Both of my kids are off at school these days and it’s meant that at the end of the day they don’t have quite the stamina for the multi-book bedtimes that we’ve been used to. More than once this fall, both kids have been softly snoring by the time the six o’clock bells chime across the street. Still, reading picture books before bed remains the most beloved time of our day. Lately we’ve been reading lots of simple, quiet books. Just by chance, or perhaps not at all, lots of these titles follow kids on simple walks around their worlds, pointing out everyday magic, or making it themselves. A lot of these books hit the sweet spot of capturing the comfort of routine and the thrill of discovery. Childhood, in a nutshell, in other words. I hope they offer a bit of quiet comfort to your families. And, as always, I want to know what you’ve been reading, too.
+ DOOR, words and pictures by Jihyeon Lee
A little bit strange, a lot-a-bit magical, this wordless story is transporting and fanciful and just a lot of fun to look through. My kids love mimicking the facial expressions of the make-believe characters and imagining what they’re up to.
+ WINDOWS, words by Julia Denos, illustrations by E.B. Goodale
This book has been a favorite of ours since last winter. The story follows a little kid on an evening walk around their urban neighborhood. Walking around the city at dusk and getting to peek into other people’s lives is the best thing about this time of year and our ever shorter days. This book helps remind us of that magic.
+ CITY MOON, words by Rachael Cole, illustrations by Blanca Gomez
We’ve reached full-on moon mania with Silas. In addition to our beloved and oft-mentioned THE MOON IS GOING TO ADDY’S HOUSE, this book is a near nightly read for us. It follows a parent and child out for a nighttime walk, spotting the folks in their neighborhood and, of course, looking out for a bright full moon.
+ TODAY, words and pictures by Julie Morstad
I love the simultaneous sense of comfort and possibility that this book gives little kids. It’s a perfect before bedtime book, especially for little ones getting used to new routines and looking for a bit of choice in the matter.
+ GROW, words by Cynthia Platt, illustrations by Olivia Holden
A kid, a garden, and a whole community of people working to make a tired place in a gray city a whole lot greener. I have a soft spot for city books, as you can see, and this one is especially nice.
+ YOU BELONG HERE, words by M.H. Clark, illustrations by Isabelle Arsenault
Another lovely read for kids who might be experiencing changes, or tumult, or who are just in a need of a reminder that they’re right where they’re supposed to be.
+ BACKYARD FAIRIES, words and pictures by Pheobe Wahl
A big dose of magic, if you need some. (And you do.)
+ HOMEMADE LOVE, words by bell hooks, illustrations by Shane W. Evans
This is such a sweet reminder, for parents and kids, of the love kids should feel at home. We’ve been so lucky to have a really smooth and decidedly fun transition to full-day school for both of our kids this year, but it’s nice to have a simple reminder of the particular reassurances of home and family.
+ TINY PERFECT THINGS, words by M.H. Clark, illustrations by Madeline Kloepper
This is my very favorite new book. It perfectly captures the joy that is kids finding treasures on their weekday walks. A red bottle cap, a yellow leaf… It’s been the perfect thing to read this fall, but the illustrations are delightfully seasonless. It’s Faye’s very favorite right now, too.
Now your turn! I need to fill up my library bag!
Plus: lots more book recommendations in case you need them!
PS. We borrow many of our books from our public library, but when we buy new books, we love to always support our local bookstores—Stories Bookshop, Books Are Magic, Greenlight Bookstore, and Community Bookstore, to name a few. I’ve provided links above to where you can find these titles from independent bookstores near you.
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This fall we discovered the picture book trilogy by Aaron Becker – Journey, Quest, and Return. These wordless books are beautifully illustrated and immerse you in an imaginative story. My 3 year old loves having me “read” each page and help me spot all the details. And as with the best kids books, I enjoy reading them as much as he does.
If you have any recommendations for grown ups they would be gratefully received ✨
I second that!
We love Bear and Wolf by Daniel Salmieri.
Yes! Another lovely one!
The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith.
(From an adult without any kids, who still reads children’s books because they are wise and lovely.)
One Hundred (or One Thousand) Things To Spot – both great for different ages.
“A Big Mooncake for Little Star” is perfect for your sweet little moon man. Violet is obsessed with “Would You Rather” by John Burningham right now. “Today” is still one of our favorites after James introduced it to us and got clobbered by kids trying to pick out their favorite hairstyles 🙂
Yay for Indiebound links! Thank you. (I understand the convenience and need[?] for Amazon links, but like this so much more.)
And more importantly, thank you for all the great recommendations!
We’ve been loving City Moon, and also The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse and Extra Yarn, both by Jon Klassen and Mac Barnett.
We’ve been into Taro Gomi lately – my girl loves buses so we read Bus Stops every night, and we got The Great Day on our last library run. Second long-time favorite is Corduroy. When I need a treat we read Where the Wild Things are and our Jon Klassen hat books 🙂 I’m so excited to do your holiday book advent calendar this year!!
Anything written or illustrated by Claire Nivola (my beloved childhood neighbor and wildly talented artist). My favorites of hers are The Friday Nights of Nana; Orani; Life in the Ocean: The Story of Sylvia Earle; and Elizabeth. Her stories and illustrations will not disappoint!
I love when you do the Bedtime Stories series! I recently found out I’m pregnant (!!), and I love children’s literature, so I know I’ll be referencing your posts often!
Some books I recently bought from Brimful Toys were
– Everyone Eats (- Julia Kuo)
– Little Owl Lost (-Chris Haughton)
– Mister Pip (- Thereza Rowe)
I have not looked paged through these yet, but the excerpts on their website look adorable. They have some other cute looking options too.
Another one I’ve seen that looks neat is Actual Size (- Steve Jenkins).
A hilarious one to check out (it might be more fun for adults than kids!) is The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Dewalt.
One more neat looking option I saw at Books Are Magic (last year) was the Story Box: Create Your Own Fairytales. I think there are other varieties of the story boxes too!
Any book illustrated by Julie Morstad is pretty high on my family’s list! My daughter also loves Beatrix Potter classics in part because they are “Simone size”. She totes them around the house in a small shopping bag.
We love In My Heart by Jo Witek, which is teaching little ones about big emotions (what colour is your heart today?) & Zen Shorts by Jon J Muth, about a very wise panda who tells fables with beautiful messages. Thanks for your recommendations — they are on my list. We are in the trenches here with lots of uncertainty about days away at school. Hopefully some of these stories might help!
We just came across Anatole by Eve Titus. So fun! Old too. She wrote a few. My 6 year old is loving them!
I love this series, Erin! (Childless children’s bookseller here).
2018 picture books I’m especially loving are The Honeybee (Hall/Arsenault), Hello Lighthouse (Blackall), The Elephant (Jenni Desmond’s latest in her endangered species series), What Do You Do With a Voice Like That? (Weatherford/Holmes – about Barbara Jordan!), The Dress and the Girl (Andros/Morstad), and Ode to an Onion (Giardino/Sala – a moment in Pablo Neruda’s life). Since you and your fam are into city books, I’d especially recommend Thank You, Omu! (Mora) also!
Since you mentioned indie bookstores: putting in a plug for one of my very favorites, the Eric Carle Museum bookshop in MA—they have a huge picture book selection and an online store!
Kissed by the Moon, by Alison Lester
Where the wild things are, by Maurice Sendak
My Place (Australian), by Donna Rawlins and Nadia Wheatley
There’s a sea in my bedroom, by Jane Tanner
Lost and Found, and The Great Paper Caper, by Oliver Jeffers
Mix it up, by Hervé Tullet
We love Marta Altes work! So, I would recomend you specially : “I am an artist” and “Little monkey”.
My two year old is loving them!
Ugh, this is such a good list. Thank you!
I wonder why you switched your nightstands?
Mostly because Silas pulled it onto himself several times (by some miracle not shattering the crystal lamp), but also because I can hide more books in the crate!
These are all great suggestions. As we delve into the holidays, I’m trying to offer some different perspectives on traditional stories. We’re in the very white Midwest, so my son is inundated with the same white, Christian middle class perspective in most places. “The night before Christmas” by Rachel Isadora is set in Africa and Santa Claus is black, which has led to good bedtime conversations with my three year old I also got “Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message” in lieu of stereotypical thanksgiving “pilgrim and Indian” stories. Other favorites lately include Jabari Jumps and The Barefoot Book of Children
Yes, so important! If you need more examples, I compiled a bunch of holiday books last year that might be helpful! As well as this list of books by Indigenous authors!
Before Morning by Joyce Sidman was my favorite library find last winter. Gorgeous illustrations and spare, lovely words capture the magic of a time-pausing, snow-day snowfall. Also a city book! I feel like it could be set in your neighborhood 🙂
Yes! Love that one so much! I included it in this list, too! https://readingmytealeaves.com/2017/11/a-book-advent-calendar.html
I just read Adrian Simcox Does Not Have a Horse by Marcy Campbell to a second grade class. They loved it. It’s a sweet story about friendship and imagination.
Florette by Anna Walker
The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfield
Before We Eat by Pat Brisson
Quiet by Tomi DePaola
Everything You Need For a Treehouse by Carter Higgins
My Abuelita by tony Johnston
The Illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts
Woody, Hazel and Little Pip by Elsa Beskow
And sooo many more. I love children’s books!
I just adore children’s books and love reading time together with my son. He’s 18 months, his current favourites s are…
– The Storm Whale by Benji Davis
– Alan’s Big Scary Teeth by Jarvis
– Maisy Goes to the Museum by Lucy Cousins, the whole series really
– I Am So Brave by Stephen Krensky
– Apples for Little Fox by Ekaterina Trukhan
– Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson
I love all of Jan Brett’s illustrated books. She has a new one just in time for Christmas: The Snowy Nap.
Another vote for Alan’s Big Scary Teeth! I also love:
– Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty (and all of the books in the series)
– Alphonse, That Is Not OK To Do by Daisy Hirst – a lovely book about a girl whose toddler brother keeps wrecking her stuff
– Any of Chris Haughton’s books, particularly A Bit Lost
– Wow Said the Owl by Tim Hopgood, which is lovely if you’re looking for books about nature
‘This Is Sadie’, Sara O’Leary. For a while, my daughter liked this so much she could practically recite it off by heart – and I didn’t mind a bit! It’s still one of my favourites. It’s about a girl who loves stories and the power of her imagination.
Yes! One of our favorites, too! Included in one of my very first lists!
Lovely to find this here! So many beautiful books on this list.
I’ve been meaning to recommend Marianne Dubuc’s Le lion et l’oiseau to you. I’m sure it’s translated into English too but it’s very few words and a beautiful story of friendship… She’s a Montreal artist and she has other great kids books including Les aventures de Facteur Souris with great illustrations and worlds. http://www.mariannedubuc.com/ . Her books are ones we continually go back to with my two boys 3 and 4…
Love your blog and appreciate your sharing your political and social activism too!
We have been fans of Dan Santat’s, Beekle for some time, along with Oliver Jeffers, Here We Are. Recently we checked out “The Remember Balloons” by Jessie Oliveros and it is a beautiful book – both artistically and in meaning. Thanks for sharing your recent library haul.
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