I’ve gone to the dark side and am now the owner of an e-book reader. (James gave me a Kindle for Mother’s Day. I had no idea that Mother’s Day is the new birthday, either. Bar just raised unreasonably high for Father’s Day.) Anyway. I’ve since queued up more Brooklyn Public Library books than I can probably read and I’m terribly pleased about the whole neat package.
Rest assured that I’ve not given up on books bound and printed. It’s just that the personal library that I’m expanding these days is most often filled with books of the illustrated variety. I can hardly walk by the bookstores in our neighborhood without stopping in. And I rarely leave empty handed. Here’s to maximalist children’s book collections.
Since it’s been a while since I last wrote about our favorite children’s books and since there’s nothing I enjoy reading more than a list of what other people are reading, I thought a little update might be in order. All of our original favorites are still going strong, but we’ve added some books that are brand-spanking new and a few that are older than the hills but new to us and we love them all.
Most of the books feature little girls and children of color because goodness knows we need to see more children’s books with all kinds of humans.
Herewith, a few favorites:
Last Stop on Market Street (Indiebound)
This total delight tells the story of a little boy’s bus ride to a soup kitchen with his grandmother. The prose is sweet and poetic and the portrayal of city life and general good cheer is refreshing and inspiring.
There is a Tribe of Kids (Indiebound)
I can’t get enough of the beautiful watercolors in this brand new book. So many cute kiddos, so many cute animals. Faye is totally smitten with this simple and sweet book.
This is Sadie (Indiebound)
This is one of my very favorites. The illustrations are just beautiful and the story celebrates imagination and resourcefulness.
The Bear and the Piano (Indiebound)
I don’t always go in for the anthropomorphized animals in children’s books, but this piano-playing bear kind of got me. Plus I get a good chuckle from the illustrations which seem to indicate that Brooklyn is a forest just across the river from the bright lights of Manhattan.
Blueberries for Sal (Indiebound)
The original children’s book to showcase a little girl who isn’t all princessed out. I love little Sal and baby bear and all those kuplunking blueberries. The prose is old-fashioned, and the story a bit repetitive, but that’s probably why I love this classic.
If You Ever Want to Bring a Piano to the Beach, Don’t (Indiebound)
I don’t really know. Faye loves to imitate the faces made by the plucky main character in this story and I love watching her do it. Silly and funny and with a final message that encourages kids to make creative use of the things around them.
The rhyming. Can’t get enough of the rhyming. The other day we walked up the stairs to our apartment reciting the book from memory with Faye filling in the blanks. To the tiger in the zoo, Madeline just said…pooh-pooh!
Sidewalk Flowers (Indiebound)
This wordless story is a favorite around here. We mostly scan each page intently for signs of doggies or squirrels. I love the cityscapes in this book and of course the notion of walking around town making tiny bouquets from sidewalk flowers has me all kinds of happy.
What about you guys? Favorites of the moment or all time? Share!
More about my general thoughts about bedtime reading and an initial list of favorites, right here.
For the curious: Faye’s polka-dotty pajamas.
Faye might be a wee bit young for this one just now, but check out The True Story of the Three Little Pigs (as told by Alexander T. Wolf). HILARIOUS, you’ll enjoy it just as much as she will.
Oh man, loved this book as a kid! Might have to have grammy bring her copy when she visits next!
Oh man, loved this book as a kid! Might have to have grammy bring her copy when she visits next!
If you like scanning pictures for things, there is ashtrays Richard Scarry! Classic and I have great memories of his books from when I was a kid. I’ve got a little bit who is big time into trucks and all things construction, so “goodnight, goodnight construction site” I’d a favorite and we love the rhymes. Same with “stream train, dream train” by the same author/illustrator. We sent Madeline back to the library and we’re so sad to see her go we might be buying one of our own.
Ah, indeed. Loved these as a kid but recently took another look and nearly died at the sexism! All the men doing construction and all the women doing housework. Ack!
I hate that discovery, Erin! I remember pouring over the magical pictures of Twelve Dancing Princesses (Ruth Sanderson version). I can hardly stomach the first page: ranking the daughters on their beauty and letting a prince pick his bride. Eek! I loved to read Possum’ Come A Knockin’ to my youngest sister (10 years younger), but same story on gender roles. That one is so much fun to read though, that I might still read it to our child when we visit my parents’ house, even if it doesn’t make it into our personal collection.
Oh man, totally. We loved that book growing up, too, though ours was the Marianna Mayer version! Balanced out a bit my our very tattered version of Tatterhood! 😉
My almost one year old boy LOVES Dear Zoo but it bothers me so much that every animal in there is male. I’ve started switching the pronouns to “she/her” every other read.
But, look! http://fusion.net/story/228845/richard-scarry-best-word-book-ever-changes/
It’s a start 🙂
Ha! Amazing. The copy in our local bookstore that I always see is definitely an original (one of the gigantic ones you sometimes still see in doctor’s waiting rooms!).
the book Miss Rumphius was one of my all time favorites, and also How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World!
Love Miss Rumphius!! Don’t know the other one! To check out!
I love this post so much! I second maximalist children’s book collections! What could be better than to be surrounded by children’s books? We have a lot of books with counting and numbers (and right now I’m unfortunately at work can’t recall any titles), and maybe its just because I was a little girl who LOVED math (so weird) and grew up to be an engineer, but I love teaching my little guy math stuff at night along with reading beautiful stories!
We are Brits living abroad and miss public libraries like crazy and our suitcases are always full of books. My four and three year old love Julia Donaldson books especially the gruffalo and my one year old loves her tales from acorn wood series. Excited to check out your recommendations!
My son also loves to just look at books and announce loudly and repetitively which items he sees. So we have starred renting the I-Spy books and the Eyewitness books (in topics he loves- trains, flying machines, ocean, birds, etc.) There is so much to see in those books, plus they’re great to train observational skills. Aaaaand maybe it gives Mama a break from reading the same other books aloud.
Aren’t children’s books the best! A couple of our favorites are by Peter Brown – Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, The Curious Garden. Also recently discovered Kate Messner’s books – Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt and Over and Under the Snow.
We read Madeline so many times when Kate was a baby that I could recite it from heart. She also loved One Monkey Too Many which had a silly story line and fun pictures. However, now we read Little Golden Books – the Star Wars editions. LOL. I can’t wait until she’s old enough to start the Little House series and Anne of Green Gables.
We love the book The Friday Nights of Nana. It’s a bout a Jewish grandmother and her granddaughter getting ready for Sedar. The illustrations are the most beautiful I have seen and I like how it shows inter generational relationships, the importance of weekly rhythm, and how nourishing food and a welcoming home can be. My newly turned 2 year old requests it over and over and I don’t mind reading it over and over
One book we have loved is In the Town All Year Round. The author’s last name is Berner. Its mostly wordless. You can follow the tale of a handful of main characters from frame to frame as they go about their day in each season. My kids are now 6 and 9 years (we’ve had it since my oldest was about 2 or 3) and it still gets pulled out and re-visited.
My daughter was a huge fan of Madeline being red-haired and in the low percentages for growth (however very big in so many was like Madeline!) We love “Madeline Says Merci” which is a great way to get littles thinking and having nice manners. Recently my daughter brought home “Boris and Amos” by William Steig. I was in full tears at the end. It is a beautiful story of a Mouse and Whale having nothing in common but becoming friends and helping each other out in need. Beautiful story but it might be a bit long for a toddler.
My kids’ current favorites around here:
Red Knit Cap Girl books by Naoko Stoop (I was a fan and bought Red Knit Cap Girl art prints to decorate my girlie’s nursery before there were any books. We’ve had SO much fun following the journey of Red Knit Cap Girl and feel an unreasonable sense of ownership because we’ve loved her for so long.)
Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin
Good Night, Good night, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett (The illustrations are like treasure hunts; so many details to spot!)
Thanks for the post! I’m excited to check out Last Stop on Market Street, I haven’t heard of that. Two of my favorite books for city girls are Come On Rain! a book about a little girl living in NYC on a hot summer’s day waiting for the rain (BEAUTIFUL illustrations), and Madlenka’s Dog a book about a little girl that lives ‘in an apartment, on a block, in a neighborhood, in a city’. She gets to travel around and meet all the neighborhood characters and talk to them about her invisible dog. It’s written and illustrated by Peter Sis so the illustrations are incredibly whimsical.
The Snowy Day (by Ezra Jack Keats) is one of my very favorites. “He walked with his toes pointing out, like this. He walked with his toes pointing in, like that.” It’s so quiet and lovely.
Also, this is way too far in advance, but I can’t help it – when Faye is eventually old enough for chapter books, I highly, highly recommend the Redwall series (by Brian Jacques), The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (by Avi), and Ella Enchanted (by Gail Carson Levine – nothing like its awful movie adaptation from a few years ago). They are the BEST.
PS. I’m a loyal reader of your blog but have never commented… but I just had to for books!!
My daughter is roughly the same age as Faye and she loves quite a few of the books on your above list – especially Last Stop on Market Street. Also in heavy rotation at the moment:
– Waiting, by Kevin Henkes (which I heard her reciting nearly word for word this morning while looking at a book of London street maps – toddlers are hilarious and amazing sometimes, no?!)
– Cat at Night, by Dahlov Ipcar
– Round and Round and Square, by Fredun Shapur
– How Little Lori Visited Times Square, by Amos Vogel and Maurice Sendak
– Do You See What I See? and Do You Hear What I Hear?, by Helen Borten
– Pelle’s New Suit and Peter in Blueberry Land, by Elsa Beskow
I’m a children’s librarian, so I obviously love this! A great wordless one that has been a big hit in my house is In the Town All Year Round, a German import. Also, Goodnight Gorilla is good at this age too. Have fun!
Love my Kindle! It’s the only way I can read in bed (backlight) now since our baby is still sleeping in our room. I also love the convenience of ordering library books and having them “delivered” to the Kindle without having to put the baby in the car and drive to the library. Old school things are wonderful, but that Kindle has definitely helped me keep up my reading habit post baby 🙂
Love these lists! I’ve gotten so many great recommendations from your site, Cup of Jo and Hither and Thither. Thanks for sharing and helping me grow my child’s library!
Thanks for these suggestions! The library is the one place where my daughter can ask to get something and I can always say, “Yes! We can get that!” Also, our library has a pet tarantula. That is probably a draw for her, too. We are huge fans of Jan Brett’s and Ezra Jack Keats’ books, and Maurice Sendak’s _Chicken Soup with Rice_, and I would also strongly recommend Gerda Muller’s Spring/Summer/Autumn/Winter series. They are not as well-known in the United States, and they have no words, but my daughter LOVES to read (and re-read) them. She makes up stories about the children in the books, gives them names and relationships, and generally “imagines” a different story for them every time. They are barely narrative, but rather more glimpses into the lives of children (who live in pretty, naturalistic places) through the seasons. And the illustrations are so beautiful.
I’ll second the Gerda Muller seasons books! My daughter reads and re-reads them as well, and I love how simple but evocative the images are, telling the story of a season as it passes.
I love this post. You should write one like this every once in a while including what picture books y’all are currently loving. Here are some of my favorites:
‘The Dark’ by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen
‘Sam and Dave Dig a Hole’ by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen (Faye would like the doggie in this one 😉
‘All the World’ by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee (this one is so calm and meditative.)
‘A Sick Day for Amos McGee’ by Philip Stead, illustrated by Erin Stead
‘Caps for Sale’ by Esphyr Slobodkina
‘Fortunately (Unfortunately)’ by Remy Charlip
My son is now 10 and I miss the sweet picture books. We still read together nightly but it’s more along the lines of Harry Potter and sports-themed books. Some oldie, but goodie faves from his toddler days were “Ferdinand,” “Harold & the Purple Crayon,” “Caps for Sale,” and lots of “Curious George.” My sister in-law’s mother was a 90 year old retired children’s librarian when my son was born, she’s who introduced us to “Caps for Sale” which was her all-time favorite.
We’re big fans of Knuffle Bunny, Knuffle Bunny Too, and Knuffle Bunny Free. And as my kids have just turned 1, by “we”, I really mean, my husband and me 🙂
YES! I love everything about this comment 🙂
Have you read ‘Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed’ also by Mo Willems? It is adorable and spunky about a naked mole rat who wants to wear clothes. Basically the same ethos as Man Repeller if you read that blog. Hehe! Not to mention that ‘Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed’ is full of my favorite color: pale pink.
All Mo Willems is magic! I love it, since it wasn’t around when I was a kid– so it feels like a whole new discovery for me as well. Elephants and Piggy are amazing! The entire series- and Mo Willems got a Kennedy Center grant and made a small musical from the series. Our children’s theatre in Portland did it and I loved it as much as my daughter. The pigeon books are hilarious as well.
Oh man. I don’t have children but I bought “Last Stop on Market Street” for that eventuality. This is a fantastic list.
Another one that’s perhaps a bit old for Faye, but I recently came across a wonderful book by Kyo Maclear called Virginia Wolf. The illustrations are so lovely, and it deals with sadness and depression in a really gentle and beautiful way. And, of course, it’s full of allusions to Virginia Woolf (but will still be meaningful to a child who can’t quite catch the allusions!)
To end the day, we love, love, loved:
A Good Night Walk by Elisha Cooper ( all titles and illustration by this author are excellent!)
All The World – Liz Garton Scanlon (Perhaps my favorite of all time.)
(For a laugh…Baby Brains by Simon James)
What a sweet list of books, I’m so excited to check them out. We also have had Blueberries for Sale on heavy rotation.
Erin if you really enjoy a beautiful watercolor book, Extra Yarn is a favorite of ours. We have also read our daughter (6mo.) Little Owls Night as her bedtime book for months now.
Thanks for sharing!
This is Sadie and Last Stop on Market Street are two of my favorites. There are so many good ones!
We love just about anything written/illustrated by Kevin Henkes (a fellow Wisconsinite!) Faves are Kitten’s First Full Moon and Owen. Also loving right now: The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton, And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano and No, David! by David Shannon– a really fun, silly read. Thanks always for the great recs!
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch is a great book and I loved it when I was a little girl. My son loves it too!
Yes!! Loved this one, too. Recently tried to order at my local bookstore and their supplier was out of stock! The hunt continues!
I want to second the recommendation of Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett. We stumbled upon it at the library a year or two ago and even after reading it almost daily since then, I’ve never tired of it. And I love that Jon Klassen’s illustrations are so distinctive that my bigger kids can now identify his work when we pick up other books he’s illustrated.
So great! Faye just loves I Want My Hat Back. I see a trip to the bookstore in my future…
Favorite book of all time: Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole. Paper Bag Princess gets all the glory, but I credit this one book with my early feminist education for sure!
I also recently purchased “A is for Activist” board book by Innosanto Nagara for both of my nephews (who are under the age of 1– they will grow into it!) If you are lefty-identified in any way (and as a new reader of RMTL, I get the sense that you are) it has the most amazing movement and liberation-focused language + it teaches the alphabet. Score!
Lastly, I recently purchased a beautifully illustrated and bilingual copy of My Name Is/Me llamo Celia: The Life of Celia Cruz by Monica Brown. My partner and his brother lead a salsa band here in Austin where we live. We don’t even have kids yet but this children’s biographical book was too stunning not to squirrel away for the right season of life. His brother is engaged and I know they plan to have kids soon enough…so perhaps it will see a baby shower sooner rather than later. 😉
Who you calling Lefty? Juuuuust kidding! Off to browse!
Haha–if you’re the kettle, I am most definitely the pot! Have fun!
SG is REALLY into pirates these days. There is a really funny little book called Pirate Girl we love by Cornelia Funke. We also really like The Mermaid and the Shoe by KG Campbell, all of the Angelina Ballerina books, and lots of Go Dog Go. We also are signed up for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, which is a charity Dolly Parton initially started in her home county in Tennessee where the illiteracy rate was high. She mails high-quality, age appropriate books once a month until your child is 5. This may be too many books for your minimalistic approach, but it’s a really cool way to get some new reads in the house! Also, it has turned my child into a huge Dolly fan. She says, “She’s beautiful, Mommy,” and forces me to listen to “Jolene” in the car every day to and from preschool. Go figure.
Also, follow up comment to the above: we have been given no less that 4 copies of Blueberries for Sal (in addition to my childhood copy) since my child’s name is Sally…
Thanks for the list! I have a 1 and 3 year old and we also love:
My Big Barefoot Book of Wonderful Words by: Sophie Fatus
Sometimes I Feel Like A Fox by:
Journey by: Aaron Becker
All three are amazing and gender equal 🙂
Also… Rad American Women A-Z…
Never too early!
Thank you for this recommendation! Requesting from the library right now!
Okay. Write these down because you will love them when Faye is a little bit older. “The Gardener” and “The Library” by Sarah Stewart; illustrated by David Small. My kids could not get enough of them, and neither can I. Now I’m just waiting for grandkids so I can introduce these all over again.
Have you ever gone to Bank Street Bookstore on the upper west side? They just moved to a different location, a few blocks down from the grad school / children’s school but it is an amazing independent children’s book store.
My kids are 15 and 18 now and I so miss those days of visiting the library and coming home with a big stack of books to read!
Faye is still a little young to grasp the concepts fully, but the illustrations are great and it’s NEVER too early to expose little kids to smart little girls…
That being said, I highly recommend “Rosie Revere, Engineer” by Andrea Beaty (and also “Iggy Peck, Architect”) for the silliness mixed with inspiring ingenuity. Rosie Revere is such a great character for young girls and boys to see, especially since girls are often discouraged from pursuing hobbies (thus careers!) in tech and engineering. My godson got this from me when he turned 4 — now he’s 5 and it’s still his favorite book to read. Looking forward to this author releasing more books!
A really sweet one we love: What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamanda. x
the gardner and the library by sarah stewart. i can’t not cry reading the gardner. i’ve tried.
Check out the Bharat Babies books! The company is owned by a fabulous fellow mama and the books hit on points that are important to you.
I love Use Your Imagination (But Be Careful What You Wish For!)… can’t remember who it’s by… as well as all of Emily Gravett’s and Herve Tullet’s books!
“a bit lost” by chris haughton.
also his other books “oh, no, george” and “shh! we have a plan” are absolutely amazing and some of my daughter’s (2 years old) favourites. we have been reading them since she was one.
and lately she feels very attracted to dr. seuss… “one fish, two fish…” etc.
and of course: “the gruffalo”!
my daughter is growing up bilingual (in austria), so we are also reading a lot of german children’s books,too, but i must say i prefer english and american books so far.
congratulations on your blog! i look forward to reading it every day.
warm wishes from vienna,
Anything by Anthony Browne, in particular Piggybook. And also the Miffy books, so simple but they love them.
I have a serious love of children’s books, but no kids. A stack of books is my default gift for all kids (and most adults!).
A few go tos:
Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin
Just Us Women by Jeannette Caines
The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munch
Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran
anything by Sandra Boynton
The Paper Bag Princess- my favorite! It takes the classic damsel in distress theme and turns it on it’s head 🙂
Agreed, love this one!
I too love children’s books and we have hundreds. My kids are 19 months and 5 and here are our favorites: Grandfather Twilight (why is this not more popular?! Way better than Goodnight Moon in my opinion!), anything by Allison Jay-kids just love looking at her pictures which are full of clues of things to come-and anything illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski. Owl Moon, Wait til the Moon is Full, Make Way for Ducklings, Hug, Gerda Muller’s seasons books, Elsa Beskow books (discovered at Acorn 🙂 ), Sometimes I Like To Curl Up Into a Ball, Lost and Found. There are so many great ones, and I’m making a list from all of the suggestions here!
We just bought and love The Princess and The Pony by Kate Beaton. Also Welcome to Mamoko by Aleksandra Mizielinska is another wordless follow stories around from page to page kind of book. My son loves the Sandra Boyton books because they are usually a song like Barnyard Dance and Snuggle Puppy. Funny thing is Eric Stolz the actor sang that song on a Sandra Boyton album and he has a lovely voice.
Anything by Shirley Hughes or Patricia Polacco. Check at your library as many are out of print. There is a sequel to Blueberries for Sal. It is called One Morning in Maine.
Yes! Grew up with Patricia Polacco—Just Plain Fancy!!! And big fan of One Morning in Maine—just not in our personal collection yet!
Older..1999 but worth having..loving..the series which begins with Wild Child written by Lynn Plourd…amazing illustrations by Greg Couch..the four books cover the four seasons….Winter Waits..Springs Sprung and Summer’s vacation..my kids liked the first two best..me too..but they are really wonderful..the more you look the more you see kind of books..fun words to say…again and again…
my boys loved all kinds of books, even Grey’s Anatomy, and the youngest had to have several books read every night and that always included Lucky The Puppy. his other favorite was a book of photos of him with various family and toys and we would talk about the photos and what we were doing in them. it became a story that changed as he grew up. Jan Brett has retold some wonderful classic tales as well as written her own books and it is the illustrations, especially in Berlioz The Bear, that make them favorites. also – We’re Going On A Bear Hunt – so much fun to make all the sounds. having a youngster around is such a good excuse to read children’s books again!
Where The Wild Things Are and the Eloise books!
Just put all of these books on hold at our library and can’t wait to read them! We love Julia Donaldson books especially The Gruffalo. All the classics you mentioned in your first post and really like Eric Carle. I love that you also make sure to read books with diversity and girls. I am trying to do the same for my son as well. Love your blog Erin!
When green becomes tomatoes! Best book of decade dare I say and just came out!
Oh and swatch the girl who loved color ☺
Mine are 3 & 6 and we love:
The Lion and the Little Red Bird
The Story of the Snow Children
The Princess in the Forest
The Tales of Tiptoes Lightly
Thank you for sharing!
I love the old Winnie the Pooh tales, Where the Wild Things Are, What Do You Say Dear (I choose to take the gender roles as parody because *Sendak), The Quiet Book… So many. I love libraries. They help us discover new favorites!
Fun to note- Last Stop on Market Street is the first every picture book to win the Newberry award! I have a book club for my 5th graders where we read tons of books and try to predict the Newberry winner and we were all blown away when it won- we never saw it coming! And while I’ll have 10 year olds that will tell you The War that Saved my Life, Fuzzy Mud, Stella By Starlight and/or Circus Mirandus were robbed– I think it’s fun that Market Street got to take the award home this year. 🙂
Also- Frog and Toad came back into my life about the time my daughter was 2 and those ones hold up to the test of time wonderfully. Also, My Father’s Dragon. All Mo Willems (Elephant and Piggy!!!!!!!). One Morning in Maine- oh that one is so sweet, I could look at the illustrations for hours. Little Bear and Bread and Tea for Francis are some fun older ones as well. So much fun!
Around here, this wordless story is a favorite. We mostly look for evidence of dogs or squirrels on each page. I adore the cityscapes in this book, and the idea of walking around town making tiny bouquets out of street flowers makes me giddy. Thank you.
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