids relate so well all while providing opportunity for great conversations about emotion. It is the story of a little girl name Trixie who ventures to the laundry mat with her daddy and on the way home realizes something… (her knuffle bunny didn’t make the trip home). She “bawls” and goes “boneless” all while her daddy gets more frustrated and angry. Then, of course, the minute they open the door to the house mom says, “Where’s Knuffle Bunny?” and a mad dash and search and rescue operation ensue. The book is short and the illustration mixes real life photo with bright and vibrant drawing so it captures the attention of little ones. It so accurately tells the tale of a baby’s world and how their behavior is about communication and emotion. Our favorite thing to do is identify what Trixie might be feeling by her various facial expressions. Read with your baby’s stuffie in hand!
The Dark, Dark Night by M. Christina Butler
My 4-year-old son chose this book to bring to preschool for me to read to the class. He is so empowered and entertained with hilarity at the storyline of animal friends, terrified of a ferocious swamp monster… which turns out to be their own shadow. The story is written in such a way, with a repetitive chorus, that even your littlest ones will be reciting the story along with you. Plus, the artwork is so rich with color, scenic and detailed; it keeps you hanging on the turn of every page with suspense.
Have You Seen My Potty? by Mij Kelly
This book is just ridiculously cute. This little girl “has something very important to do” but the animals keep swiping her potty seat! They revel in the joy of finally having something to solve all their potty needs but Susie Sue has to poo! Make the potty seat a part of your little one’s world. The adorable illustrations and sweet rhymes of this story are just what you need to introduce your baby to the potty seat as a fun, positive thing. Such a funny story- just as enjoyable for the story reader as the story listener :).
Bear Feels Sick by Karma Wilson
Bear Feels Sick is a great book about friendship, empathy, and tender loving care. I love the whole Bear series and this story in particular just teaches such great lessons about being a good friend that so many children today seem to be missing. All the animal friends take care of their friend Bear when he is sick and then when he feels better all of his animal friends fall ill and Bear gets to reciprocate. My favorite part about the Bear books is the writing. The rhyme and flow is so easy and fun to read- poetry you both will enjoy and the illustrations are beautiful works of art.
The Spirit of Christmas by Nancy Tillman
I love all of Nancy Tillman’s books and this Christmas book lives up to her poetic and artistic style, centering itself on that beautiful and emotional bond between parent and child.
“And so then, my darling, wherever you roam,
may you always be safe…may you always come home.
For as long as the world still spins and still hums,
wherever you are, and no matter what comes,
the best part of Christmas will always be…
you beneath my Christmas tree.”
Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson
I the whole Bear series by Karma Wilson. Other books in the series include Bear Feels Sick and Bear Snores On. These stories teach such great lessons in friendship and are so fun to read. If every child learned to be a good friend, the work would be so much closer to peace. The illustrations are so pretty, Jane Chapman is one of my favorite illustrators.
Read seasonal books. Not only are they a great opportunity to celebrate your beliefs (you can select books tailored to your family’s beliefs) but they connect children to the earth. Celebrate the seasons!
Relax Kids: Aladdin’s Magic Carpet: And other Fairy Tale Meditations for Princesses and Superheroes by Marneta Viegas
Want your child to have inner peace? Get this book. This book is perfect as a final story before bed or during those times when you and your child need to connect and re-center. Each story promotes relaxation, strengths of character, and ignites the imagination.
Note: I hate gender stereotypes but don’t be put off by the mention of princesses and superheroes in the title. The author discusses in the foreword that her characters are meant to ignite the positive masculinity and femininity in every child.
Born with a Bang: The Universe Tells Our Cosmic Story by Jennifer Morgan
This book was given to my 4-year-old son by his friend Tara with the inscription, “This book will blow your mind.” My sons response: “It did Mommy, it did.”
The quintessential children’s story of why we must conserve our environment; how things can start off so simply, go so wrong, and how we are all connected. Of course, all done through the silly and entertaining tongue and imagination of a classic Dr. Suess book.
This was my son’s favorite book for a long time. The story of The Sneetches is such a good one that teaches children how ridiculous, arbitrary and cruel social exclusion and trying to fit in can be. This should be a prerequisite for entry into public school- a definite must read.
What Baby Needs by Dr. Sears
When I was pregnant with my second child my husband and I knew we wanted our son to be involved in the entire process of bringing our new baby into the world, and into the fold of our family. We wanted him to feel as if this baby belonged to him, just as much as he belonged to us. We wanted to prepare him through the lens of our family values. I was so grateful when I found Baby on the Way and What Baby Needs by Sears. As the founders of the modern Attachment Parenting movement, the Sears books for big brother or sister include aspects of our parenting that most sibling books (when you can find them at all) do not, like breastfeeding. While preparing for the arrival of our new baby these books were Skyler’s top choices for night-night stories. He excitedly looked forward to his role in caring for his new little brother. I highly recommend these books for mamas with a Baby on the Way, and one already in your arms.
You’re All My Favorites by Sam McBratney
I don’t love the flow of the writing in this book- it is a little awkward- but we love the message. It illustrated through the lovable bear family characters how we could love both him and his new baby brother in a special way. It put to ease any insecurities he may have had as the bear siblings work through theirs. When any emotional situations come up that may trigger feelings of emotional insecurity, I can just say, “You’re all my favorites.” and I can see the assurance the book provides wash over him.
The Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne
This is the book series that introduced my son to and made him fall in love with chapter books in kindergarten. They are about a brother and sister who travel to various times and places throughout history using a magic tree house to become Master Librarians. Magical, adventurous, suspenseful, historical, educational, exciting… these books have it all!
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