Books Every Family Needs

I love books and my goal was to break it down to 10 books every family should have. 10 was really hard to stick to but I still think every family should have these books.

baby book

The Baby Book: (Revised and Updated Edition)by William and Martha Sears. Words from this book were more often read to my son than the next 3 books combined in the first few weeks of his life. Hey I was a nervous mindful first time mom and this book was my go to companion for everything related to his health and development. Although Dr.Sears has become a popular figure head for the attachment parenting style of parenting even if you are not practicing it’s tenets ( co sleeping, breastfeeding, babywearing among others) this book is a great all around book about your baby. If you know someone expecting, this book is a fantastic gift for them too!


Goodnight Moonby Margaret Wise Brown was an hands down favorite in our house from birth. We read it to my son every night and it became part of his bedtime routine so much so that on planes, or while fussy if I recited the text he’d noticeably calm down. At almost 3 years old he still loves this book and when we read it we purposefully change words and he laughs and corrects us. A wonderful bedtime book!


One Duck Stuck by Phyllis Root looks like an everyday book , but inside you will find a brilliantly repetitive storyline, that promotes teamwork, and mathematical skills! See a duck gets stuck in the muck and while others are eager to help the duck isn’t unstuck until they all work together. My class was nuts about this book a few years ago and my son has greatly enjoyed it since infancy. Don’t pass this book up.

Brown Bear Brown Bear

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. is another book that can go with a baby from infancy through toddlerhood and into the preschool years. The bold colors of the illustrations by Eric Carle are perfect for catching infant’s attention and will continue to grab it through the years. With the turn of each page the reader is left wondering what’s next, and if the reader is my son he will cut you off to tell you what’s coming next before you have a chance to turn the page. There are other titles in the series , including ; Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?, Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? , and Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? but this one is my very favorite!

goonight gorilla

Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann was consistently chosen by my son to read for the first 2 years of his life. The book is largely free of text but the illustrations are so rich there is no need for extra words. The zoo keeper says goodnight to his animal charges, only to have them follow him home to bed. It’s a sweet silly book that even the youngest readers know is silly and older ones can easily relate to wanting to climb in bed with their caregiver. A fantastic book !


The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch has enchanted me for years. I bought it while volunteering as a leader in training at a day camp when I was a teen. It’s followed me to many schools, children I babysat and finally my own son. I can’t remember one child ever not liking it. It’s a story of Elizabeth a princess who outwits a dragon to rescue her prince. I love that the author has switched the typical damsel in distress and has the princess as the heroine. Some parents have expressed concern about Elizabeth calling the prince a “Bum” in the end of the book, personally I love it. I have always used it to explain why she was so angry, and as a reminder why calling names hurt. That said I think she is totally justified !


Corduroyby Don Freeman was a childhood favorite of mine and my son loves it too. The story is about a lonely bear at a department store who despite being a little disheveled finds a forever home with a kind little girl who needs him as much as he needs her. There are so many levels to this book, as a child I remember being awed by the thought of toys coming alive in stores when the doors are locked and the shoppers leave. As an adult I see this as a touching adoption story . My son loves the escalators Corduroy travels on in the store ! This is another book that has lasting power and can be read for years in your home.

Alexander and the terrible horrible no good very bad day

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst was another childhood favorite that I have enjoyed sharing with my own son. This book is beautiful, even though it may take a few reads to soo it’s not a story about a whining little boy so much a lesson that sometimes things do not go our way. Days can suck. It’s just the way it is. As a child I related to Alexander’s feelings of frustration and things being unfair. How often to you hear a child say “No Fair!” probably a lot. This book taps into that feeling, being little is hard but just because you are mad, or your day was bad doesn’t mean you get your way. Great book to talk about anger and frustration with your child, and it’s funny too!


Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak needs no introduction especially with the current film adaptation. However I can’t ignore that it’s my son’s favorite book. We read is often and my son randomly quotes the book throughout the day. Telling me to “Be still” just like Max tells the Wild Things. If by chance you are not familiar with this book, it’s a story of a little boy Max who is sent to his room and his imagination turns it into another world, filled with wild Things and freedom. Ultimately though Max’s heart pulls him back home where he is loved most of all.

very hungry caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. I couldn’t leave this book out even though I would be shocked if there was a single reader who has never heard of this book. I won’t wax poetic, although I could. I will say that it is an amazing teaching tool, the days of the week, nutrition and the life cycle of a butterfly are all covered in this classic book.

I love you stinky face

I Love You Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt is a wonderful mushy book that will still appeal to kids that aren’t so into mush. A little boy in his PJs asks his mom if she will still love him even if he was a series of terrible monsters. It reminds me of “The Runaway Bunny” but less saccharine and creepy. Sorry if I have just called your favorite book creepy but I’ve never been a fan of “The Runaway Bunny”. Back to this book and why I like it, I love that the little boy in the book keeps trying to find ways to make him unlovable and the mom keeps finding ways to love unconditionally. There is a deeper meaning here and moms will see past the fun illustrations to the real heart of this book, which is no matter what we love our children. When I found this in a thrift store and read it quickly, I couldn’t look at my son in his stroller throwing puffs on the floor without tearing up.

Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin by Lloyd Moss is a big hit at our house and if you have a child into music or musical instruments this is a great book. You count the instruments as they come on stage for a performance and not only is this a great counting book, but it introduced musical instruments in it’s rhyming text and super fun pictures. I am biased though my little man is really into instruments and loves this book. The day we bought it I had to sit in the back with him on the way home from the bookstore because he couldn’t wait to read it , and he’s consistently reached for it ever since.

Ordinary Amos and the amazing fish

Ordinary Amos and the Amazing Fish by Eugenie and Henry Fernandes is a funny book that turns the tables on humans , Amos gets caught by a family of fish and they keep them as a pet. This book was a favorite of all my classrooms, children love to imagine other worlds and one where they are the pet is both a little scary and really silly too! I love the message of empathy, and kids grasp it. They see that Amos once caught is sad and depressed in his bowl and that it’s no fun being caged up !

alphabet under construction

Alphabet Under Construction by Denise Fleming is a wonderful example of what an alphabet book should be. Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers learning their first letters, the text is short , the letters are front and center and the illustrations are fun and interesting. My son loves this book, I grabbed it at the library after remembering how much my Pre K class loved it too! Many alphabet books are too long to read entirety at circle time or in one shot with a toddler but my son would sit for this book well before he was 2.

Julius, the Baby of the World is such a funny book that I actually called my mom the day I bought it to read it to her over the phone. The book is about Lily who is adjusting to her new role as a big sister. The thing is Lily isn’t adjusting well, and it’s hilarious because it’s so true ! So often books depict older siblings happily welcoming babies into their lives and that just isn’t always the case. Lily is not happy, she unlike her parents do not think this baby is special and she is openly hostile to Julius. I laugh out loud every time I read this book, I particularly love when Lily tells a passing pregnant mouse that she will regret being pregnant. I think this book opens the floor for a real talk about feelings when a new baby comes, it’s important to remember just because the big people are excited doesn’t mean the little ones are too!

whoever you are

My last but certainly not least loved book is Whoever You Are by Mem Fox. I had the absolute pleasure of writing a unit of study for Itty Bitty Bookworm using this book as the base. I often feel sick of the books we use for curriculum after reading it thousands of times, brainstorming lessons and activities. Not this book, every time I read it I get goosebumps. The book is simple and talks about the differences of little children all over the world, but focuses on what they all have in common. Children of various cultures are shown , smiling, laughing, crying and the reader can see that even if the clothes , or houses or food is different the insides are the same. I always choke up reading this book because it’s so beautiful and a great reminder for all of us that while we so often focus on what we see as different most of what we have is in common.

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  1. says

    Wow, what a great post, what a great resource, and what a great website. I just wrote a post about how reading with your child can promote language development and am in the process of building a page about repetitive board books. I’ll be linking up your page-o-books so readers can find it. Awesome!

  2. says

    This is a great list! There a few on the list I am yet not familiar with. (I will check those out!) But the books I am familiar with are ones I agree are wonderful suggestions.

    I am sure it was very difficult to choose only 10!

    Thanks for this post and the work you do,


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