You know how it goes. Your kids find a book they are crazy about and you read it over and over and over and over, every day for a week or more. All three of my kids have gone through “favorite book” phases and some are more enjoyable for me than others. (Thomas the Train? No, thank you.)
I love books and I love reading out loud to my kids. All three of them genuinely enjoy being read to, and I’ll do anything I can to encourage their interest in books—even if that means reading the same book again and again. And while we parents might groan, our kids actually benefit from the repetition. An article on Babble.com says the familiarity helps them retain new words in their vocabulary. They also know what to expect, and “hearing the words of a familiar book helps your child settle in and relax, and it makes a great cue for sleep.” (And parents everywhere say, “Amen!” right?)
We have many children’s picture books in our family library, but here are my top ten favorites that I enjoy reading over and over to my kids.
1. “Adèle & Simon” by Barbara McClintock
This beautifully illustrated picture book is about a brother and sister in Paris. Simon is always losing something (much to his big sister’s chagrin) so there is an object to look for on every page. I’m a bit of a Francophile at heart, so I love the Parisian feel of the book and the landmarks in the illustrations. “Adèle & Simon in America” and “Lost and Found: Adèle & Simon in China” are just as wonderful and have the same running theme of Simon losing something on every page.
2. “The Bear Snores On” by Karma Wilson
The rhythm and rhyming in this story is just fabulous. My kids enjoy chiming in and “reading” with me because they know the story so well. And there are more books in the series! “Bear Stays Up for Christmas” would make a great Christmas gift.
3. “The Little House” by Virginia Lee Burton
A sweet little pink house is the star of this book. I love reading the part where she is found and rescued by descendants of her original family. We are big fans of Virginia Lee Burton and it was hard to choose a favorite. “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel” and “Katy and the Big Snow” are right up there with “The Little House”.
4. “The Mitten” by Jan Brett
No family library would be complete without at least one Jan Brett masterpiece. She is such a gifted illustrator. When I read her books to my kids, I always find some new detail in the pictures that I haven’t noticed before. “The Mitten” is a classic story about a little boy that accidentally drops one of his mittens in the snow. “The Hat” is a similar story with a little girl, and “The Umbrella” gives the story a Costa Rican twist.
5. “The Seven Silly Eaters” by Mary Ann Hoberman
Some friends gave me this when I was expecting my first child. It has been a family favorite ever since! It’s written in rhyming verse and is so fun to read out loud. My kids are pretty picky eaters, so I definitely sympathize with Mrs. Peters and her Silly Eaters in the story.
6. “Now One Foot, Now the Other” by Tomie dePaola
Tomie dePaola is a powerhouse like Jan Brett. He has written and illustrated dozens of charming children’s books. “Now One Foot, Now the Other” is a touching story about a little boy and his grandfather. My kids love Tomie dePaola’s Mother Goose collection, and he also has a “Book of Bible Stories”.
7. “Building Our House” by Jonathan Bean
If you have truck-crazy kids like I do, any book with a backhoe and dump truck is a crowd-pleaser! This book is based on the author’s family, and it is so well done. I love reading this to my kids and seeing the house slowly being built and becoming a home. (I’m always so relieved for the mom in the story to finally move out of the camper into a real house again!)
8. “Blueberries for Sal” by Robert McCloskey
I don’t know what I like better—Robert McCloskey’s line drawings or his subtle humor. My youngest loves the little bear in this story, and repeating “kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk!” We also love “Make Way for Ducklings” and “Lentil”.
9. “The Circus Ship” by Chris Van Dusen
My middle child is crazy about this book. He even requested a Circus Ship theme for his birthday party last month! This is another wonderful rhyming book that is an absolute joy to read aloud. The colors are bright and exciting, and my kids love finding the hidden animals in the story. “If I Built a House” and “If I Built a Car” are favorites, too.
10. “Ox-Cart Man” by Donald Hall
I find this book so soothing. I think it’s the combination of the primitive Americana illustrations and the simplicity of the story. The book follows a family in 19th-century America, growing and making goods to sell at the market. Other favorites illustrated by Barbara Cooney include “Miss Rumphius” and “Emily”.
11. “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats
I can’t help sharing one more of our favorite authors! “Snowy Day” is a classic and perfect for the winter season. It’s a short but wonderful story, and I love the texture of Ezra Jack Keats’ illustrations. We love the other books in this series, like “Peter’s Chair” and “Whistle for Willie”. And, because it’s the Christmas season, definitely look for a copy of “Little Drummer Boy”. It’s beautiful and perfect for reading to little ones this Christmas. (P.S. Amazon Video has an animated version of “The Snowy Day” that is really cute and perfect for younger kids.)
I really could go on and on about my favorite books, and if we ever meet in person, I probably will. Reading has always been a big part of my life and it’s such a joy to share a love of reading with my kids. Let me know what your family favorites are—we always enjoy finding new books to add to our shelves!