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January 25, 2010

Our Favourite Family Reads

We’re starting simple in our celebration of Family Literacy Day/Week. To kick it off, I bring you a list of our favourite books to read to our eight month-old daughter.

Though first, I’ll have you know that she now has two favourite books of her own and they are Rainbow Fun and All About Me: A Baby’s Guide to Babies. Sometimes she will only not cry if she is holding/eating/being read Rainbow Fun, and no other book will do. She laughs hysterically throughout A Baby’s Guide to Babies. This absolutely kills me. Text is not foremost in either of these books though, so the books we like best to read to her are a little different. And they are as follows:

1) Peepo by Janet & Allan Ahlberg: I love the rhythm, I love the rhymes. I love bedroom mirror with its rainbow rim, and a mother with a baby just like him. And you could find something new hidden in the illustrations with every reread.

2) Where is the Green Sheep by Mem Fox: We’ve started banging on a drum during story time, and this book has the best beat poet vibe. I have given this book to every child I know. My favourite is the moon sheep and the star sheep, and Stuart loves the near and far sheep. It never gets old, or at least it hasn’t yet.

3) I Kissed the Baby by Mary Murphy: It’s short with strong drawings in black and white, which made it ideal for when Harriet was smaller. It’s question/answer structure makes it fun to read in dialogue. I love to say, “Of course, I kissed the baby. My own amazing baby.” Indeed.

4) Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers: Harriet always laughs at the “Every day, everywhere, babies make noise” page. We kind of like the book because it has same-sex families, and we get to feel liberal and superior to those who gave it one-star ratings on amazon for that same reason. It also has a wonderful sing-song rhythm to it, adorable pictures, and an ending that makes me cry, crediting baby-people for “for trying so hard, for travelling so far, for being so wonderful, just as they are.”

5) Ten Little Fingers Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox: Though I fear that this book might alienate readers with six toes on one foot, or with three thumbs, anyone with twenty digits will find this Mem Fox/Helen Oxenbury collaboration completely adorable. Page breaks in all the right places allow for optimum emphasis, narrative underlines that babies are delicious the world over, and babies learn about fingers, toes, and then receive three little kisses on their noses.

5) The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch: We have an abridged, indestructable board book version that is perfect for story time. Hoping our daughter takes home the message of one enterprising princess, and how she “didn’t get married after all.”

6) Night Cars by Teddy Jam: We love this story of an urban baby who wouldn’t go to sleep, and is the reason I can often be found warning garbagemen to “be careful near that dream.” Stuart particularly likes that Dad is the primary parent in this one, and that it ends with Baby asleep in his arms, albeit in the morning.

7) Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown: This is the mommy version of Night Cars at our house. I love reading it, making the “shhh” sounds (though I am often frightened by the eerie lights on in the dollhouse). And the cow jumping over the moon picture, because that was Harriet’s first nursery rhyme.

8) The Lady with the Alligator Purse by Nadine Bernard Westcott: A hilarious story of three-tiered healthcare, with pizza as the best medicine. It’s weird and joyful, and we read it like a song.

9) Kisses Kisses Baby-O by Sheree Fitch: I love the “Shhh, hush time. Snuggle huggle…” page the best, which features a beautiful picture of a baby breastfeeding (though unlike my baby, that one doesn’t appear to be biting). Fitch manipulates language in her signature style, and the result is sheer delight. Part lullaby, part poem, and all love song.

10) On the Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier: Because of the illustrations with strong contrast and bright colours, because everything in it is true, and because it puts Baby at the centre of the universe. My favourite is the promise from gravity “that you would never float away.”

So those are mine. What are yours, for babies or kids that are bigger?

6 thoughts on “Our Favourite Family Reads”

  1. Melissa F says:

    So many favourites!
    Here are a few at our place:
    The Napping House by Audrey Wood
    The Mitten by Jan Brett
    Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
    Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
    Pajama Time and the Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton
    Jillian Jigs by Pheobe Gilman
    Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault
    Angela's Airplane by Robert Munsch
    Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish

  2. Brightsider says:

    5 month old Robyn loves:
    The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (which I have read so many times I now know off by heart!)
    Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson
    Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

    I've just ordered a few of your favourites- I'm looking forward to reading some Mem Fox after your recommendations.

  3. Kristin says:

    We liked a lot of your picks too. Other big hits from the board book type genre in our house are:

    Ten Nine Eight by Molly Bangs
    Binky, No No Yes Yes, and Quiet Loud, all by Leslie Patricelli
    There's a Wocket in my Pocket by Dr. Suess
    Baby Cakes by Karma Wilson
    Brown Bear by Bill Martin
    Duck in a Truck by Jez Albright
    Pajama Time and Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton

    Current favorites for Will (age 3) include:

    Dandelion, and Cordury, by Don Freeman
    Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
    If you Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe
    Lily's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
    Silly Billy by Anthony Browne
    I Know a Rhino by Charles Fuge
    Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney
    Barnyard Banter, and Buster by Denise Fleming
    Mr. Pusskins by Sam Lloyd

    If your child develops an obsession with trucks and transportation of any kind let me konw, we have read hundreds of books on that theme.

  4. Kerry says:

    Thoughts: Phoebe Gilman wrote the most extraordinary books. And I can't wait until Harriet is old enough for Amelia Bedelia. Owl Babies is so wonderful– poor Percy! And Duck in a Truck is the best of the bunch– I've tried the duck follow-ups, but they don't do it for me. Thanks for these lists– I love it!

  5. BabelBabe says:

    Owl Babies made my first boy cry – he's still the anxious type : )

    We have JUST discovered Chicka Chicka Boom Boom – where oh where, CCBB, have you been all my life?

    We like:
    anything Thomas (but we really adore the big omnibus book of the original stories by the Reverend…)
    Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See?
    Baby Giggles
    Baby Colors
    Sandra Boynton's One Two Three
    Hop on Pop
    also Good Night Moon & Binky
    Guess How Much I Love You
    Moonbeam Bear
    Alexander & the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

    my older guys love Daniel Pinkwater's books (I have a soft spot for Irving & Muktuk, Two Bad Bears, and The Big Orange Splot

  6. Kerry says:

    Oh, I LOVE Jamberry! Razzamatazzberry!

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