With back to school there’s new found focus on reading. My Kindergartner is learning to read and my big girls are trying to improve their reading. And there are some favorite books for each stage my children are in with reading that I would like to share with you. I’m going to start out with what my Kindergartner likes. His sisters might have had a little say in some of these books and I might have too. Lets face it having children is a great way to relive our own childhood. And watching our kids read the same books that were our favorites as kids always brings a smile to my face.
Our Top 10 Pre-Reader Books
I am going to start out with my most favorite children’s book of all time. The Clown Of God by Tomie DePaola is the retelling of an old French legend where a juggler gives the only gift he has to the Christ child for Christmas.
My college roommate actually introduced me to this book. It was a birthday present she gave to me and I will never forget the look on her face. The book made her think of me because I am a clown.
Although, after doing some research for this post I can’t help but wonder if she actually knew more about it and it had more symbolism than just being about a clown like me. You see the author, Tomie DePaola is a native of CT and he went to Pratt Institute which actually a very close friend of mine from high school had attended. Plus the book was published in 1978 the year I was born. I think I might just love this book even more.
I must admit, I haven’t read it to my son. My older girls have heard it, but I have it packed away in a box from when we moved and I haven’t taken it out. I never kept it with the children’s books because it was such a special copy to me. I am going to have to look for it to read to my little ones.
Next my son’s favorite book for the past year has been Shh Shh Shh Let The Baby Sleep by Kathy Stemke. We read this book almost every night. I don’t really know why it’s so special to my son. Maybe he likes all the sound effects I make.
It’s about a little boy named Zachary who takes his baby sister on an adventure and keeps her quiet and content by using his super hero powers to tackle all the different sounds that startle baby Layla.
It’s a cute story. I won this in a giveaway last year and it has been the most used giveaway item I have won. Definitely a favorite in our house. I also like it for letting my 10 year old read it to my son because it reaffirms common sounds in reading and letter combinations. She needs that extra practice. And what little boy doesn’t love having his big sister read his favorite book to him. I’m afraid we all might actually have it memorized now though.
My oldest daughter’s favorite children’s book is Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig. This book is about Sylvester who finds a magic pebble and when he’s on his way home he gets frightened by a lion and makes a wish to the magic pebble. His wish has unexpected results. Getting Sylvester home to his family has surprising results which make the book magical with excitement and intrigue.
This is one of the 100 best books of the century selected by the National Education Association. My daughter recently took this book out of the library in hopes of making her little brother love it as much as she does. Lucky her, all these little siblings keeping her forever young and giving her an excuse to read children’s books.
My middle daughter’s favorite book is If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Numeroff. A delightful tale about a little boy who shares his cookie with a mouse and then spends the rest of the day taking care of the mouse. Eating a cookie causes the mouse to be thirsty, then he’ll need a straw, next a napkin, surely he’ll need to look in a mirror at his milk mustache, but when he sees himself in the mirror he realizes he needs a haircut. It goes on and on and on with all sorts of crazy requests by this mouse just because a little boy shared his cookie.
So many great things about this book. Kids find the characters easy to relate to and learn about generosity and helping others. But as an educational standpoint this book is great at teaching children sequencing. Believe me, when they get into the older grades and are writing their own stories they will be taking a lesson from If You Give A Mouse A Cookie. Using other words when telling what happened besides then. A great pick for a favorite book I think.
A tale about three clever little billy goats who work together to out smart the troll who lives under the bridge they must cross to get up the mountain.
It doesn’t get much more classic than that. I think my husband liked the troll. He tends to have an interest in mythical creatures who live under bridges.
While I know the classics like this tend to have things in them that children find scary there’s just something about these old classic folk tales and reading them to your kids. We grew up with this stuff.
Another excellent book is The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. This is a favorite book for kids going off to school. It’s about a small raccoon who doesn’t want to go to school so his mom shares a secret that was passed down from her mom and her mom before. She gives a little peck on the small raccoons paw and tells him to hold onto it tight and whenever he gets lonely and misses home he can hold it up to his cheek and get a kiss and the warm fuzzy feeling he gets from mom.
My kids have always loved this cute little tradition of sending them off to school with a nice warm kiss they can hold tight in their hand. It has helped ease many fears and anxieties that have popped up at school.
This year it was read to my son on the first day of Kindergarten. And he got to bring the book home for all of us to read. It was such a treat and it reminding my older girls about that fun little tradition that we hadn’t been doing so much with them anymore.
No list would ever be complete without The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. I loved this book as a child. The small caterpillar ate and ate and ate and ate some more. Until he was so huge and fat he couldn’t eat no more.
It has a nice little science lesson in there too teaching children about how the caterpillar grows and develops and turns into a beautiful butterfly. And hey every time I read it I’m always amazed at just how much that caterpillar will eat. He just eats his way right through the book. I don’t know I think those holes in the pages might have a little something to do with why everyone is so intrigued with it.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? also by Eric Carle and Bill Martin Jr. is a great book which teaches children colors. This one is used in school a lot and the kids always have fun helping brown bear find something to see.
It’s imaginative, fun, and whimsical. And the illustrations in this book are amazing. Is it really any wonder that children and teachers love this book equally?
The illustrations are done by Eric Carle. He creates such bright and fun characters which perfectly attract small children. Bill Martin Jr. is the author of the book and his sing song words make this a very easy book for young children to remember and begin to read along with. A great first step towards learning to read book which is why it’s loved by teachers every where.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention another Bill Martin Jr. book called Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. A great and fun book which teaches the alphabet. It goes through the letters twice in the book. We always love using this for letter recognition too. Where’s black eyed P?
The letters are all racing up the tree, but no one knows if there will be enough room. And then they go chicka chicka boom boom.
It’s fun and sing songy. There is a song on a Kid’s CD that we were given when my son was in preschool. It’s fun and upbeat and silly and when it’s over there are always a lot of giggles. A fun twist on the alphabet for sure.
Finally we have Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats. A little boy name Peter wants to learn how to whistle so he can call his dog Willie. Peter tries and tries as hard as he can before he becomes a professional whistler.
This story is a great lesson in practice making perfect. My personal favorite thing about this book is the illustrations. They are so unique.
Actually, it’s very easy to pick out all Ezra Jack Keats based on the illustrations. I haven’t seen an Ezra Jack Keats book that I haven’t liked. And I don’t know many people who don’t know who Ezra Jack Keats is.
So these are the books that we love in our house. I’m sure I could go on and on forever with our favorites. But these are tops in our house.
What are your favorite children’s books?