I was looking at my son’s bookshelf the other day and noticed how many books have been his favorites and now we don’t read anymore-and he’s only 2 1/2! I decided that I’d like to remember all those books we read time after time after time, and so, here is a list. Ostensibly in chronological order. To be updated as is warranted.
Infant/Baby, the first year
Baby Animals Black and White by Phyllis Tildes: I always like to give a black and white board book or two to friends when they have a baby. For a long time I was a fan of Tana Hoban’s Black on White and White on Black (and we do have those), but this is my favorite of the b&w books we showed him as a wee infant of a couple weeks old. He really responded to the lovely pictures and now his sister is enjoying them, too!
Time for Bed by Mem Fox and Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown: I’d always loved reading Time for Bed at bedtime themed storytimes and giving this book as a gift. I was happy to give it to myself when he was born. We chose these two books to read at bedtime every night when we started putting him to bed every night, around 4 or 5 months or so. I’d guess we read both books every night for a solid year. I could recite them in my sleep. I love Time for Bed for its beautiful illustrations by Jane Dyer (one of my very favorite illustrators) and the soothing rhythm of the story. Goodnight Moon everyone knows is a giant in children’s literature, but it was never a favorite of mine. My husband and I laughed at the oddities in it (why are the socks mentioned in the second half of the book but not the first?) but we soon grew to love it.
Daddy Loves Me: a not particularly great little board book that he love, love, loved. He especially loved having his daddy read it to him. I was amused one day to see one of the photos in a magazine, clearly the book is just cobbled together with stock images. The corresponding Mommy book is not as nice, and we did not get it.
Love That Baby! by Susan Milord: A lift the flap book rendered in charming pastels. Very simple text (baby is scared (lift the flap) hug that baby!; baby is hungry (lift the flap) feed that baby!). We read this every day for a couple of months when after his afternoon nap he’d have a snack and I’d have a cup of tea and I would read this to him in high chair.
Who Said Boo?: purchased for Halloween, of course. A very funny little board book that had him shrieking with laughter at the end every time. And saying “boo”
Busy Kitties: a lovely board book of photographs of kitties doing various things. An inexplicable absolute love of kitty cats made this a must purchase. He would kiss all the kitties in the pictures. Busy Monkey, Busy Piggies, Busy Doggies, and Busy Barnyard are also in this series, and we have Barnyard and Doggies, but the kitties are his favorite.
The Kitten Book by Jan Pfloog–kitties, kitties, kitties. This is an adorable old golden book and for a time he kissed each of the kitties on every page. So sweet.
Babycakes by Karma Wilson: an absolutely wonderful rhyming, adorably illustrated, perfect little bedtime book. “Babycakes, babycakes, I love you, babycakes, babycakes, yes I do!”
The Rooster Struts and I am a Bunny by Richard Scarry: I love these tall narrow board books and for a time thought they’d be books I liked, but he didn’t, but he did end up loving them. I have a happy memory of sitting in the kitchen window seat on a very snowy day reading the snow page of I am a Bunny. The simple language and sentence structure of these books (one a story, the other a list of various animals and how they walk) is very soothing and engaging. But what I really love about them is the the combination of botanically accurate illustrations and completely made up things, such as a rabbit wearing overalls. The pictures are really quite nice and The Rooster Struts is in desperate need of repair as the spine has fallen apart.
Tails by Matthew VanFleet: a great touch and feel and lift the flap book. They shiny peacock page made his very excited every time and he loved flipping open the page to get to it.
Duckie’s Rainbow by Frances Barry: this was a book I liked to use at storytime and bought for him as one that shows the colors and has a nice simple story. Another one of those books I remember reading during our “afternoon tea time together.”
Goodnight My Duckling by Nancy Tafuri We have this in board book form. the illustrations are just lovely, typical Tafuri, but a little more refined, perhaps because of the smaller board book size? Anyway, for a long time this was the favorite bedtime book. We all loved the sad little wordless page where the bats are out and the duckie is all alone, and then hooray! He rides in on the turtle. It’s just so sweet and I like it that the birds are unusual. And we always use a silly voice for the froggie when he says “See you in the morning little duckling”
Toddler (and here a great love of trucks and trains develops. We check out many books from the library with exciting titles like “Bulldozer”, “Dump Trucks”, “Tractor”, and the like.)
And the Train Goes We got this out of the library and I had to own it. The color palette is all green, red, and purple. It seems as if it’s from the UK in the 1960s, but it’s not. It’s very charming and fun to read aloud (“lovely cake doris, lovely tea Mabel”)
Trucks Trucks Trucks by Peter Sis: a gift from our friend Eugenie. I really like Sis’s work-there’s something weird but compelling about his illustrations. Also, this book has very few words but is beautifully put together. We’ve had many a night where he asks to have this read over and over again. there is just one word per page, but as the boy plays with and puts away each truck, the trucks get bigger and bigger until he is not playing with them, but driving them. At the end, with his room all cleaned up, he goes outside and watches a real construction site.
Trucks Trucks Trucks ill by Megan Halsey :a nicely rhymning compendium of all the trucks you see on the “long, long, road” The opening line of this book (“trucks, truck, trucks, down the long long road”) became something he’d say all the time. I love the illustrations (collage) and there’s lots of funny little jokes for the grownups (a stork driving a pickup filled with babies with the words “Open All Night” on the truck).
Chugga Chugga Choo Choo by Kevin Lewis : The rhythm and rhyme of this book are perfect to me-ideal to read aloud and also mimicking a train. Had it been around when I was doing storytimes I would have used it all the time. As it is, when we first got this book we read it constantly. A little boy’s imaginative and elaborate train set up is described as if it is a real train going to a city to deliver freight. the phrase “into tunnels underground, see the darkness hear the sound” became something Clark would say when we went through tunnels.
My Truck is Stuck by Kevin Lewis: Though this is by the same author I find the rhythm of this book totally inferior to that of Chugga Chugga Choo Choo. However, Clark doesn’t care and he loves this book. In fact, this book has affected his imaginative play more than anything else. Daily his toy cars and trucks get stuck (often in “muck”-just like in Jez Alborough’s Duck in the Truck.) He says phrases from the book beyond getting stuck (who will help?)
Animal Alphabet by The binding of this long rectangular board book did not hold up at all. That said, the illustrations are lovely and this was a wonderful one for when he was learning his letters. And animals!
Big Dog and Little Dog by Dav Pilkey I love these books and bought it for future reading when he was older. To my surprise he really liked them aged 18 months and up.
Bow Wow Orders Lunch by Mark Newgarden My husband brought this home. Very quirky, an illustrative style that reminds me of Tin Tin, and just 4 words.
Where’s My House? by Simms Taback A lift the flap book featuring different animals and where they live. I think this is where he learned about donkeys
Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel I thought he wouldn’t be into these books for a few more years, but to my surprise he really likes the little stories (which upon rereading as an adult are, frankly, kind of weird). Favorites are the cookies and lost button stories.
Big Dog and Little Dog by Dav Pilkey We have the collection, which includes Big Dog and Little Dog Get in Trouble, Go For a Walk, Wearing Sweaters. We love them all and always read it cover to cover. Paul and I especially like how you never see the woman’s face but you can definitely tell what she’s thinking.
any Curious George book–I prefer the short ones!!
Now, that he’s 3…checking lots of things out of the library and then reading a few many many times before returning them. At this age also doesn’t want to share any of his books with his sister. She is apparently not allowed to hear stories he thinks of as his!
Owl Babies by Martin Waddell This is a well known picture book and I checked it out of the library for him. He loved it, especially the “Owl Mother.” For some reason he would point to her until you said “Owl Mother”. Loved it, loved it, had to have it read every single night so many times that we bought the book and now he never wants to hear it. Oh well. It’s a lovely book to have on hand.
Dumpy the Dump Truck by Julie Andrews Edwards (yes, that Julie Andrews) and sequel, Dumpy Goes to School These are both library check outs and one of them is read every single night. They are loooooong. And a little bit weird. And even though I picked the first one because of the title and assumed it would be very dump truck oriented it is actually a rather sensitive story about a boy and his grandpa lovingly restoring an old truck because “It’s sad to get rid of something you love just to make room for something new.” He loves these so much. Because of the quietness of the story and the length, when combined with the book below he falls asleep immediately afterward.
Puff Puff Chugga Chugga by Christopher Wormell We had this checked out of the library some time ago and recently he found it again at the library and was very excited to discover it. We are reading it constantly. It’s a bizarre little story, but I think I quite like it. The story itself is about a train that goes from the conductor’s cottage to Seaside Station (Mrs. Walrus gets on), Forest Station (Mr. Bear gets on), and Jungle Station (Mrs. Elephant gets on.) Although the train is clearly a little wooden train, the animals are portrayed realistically. They all go to “town station” and buy lots of stuff. What I like about it is its illogical combination of stuff, that is totally logical for a kid.
Information books about dinosaurs, animals, construction
Turtles in the Sea by Jim Arnosky