Thursday, February 23, 2012

50 Best Children's Books

So I broke down and joined Pinterest a couple of weeks ago. It's been fun but I'm certainly not obsessed yet but it's a fun place to spend a couple of minutes getting good ideas.  

Last week I saw a pin titled "50 Best Children's Books."  I immediately re-pinned it and opened up the file ready to be inspired. (it's a PDF so I can't post it here but you can just click that link to see it)

Is that inspiring to you?   Me neither.

Not only are several of the books listed twice but I'll Love You Forever got a nod?  PUKE.  Have you read that book?  It's terrible.  And Guess How Much I Love You had the top spot?  Have you ever tried to read that to a child?  I have. All Claire will do is point out the dad and the baby bunny on every page.  She won't hear a word of the actual text.

There's a whole genre of children's books that aren't made for children at all.  They share fairly sentimental (I don't say that disparagingly--I cry at commercials) ideas that make parents reflect on parenting.  They are the kinds of books that say things that parents want to say to their children (You are Special--I'm looking at you) but they are not books that children love, like or are entertained by.

I was disappointed with this list because it had so many of those kinds of books--books parents like but kids don't.  It left me thinking, "I want a list of books for toddlers compiled by smart people who know what kids like."  And then I thought, "Wait, I know smart people who know what kids like."

So what do you say?  Will you make a list of toddler books with me?  I'll list 10 books that Claire can't live without and you tell me the books your kids can't live without.  And just to show you how honest I'm being here I'm not putting Stella Luna on the list even though I love it because Claire doesn't.  Stella Luna says something I want Claire to learn but she thinks it's boring.  But I'm also not putting the Baby Einstein book called Uh-Oh which we checked out from the library on the list because though Claire wants us to read it 10 times a day I want to poke out my eyeballs every time I read it.

In no particular order:

Olivia- Ian Falconer
Barnyard Dance- Sandra Boynton
But Not the Hippopotamus--Sandra Boynton
Goodnight Moon-Margaret Wise Brown
If You Give a Pig a Party--Laura Numeroff
Goodnight Gorilla --Peggy Rathmann
The Very Hungry Caterpiller--Eric Carle
I Ain't Gonna Paint No More--Karen Beaumont
How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight--Jane Yolen
No David--David Shannon

**I'm thinking of writing my own children's book called There are Not Enough Dish Towels in the World.   We've discovered imaginary play and suddenly we're using burp cloths as dish towels in the kitchen.
Both babies in this picture are wearing dish towels.

This baby is wearing two dish towels

This is the face Claire makes these days when you ask her to smile 


  1. Wait! Is Claire not old enough that she's seen the light of Where the Wild Things Are? Probably not. I totally agree about those I'll Love You Forever books. They kind of make me sick. I've also bought lots of children's books that I thought kids would love and they didn' is The Cherry Orchard about the maraschino cherries that escape from the soda shop when they discover they're being eaten. Not one child likes that book but I love it.
    Janie loves the idea of Stella Luna and brings it to me to read to her, but she will not sit still for the words...reluctantly, I agree with you. Maybe we should compile a list of children's books written for adults rather than children. One book I would add to the list of books for kids is Koala Lou by Mem Fox. Possum Magic might be good as well.

    What an interesting project this is....keep at it and keep writing your blog...I love reading it.

  2. Alex is obsessed with Harold and the Purple Crayon. He also loves Harry the Dirty Dog and Bread and Jam for Frances. He has streaks when he wants to read a random truck or other vehicle book relentlessly, but we always come back to the classics. Go Dog, Go is also well-loved in our house!

  3. We have loved so many!

    Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type is hilarious. Every kid knows that it's just so ridiculous that you can't help giggling. And if they don't know, then I couldn't help giggling anyway!

    Chicka Chicka Boom Boom makes me dance on the couch. My kids want to read it again and again and stare at the black eyed pea.

    We LOVEd the Toot and Puddle series by Holly Hobbie. She's still writing it, and like Olivia it's endearing little pigs. The pictures were engaging and detailed enough that my younger son was entertained while my daughter listened to the story.

    Ted Arnold has two series that have had a dual purpose in our life. The first were sort of a wide eyed morbidity (in a preschool fashion) to read and wonder about as they learn about typical idioms in the English language. (Parts) (Green Wilma)

    Second, my son is now reading them in first grade and the humor has made sounding out every word worth it to him. Love it. There are two books in both series that I know of, although there may be more by now.

    I agree with Sandra Boynton. She has a fantastic CD...if you can stand it.

    But, our favorite by far is Patricia Pollaco's Thundercake. This book helped both my older children overcome their fear of thunder. In the back of the book there is a recipe for thundercake that we would slip into the oven when we heard the storm and snuggle down while it was baking to read the story. Even now, we often hear one or the other of them say, "Thundercake!" whenever they hear a storm coming.

    There are lots of authors to check out, Steven Kellog being one of them. My kids loved Tadpole and I loved Pinkerton but they are probably a bit wordy for you right now.

    Have fun! I love books...

  4. Fun project! We love some on your list already and we'll have to try out the others. My 2 1/2 year old's recent favorites include:

    "Roar of a Snore" by Marsha Diane Arnold
    "Cool Dog, School Dog" by Deborah Heiligman
    "Llama Llama Mad at Mama" by Anna Dewdney
    "Hilda Must be Dancing" by Karma Wilson

  5. I am going to disagree with Sallee (My Wife) and Joan (Mother-in-law) I love the book, "I'll Love you Forever", but maybe that is just because my mother gave each of her a children a copy when we graduated from High School.

  6. So true! I'm excited to see everyone's kid's favorites...

    We like a lot of the ones already listed like Harold and the Purple Crayon, Barnyard Dance, But Not the Hippopotamus...

    We also love:

    Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb - Al Perkins (Scott's Favorite)
    The Going to Bed Book - Sandra Boynton
    Five Little Chicks - Nancy Tafuri
    Dr. Seuss's ABC: An Amazing Alphabet Book
    I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean- Kevin Sherry (I don't know if I necessarily endorse this book, it is kind of weird at the end... but Scott loves it)

  7. Hey Sallee! This is a great post and I hope you don't mind if I put in my two cents...
    I totally agree. I can't stand Guess How Much I Love You. It is a jumbled mouthful when read aloud and it makes me sad that the daddy rabbit is constantly one-upping his little son...what kind of lesson does that teach? We always change the words when we read it.
    Eliza is obsessed with an old copy of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. For about 4 months she would not read anything but the "Beast book" and oddly enough she was afraid of Belle and liked the beast. At about 18 months she LOVED Goodnight, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann which I also loved. She also loved Favorite Nursery Rhymes from Mother Goose illustrated by Scott has beautiful, rich illustrations and the rhymes are fun to say and easy enough for her to repeat. Recently she has loved The Day the Babies Crawled Away by Peggy Rathmann (I love it too). It is a great book to read aloud and Eliza loves to see the babies crawling and doing all kinds of funny stuff. We have read it so many times that we stop mid-sentence and she will finish. She also loved Are You My Mother and Go Dog Go by PD Eastman and Ten Apples Up on Top by Dr Seuss. I actually dreaded reading these books (except for Are You My Mother?) but she loved them so much I would read them over and over and over. And in the end I think they were great for her vocabulary.

  8. Ms. J. loves:
    Llama Llama Red Pajama
    Green Eggs and Ham
    Fox in Socks
    Tuck Me In!

    Ms. M. loves:
    George and Martha
    Pinkalicious (sigh)
    How I became a Pirate

    They both love:
    Goodnight moon
    The Hungry Caterpillar
    Go Dog Go
    Mr. Brown Can Moo
    Chicka Chicka 123
    Plus 3 more obscure ones:
    Poppy the Panda
    Tubby and the Lantern
    Socks for Supper

  9. So Dylan is a bit young to have favorite books yet, he seems to prefer ones that have a singsong sound, and I can indulge my mommy loves you books by reading him I love you through and through... that being said, I came across this list today on pinterest and thought it might be interesting to look at - seems like a better list to me!

  10. I just asked the kids what their favorite childhood book was, and they responded with "Walter the Farting Dog." Big emphasis on FUNNY books in this house!

    "Runaway Beard" (David Schiller) is great, as is "No, David!" (David Shannon) and "How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight" (Jane Yolen and Mark Teague). "Stella Luna" was a big favorite when they were closer to the 6-7 age range, as was "Crickwing," so maybe just hang onto those for a year or so.

    It is probably heresy, but I deeply dislike reading Dr. Seuss books. Luckily Kelcey did not, because the kids couldn't get enough of them for many years.

    I miss reading at night with the kids. We read longer chapter books with them for several years, but at 11 and 13 they are just not excited about snuggling in for a story like they were even a year and a half ago...

  11. Have you read any Mo Willems books with her? I don't have kids, but my friends are always carrying those books home from the library for their children.

  12. Alexia's current favorite, Brown Bear, Brown Bear. She goes through withdrawls if we don't read/look at it. Jacob loves -- still, all the Curious George books.

  13. Max's consistent favorite is "Where's Walrus?" He also really loves the Berenstain Bears' "Spooky Old Tree," which was my husband's favorite when he was little, Dr. Seuss's "Happy Birthday to You" (although we can't actually read all the text of that one yet) and any of the Maisy board books by Lucy Cousins.