Make them laugh and they will come back for more. These 25 books have all made us laugh a lot. I am not talking about a little chuckle, I am talking serious laughter , some even made me snort. Some are silly, some witty and some are plain gross but they are all great ways to get your kids reading and more importantly loving books. This week is Children’s Book Week and what better way to celebrate than with funny picture books.
Parts by Tedd Arnold is so funny. Readers follow along as a 5 year old boy begins noticing things about his body he’d never noticed before like belly button lint, snot, peeling skin and more. His anxious assumptions about his body falling apart will have you in stitches. My 2 year old laughed and got most of the humor but slightly older children will be laughing hysterically at how silly the little boy’s worries are.
I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More!by Karen Beaumont is guaranteed to entertain your child, even my toddler was laughing and anticipating the rhyming text which tickled me to no end! I have had some parents in the past not be happy about the use of “ain’t ” and the little boy in the story painting everywhere. I would counter that by saying people do use “ain’t” and kids do paint on things they aren’t supposed to . Use these as examples of what you aren’t supposed to do, and ask your child what they think should happen if they painted all over the house? As far as using “ain’t” I would play the traditional “It ain’t gonna rain no more” and explain that the author used that song as inspiration for the book.
Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton always makes me laugh. There is something about the facial expressions her animals always have that crack me up, and lets be honest if the book is good for the adult reading it, it’s always a plus. Super bright colors on each page is a huge bonus for my baby girl as I flip the pages, and even though she doesn’t get the humor yet she will soon enough and it’s a book that will grow with her. Edited for 2013 : Now at 2 my daughter absolutely understands the absurd humor and loves it all the more for it.
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin is a hilarious look at working conditions on a farm. I have yet to read this book without giggling and in the 2003-2004 school year I think I read it 500 times! The story has a wonderful message of fairness and negotiation . During a transit strike we read this to a Kindergarten class to help explain what was going on why the bus drivers didn’t want to work- it was a great tool!
My Little Sister Ate One Hare by Bill Grossman is a funny counting book that counts all the disgusting things the narrator’s sister ate from 1-10 . The rhyming text builds and repeats as she eats and eats! My son was thoroughly entertained.
Barry the Fish with Fingers by Sue Hendra is a goofy fun book that had me wrapped around it’s fingers with the title, I mean a fish named Barry? And he has fingers?! I love it. Thankfully my judgment was smack dab on because the inside of the book was as funny as the cover. Barry isn’t just a fish with fingers he is a hero when his fingers save the day. The illustrations are so fun, the text is zippy and both my kids ( 4 and 10 months) loved it from start to finish.
Julius, the Baby of the World by Kevin Henkes 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!
Shark vs. Train by Tom Lichtenheld is a story about imagination and competition and it’s hilarious. Two little boys are comparing a toy train and a toy shark but soon readers are sucked into their imaginations where the toys are put against each other in increasingly funny match ups. Not only are the match ups brilliant in their absurdity but what the shark and train are saying during each are just plain funny. My son and I spend a lot of time playing imaginary match ups like this so this book is nothing short of a hit.
The Alphabet from A to Y With Bonus Letter Z! by Steve Martin was introduced to me by Rebecca when she sent it in for this post . When I saw it at the library I grabbed it and so glad I did. It’s a fun book with silly rhymes for each letter and I was surprised that my son sat all the way through it. It’s a pretty long alphabet book for a toddler. I liked the details in the illustrations even if the sometimes gross humor was not my favorite, but kids will love it .
Mortimer by Robert Munsch is a fun bedtime book, it’s not the calmest and is pretty funny so you may want to read this one before some more chill books. I can’t remember the first time I read this book, but whether reading it to a group of preschoolers or to my kids I have never had a child not sing along with Mortimer who is driving everyone bonkers by not going to sleep! Instead he is singing and making noise and not even the police can stop him.
Zoom! is another of my son’s favorite Munsch books. The little girl in the book is looking for a new wheelchair and isn’t satisfied until she has the fastest wheelchair she can get her hands on. What I love about this book isn’t the absurd humor ( which there is plenty of) it’s the fact that the main character being in a wheelchair is the norm. There is no long explanation about why she has a wheelchair , nothing preachy about children with disabilities. I think it’s important to have books that explain disabilities, and to learn more about them but also equally important to have books like this one that are seamlessly assimilated.
The Book That Eats People by John Perry makes me laugh hysterically , so hard it was difficult at times to read the words but it’s really really gruesome. This is not a book for kids that are squeamish, prone to imaginative nightmares or anxiety about death. That said if your child can handle a little funny horror, they will love this book. The story follows this human eating book as it wreaks havoc and gobbles people up! I beg parents to pre read this because it may be hilarious to me and my macabre little man but it may seriously frighten your child.
Goodnight Goon: A Petrifying Parody by Michael Rex. We loved this book, as big Goodnight Moon fans we were all laughing reading this before bed. My almost 3 year old thought that this was the funniest book ever made and would correct the book often with the original text .
Cowboy Camp by Tammi Sauer is funny and touching all at the same time. Avery is off to Cowboy Camp to learn how to be a real cowboy, only one problem, every lesson turns into a disaster. He can’t stomach cowboy food, he is allergic to his horse and ends up on a cow instead, and he gets rope burn when he is learning to lasso. After the other campers head to bed Avery encounters the nefarious Bad Bart a bad cowboy who wants to stop cowboy camp, Avery outwits him and saves the day. I loved that there was no teasing from the other campers and each time Avery came to an obstacle he was offered an alternative ( cheese and crackers to eat, a cow to ride and yarn to lasso with) instead of simply sitting out. Great book to read before summer camp!
No, David! by David Shannon is probably the author’s best known book, in it we follow the misadventures of little David and his eventual disciplining and hug from his mom. This book is a wonderful icebreaker for talking about rules with a class. I have successfully used it with many groups of kids and my own as a reminder about rules and why we have them. Kids love watching other kids do naughty things ( and are quick to remind each other of the right way to do things) so this book is always a hit with toddlers on up.
Dinosaur vs. the Potty by Bob Shea was the reason my voice was hoarse for days. My kids love, no ADORE this book. My son who is 5 is in stitches every time we read it and my daughter who is 2 reaches for it time and time again. The thing about this book is you must read it with gusto for it to reach it’s full potential because it’s story isn’t deep it’s really just about a destructive dinosaur who doesn’t go pee when he should. Sound familiar? Kinda like little kids who dump toys, bang and stomp and deny that they have to use the potty until the very last minute. It struck a chord at our house and I have a hunch it may at yours too.
Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein will crack you up. The story is a bout a little chicken and how impossible it is to stop her from interrupting her bedtime stories, saving the characters and declaring the end of the story. It’s frustrating to her dad and a great learning tool for readers. Above all else it’s really funny. After she interrupts all the books he has to read to her she suggests she read him a story and he ends up unintentionally interrupting her.
The Teacher from the Black Lagoon by Mike Thaler is the original book in the very popular Black Lagoon series. The imaginative story is all about a boy’s worries that his teacher is going to be a terrible child eating monster. My son giggled through the whole book and loved the gore and dark humor. I do not suggest reading this to very sensitive kids or ones that really are very nervous about school. It’s humor may not be reassuring, but kids comfortable with school will find it hilarious.
Take Care, Good Knight by Shelley Moore Thomas such a sweet book about three little dragons who agree to cat sit a wizard’s pets and the Good Knight who helps them get it right. The story is filled with mishaps when the dragons who can’t read yet try to figure out the wizard’s written instructions. The outcome is hilarious and will have your children giggling. I also love the message about using pictures to give clues for reading, but to remember to ask “Does this make sense?”
Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach is so funny. I love books like this that have absurd humor thrown in. Before you even read the story on the inside flap you will notice a blurb that ends with “This story is not suitable for pirates” it just makes me giggle! The story follows the most anxious squirrel you’ll ever encounter as he tries to make his own beach, only to end up at a busy one! What I love about this book are the details, the small asides will have you laughing and the main story will keep even young ones totally entertained. My son loved it especially the part about the pool being the ocean and the flashlight being the sun, even at two he was trying to tell the squirrel how wrong that was. Super fun and a great message about overcoming fears as well.
Scaredy Squirrel at Night I love Scaredy Squirrel. His crazy anxiety, tendency to play dead and hilarious facial expressions never fail to make me laugh out loud while reading. I love this book in the series because it talks about something very topical in many preschooler’s life – nighttime anxiety. I was expecting a funny book but it was also really touching and useful in regards to conquering fears. I must say for any new parent the bits about sleep deprivation will hit home.
Falling For Rapunzel by Leah Wilcox is snort worthy. Yes this book is so funny the kids will be laughing hysterically and learning all about rhyming at the same time. Rapunzel is having a hard time hearing exactly what Prince Charming is asking her to throw down from her tower and hilarity ensues. Kids will love anticipating what she will throw down next. I won’t ruin the ending but trust me it’s hilarious and kids familiar with the traditional version will love telling you how this one is different. The illustrations by Lydia Monks add to the humor perfectly!
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!by Mo Willems might not need much of a review as I don’t know many parents who haven’t laughed along with their kids reading this book. But if you have never read this book let me tell you about it and why so many of us think it’s hilarious. The book opens with a bus driver asking readers to do him a favor and not let the pigeon drive the bus, easy right? Well just like my 5 year old son who is practicing for the negotiator of the year award this pigeon is relentless. When I asked my son what his favorite part of the book was he giggled loudly while telling me that he loves the tantrum the pigeon has. Kids love seeing characters in books display the behavior that they want to do but only let slip through the cracks every now and then. I love when great underlying connections to kids come in such a goofy package. Love this book. For early readers do not miss any of the Elephant and Piggie books, I haven’t managed to read a single one without laughing.
Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems is hilarious and heartwarming all at the same time. The story is about a lost bunny, and a dad that can’t quite understand what his toddler is trying to “say” to him. Luckily the mom speaks ” toddler” and dad gets to be a hero by reuniting his daughter with her beloved bunny.
Jake Stays Awake by Michael Wright made both my husband and I laugh hysterically my son liked it too, but we loved it. It’s about a little boy who can’t sleep without his parents and they don’t like sleeping with feet in their faces. Can you relate, we can which is why we found this book so funny. What I liked was that Jake wasn’t disciplined for wanting to sleep with his parents, and they tried and tired all different places to sleep, they were just being honest that it wasn’t working anymore! My son loved the page that they were all sleeping in garbage cans and I loved that Jake looked to be about 12 , it gives me hope that my son may sleep alone by puberty.This post contains affiliate links
If you are a regular reader you may have noticed that we have been doing more construction themed activities lately and you are only seeing a fraction of what we have been doing at home. My daughter has a serious fondness for bulldozers and just like when her brother fell in love with garbage trucks one of our first things to do is find books with bulldozers and read as much as we can! Below are our favorite books about construction vehicles . Many of these reviews are a few years old and many have been updated to include what my daughter thinks about them as well.
Machines at Work by Byron Barton is a bold and bright book that is perfect for toddlers who are obsessed with construction vehicles. The text is brief but effective. My son loved this book as an infant and at 2 still enjoys reading it, aw well as counting the workers and trucks on each page.
My Big Book of Trucks and Diggers (My Big Book Of… (Chronicle Books) Have you ever walked by construction and seen your child’s face fill with awe? Bulldozers. Backhoes. Graders. Construction vehicles are memorizing to kids, boys and girls. My Big Book of Trucks and Diggers is a sturdy board book with full colour photos of some of those big Caterpillar vehicles. Each spread focuses on one vehicle, offer it’s name in big bold letters with a full image along with a page that focuses on key aspects of the vehicle. You’ll find a close-up of the wheel or the boom ripper. Kids will love testing their knowledge on the vehicle names and the different vehicle parts. I liked that some of the vehicles were ones that I had never heard of (though perhaps construction junkie kids might know them already). Review by Carrie Anne
Tip Tip Dig Dig by Emma Garcia was an instant classic in our house. My son loves vehicles and this book was the perfect length with the right amount of text and awesome almost Eric Carle like illustrations. Usually books about vehicles just name the trucks and diggers but this book shows children not only what they do but how they can work together to make something. Great book for the digger and backhoe obsessed!
Road Builders by B.G. Hennessy was a birthday gift for my son’s 4th birthday and he was not interested at first. Maybe because of the plethora of lego that was taking over our house… however it has since become such a favorite he recently “read” it to my sister’s dog. It’s a story all about how a road is built , explaining what the crew does, and how each type of construction vehicle has a different role in building a road. I like that it explains the process from start to finish, in just the right level of detail for preschoolers. I also like that there is a female crew member and her participation is seamless. Edited for 2013 – my daughter has become very attached to this book and always wants to know who each road worker is on each page. The fact that there is a female worker has not been lost on her at all.
Barney Backhoe and the Big City Dig by Susan Knopf is a perfect book for your digger obsessed child, but even if your child can’t spot a backhoe from a mile away this book is a cute story about helping people , and the illustrations are filled with things that are found in the city and can spark great discussions with your child . Both of my kids have attached to this story and it spent about 6 months in the car as the favorite book for car rides.
Dig Dig Digging by Margaret Mayo is one of the few books we have that we have bought twice. Our first copy was so well loved that we knew when it could not be read anymore that it would be immediately replaced. This book is imbedded in my brain ( and heart) because both my children have gone through a phase where it’s their absolute favorite. The book takes readers through different vehicles like firetrucks, rescue helicopters and of course bulldozers. The text is repetitive and will get stuck in your head for days but it’s OK because your kids will recite it along with you.
The Truck Book by Harry McNaught is another favorite in our house, mostly because it has a forklift in it. There isn’t much of a story, instead it’s a collection of labeled illustrations. If your child is like mine and loves , no obsesses over things that move this is a fantastic book. I admit I get bored reading it even if my son doesn’t. To fight that boredom we play I spy and both of us are happy. Edited for 2013 – This review still stands just replace forklift with bulldozer and son to daughter.
Dazzling Diggers (Amazing Machines) by Tony Mitton is part of the Amazing Machines series of books that are favorites of both my kids. Now my son reads them to my daughter and yes my heart bursts when he reads to her and it makes me completely forget when he tackles her. The book themselves are little gems. This one talks about diggers and bulldozers with absolutely fantastic rhymes. What amazes me about this book is that your child will actually come away having learned something substantial about the vehicles in it at the same time as loving the brilliant rhyming text. Must read for construction vehicle fans.
Construction Countdown by K.C Olson is a counting book that uses backhoes, dump trucks and cement mixers among other things to count. Before I even closed the book my son was signing for more. I read it 4 times since getting it out of the library today. A huge hit here! <– That was written in 2008 and now over 2 years later my son still likes this book and has grown with it, now doing the counting all by himself.
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker will have to be renewed from the library while I wait for my copy to come from Amazon. This book is starting to get pretty popular and rightfully so, it’s a lovely book. In it busy little construction vehicles wind down for the night and fall asleep. I never thought I would say an excavator was cute but the one in the book is. It’s a wonderful bedtime book and your child will enjoy winding down with the sleepy bulldozer and his friends. My daughter completely adores this book.
Good Morning, Digger by Anne Rockwell is not going to be put onto my must buy list even though the vast majority of her books are. It just seemed flat and boring. The story follows a vacant lot and the digger that comes it to start construction on what will transform into a community center. There really weren’t any characters and the text seemed unenthusiastic, there was nothing to latch on to and make a real connection with. To make matters worse I think I have to pay a late fee at my library on this one. Edited for 2010 - we recently read this book at the library and my son as I predicted loves it. I still stand by my review , and as much as I adore this author I am not a huge fan of this book. Edited for 2013 – My daughter loved it when we sat in the corner of the library and read it . Just goes to show that even at a young age it’s important to let kids have some autonomy when it comes to book choice.
I Love Trucks! by Philemon Sturges is about all sorts of trucks from firetrucks, bulldozers, ice cream trucks and of course garbage trucks! Each page has simple text that gives a brief description of the main action each truck does like roll, dump, dig etc… My son eats this book up even though he enjoys much longer book as well. The illustrations by Shari Halpern ( who also illustrated the previous books) are bright bold and have a cartoon like quality that grabs young children’s attention.
Diggers (Usborne Touchy Feely) by Fiona Watt was given to me before I even had kids and it’s been read countless times to both kids. It’s great for toddlers who need to keep their hands exploring while mom or dad reads. It’s a sturdy book with a simple text that matches the great active illustrations.
Today, we’re bringing the Top 20 Moms to Follow on Pinterest to our blogs. I am super thrilled to have Zina from Let’s Lasso The Moon here today while I am over at Not Just Cute sharing a simple and deceptively educational playdough activity ( I swear we can not get enough of it these days). After you check out my activity there you can follow the tour to the next blog until you end up back here. This group of women fill me with inspiration and if you want a quick glimpse of how rad they are check out our collaborative Pinterest board .
by Zina Harrington
“Again, Mama” How can you resist the request? A good children’s book not only connects with the child, but also with the parent. These are the books that moms and dads willingly read over and over and over again. These are the books that get dragged around the house, that are bent by little hands, that are treasured. These are the books that make reading with your little one an absolute pleasure.
Below are 20 books that are so good you’ll break the binding.
Oh, David! A Diaper David Book by David Shannon is a board book that won over our hearts. No matter what mischief David finds himself in, he is reassured his mother loves him. The watercolor illustrations are true to life. The story has a sing-song appeal that little kids love. They can easily pick-up saying “Oh David!” as you read. The binding was broke, it was sticky, and one of the corners had been sucked on. When it was time to say goodbye to our board books, this one was loved beyond the point of donation.
Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal was my daughter’s favorite. I am a huge fan of all of Rosenthal’s work. Her utterly amusing stories and simple watercolor illustrations allow the child to enjoy the story without distraction. We read this book to our toddler night after night… after night (and then again). When my daughter was two she had the entire book memorized. One evening I captured her reading the book cover to cover on my iPhone. Click here to see the adorable storybook video created from the recording. Now that my daughter is seven, I treasure this audio even more. This book still holds a special place in her heart as well. She often listens to the Land of Nod author reading of the story [free podcast] when going to bed. She also read the book to her class at first grade show-and-tell this year!
Henry and Mudge and the Happy Cat by Cynthia Rylant was a lucky find for our family. Our girls desperately wanted to move-up to read “chapter books,” but they weren’t quite ready. I picked up this early reader at a rummage because it was broken down into three chapters. We immediately fell in love with Henry and Mudge. In this story, Henry’s family takes in a shabby cat. When the owner comes to collect his pet both Henry and Mudge are devastated, but happy to know he’s going back home. Rylant writes in a way that allows children to understand the depth of their conflicting emotions and connect. Of course, the short book leaves children with a happy ending. The entire series is wonderful, but this book is by far our favorite.
Below are other well-loved books from our in-home library:
Brownie and Pearl by Cynthia Rylant
Me and My Dragon by David Biedrzycki
My First Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Not a Box by Antoinette Portis
Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Alexander and the Wind-up Mouse by Leo Lionni
Little Bear by Maurice Sendak
Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn
Have You Got My Purr? by Judy West
Good Night Moon [Board book] by Margaret Wise Brown
Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business by Esphyr Slobodkina
Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor
The Very Hungry Caterpillar [Board book] by Eric Carle
The Snowy Day by Erza Jack Keats [Board book]*We get a lot of snow in Wisconsin!
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? [Board book] by Bill Martin Jr.
The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall
What are your little one’s absolute favorite books? Did you break any bindings at your house? There are so many amazing authors and illustrators out there. My daughters are just getting started with early chapter books. Do you have any book recommendations for us? From your family or from your own childhood? Let’s chat!
Zina is the author of Let’s Lasso the Moon, where she inspires parents and children to interact creatively and enjoy the beauty of everyday moments. Let’s Lasso the Moon and No Time for Flash Cards co-host a Little Book Lovers Pinterest board.
Check out the rest of the Top 20 Moms on Pinterest. Click through the images to be taken to their blogs.
Rhyming is so important for children to understand and play with language. These books tell great stories and have great rhymes. March 1st is Read Across America Day and while most people focus on Dr. Seuss books ( his birthday is the 2nd) I thought I would put together a list of great books that rhyme. It’s a sort of homage to Dr.Seuss and his rhyming legacy. Do you have a favorite book that rhymes we didn’t include? Tell us about it in comments!
Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae is a very sweet story about a giraffe who gets laughed at because he doesn’t know how to dance. A cricket gives him some great advice and with new found confidence that different isn’t always bad he starts to dance! This has been a favorite in our house for years because the illustrations are fun and the rhyming text has the perfect pace to keep the story going.
Parts by Tedd Arnold is so funny. Readers follow along as a 5 year old boy begins noticing things about his body he’d never noticed before like belly button lint, snot, peeling skin and more. His anxious assumptions about his body falling apart will have you in stitches. My 2 year old laughed and got most of the humor but slightly older children will be laughing hysterically at how silly the little boy’s worries are.
How Big Is a Pig? by Claire Beaton is a favorite in our house and has been for both my kids. I love the felt illustrations, the detail amazes me and helps distract me from noticing that I have read it 20 times in as many minutes. The story itself is great too, it focuses on opposites in the farm yard with a zippy rhyming text. My daughter loves taking this one in the stroller while I run and because it’s a board book I can give it to her without worrying that after a few miles it’s ripped and ruined.
I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More!by Karen Beaumont is guaranteed to entertain your child, even my toddler was laughing and anticipating the rhyming text which tickled me to no end! Now I have had some parents in the past not be happy about the use of “ain’t ” and the little boy in the story painting everywhere, I would counter that by saying people do use “ain’t” and kids do paint on things they aren’t supposed to you can use this as an example of what you aren’t supposed to do, and ask your child what they think should happen if they painted all over the house? As far as using “Ain’t” I would play the traditional “It ain’t gonna rain no more” and explain that the author used that song as inspiration for the book.
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans was a childhood favorite and I remember being a little girl and thinking I want to be just like Madeline because she was so brave. She wasn’t afraid of anything and what always struck me was how proud she was of her scar. Something that little girls are told by society to hide because it makes us less than perfect physically yet Madeline hikes up her nightgown and shows it off. Of my childhood heroines Madeline was right up there with Anne Shirley, Annie and Brigitta from Sound of Music. As a teacher and parent I adore Bemelmans’ rhymes which at times are a stretch but in a way that gets kids thinking about what does and doesn’t rhyme.
Granny Went to Market by Stella Blackstone is a book I got to know very well when writing lessons for Itty Bitty Bookworm preschool curriculum using it. This a a really fantastic book that is filled with language arts, geography and math lessons. Granny is a traveler and everywhere she goes she picks up a number of souvenirs. Not only are a number of countries like Switzerland, Mexico and Peru visited, but the souvenirs she buys relate to the country’s culture and offer even more learning opportunities for interested kids. The rhyming text will enchant even the youngest world traveler , this is a must for any jet setting family!
Moo Baa La La Laby Sandra Boynton always makes me laugh. There is something about the facial expressions her animals always have that crack me up, and lets me honest if the book is good for the adult reading it, it’s always a plus. Super bright colors on each page is a huge plus for my baby girl as I flip the pages, and even though she doesn’t get the humor yet she will soon enough and it’s a book that will grow with her.
Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown is one of my very favorite books to read to my daughter before bed although it took a while before she warmed up to it. I was worried because I loved reading it to my son and couldn’t wait to share it with her. The story is simple readers see a day in the life of a big red barn and all the animals inside. Each animal is introduced in the seamless text that reads like a melodic poem. It’s calm , soothing and Felicia Bond’s illustrations are perfect, I love how the sky subtly changes as the night beckons. A wonderful book for anytime, but especially poignant before bed.
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown isn’t an innovative choice but I make babies who love this book. My son could be “Goodnight Mooned ” to sleep as a baby if we simply recited the words and while my daughter isn’t at that point yet she sits happily listening to our voices as we read it to her. I will be the first to admit I didn’t always love this book but as a mom it’s been more than a book, it’s been a signal to my son that it’s bedtime and I hope that it becomes part of my daughter’s routine soon too. The story is simple , it’s not even really a story so much as a baby bunny saying goodnight to all the objects in his room including the moon peeking in the window.
Is There Really a Human Race? by Jamie Lee Curtis made me cry. My husband would say that’s not exactly hard , but it is when it’s a book not many bring me to tears. I really like this book and so did my son which surprised me because I thought it would be too long and sophisticated for a 2 year old. The rhyming text was so well written that it along with the adorable illustrations by Laura Cornell kept him happily interested as I read it to him before nap. I thought that the message was going to be about race relations, but instead it was about the rat race, and how it’s more important to try your best, help others and to be bold. The line ” And for those who can’t speak for themselves use bold voices” was when I lost it. I hope that lesson is one I can teach my son, to stand up for others. Okay so maybe I am a softy but this book is great!
Firefighters: Speeding! Spraying! Saving! by Patricia Hubbell is a wonderful rhyming book all about the work firefighters do. After only reading it twice my son was rhyming along with the simple but well crafted text. I liked that there was a mix of male and female firefighters, that the text incorporates information about equipment as well as tasks the firefighters complete on a call. Perhaps my favorite thing about this book are the details in the illustrations by Viviana Garofoli, the soot on the faces of the rescued and firefighters, the unique angles used in the illustrations and the fun colors. Great book!
Hush, Little Alien by Daniel Kirk is a quirky updated version of the classic lullaby. So many bedtime books are super sugary but this one is funky and bright! I love the space theme and the illustrations are great! The rhymes are funny and kept my son interested in the lullaby much longer than the traditional one which he deems a “baby song”.
My Truck is Stuck! by Kevin Lewis is a fun book full of great rhymes and funny illustrations from Daniel Kirk. The story is simple a truck is stuck and even though other vehicles come to help, nothing budges until a tow truck arrives. The best part is the cargo of bones in the truck are slowly stolen by hungry gophers while the others work to free the truck. It’s got a great message about helping people and the illustrations make me giggle, especially the guy in the moving van who is blowing bubbles. I have never understood that but it makes me laugh.
Baby Says “Moo!”by JoAnn Early Macken was a huge hit with my 2 year old. I should warn you that she loves anything with a baby of any sort in it but even if she wasn’t baby crazy I think she would have loved this book. In it the baby and family go from the city to the farm asking about the sounds the people and animals make around them. No matter what the baby says “Moo” . The text is sweet and rhymes and the bright , colorful illustrations are so adorable. Very sweet book for children learning about animal sounds.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. is a 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! My daughter actually sits looking at these pages instead of simply trying to eat the book, which in my opinion is a great review from a 6 month old!
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom: Anniversary Edition by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault is one of my absolute favorite books ever. Many alphabet books are great tools but this one not only entertains it never gets old. It’s text is musical , it’s premise is brilliant in it’s simplicity and kids love it. My favorite line is ” Skit skat scoodle doot. Flip flop flee. ” I hope I am conveying how much fun this book is to read out loud. I have never had a class who didn’t like it and if you don’t have it, you should!
Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers and Marla Frazee .This book celebrates all sorts of babies and all the every day things babies do. My daughter points out all the babies on each page as I read the rhyming text . So maybe you are thinking ” What’s so great about babies and text that rhymes?” nothing, that isn’t what makes this book so awesome. I love this book because of it’s diversity, inclusion, and acceptance of all babies and families. The illustrations are full of depictions of all sorts of families showering their smallest most precious member with love . What I adore about the diversity of the illustrations is that readers are left to put whatever assumption we wish on the families in the book. What I assumed were two mommies my husband thought was a husband and wife, I thought a lady was a grandma and my son said it was just a older mom. This is why I love this book, my daughter doesn’t see why this message is outstanding, what she does see is all sorts of happy babies in all sorts of families being the norm and this is the world we want her to know.
Flashing Fire Engines by Tony Mitton is a favorite at our house. Normally even after my son and I read the books we review I grab them to do the write up , this is on my son’s shelf where it always is I know the whole thing off by heart as does my son , so no need to grab it for reference. The book is a rhyming masterpiece, somehow keeping up the rhyming pace as it explains how firefighters fight fires and rescue people! Details like what gear they wear, and how hoses and hydrants work are included as well as ladders and sirens. My son loves this book and as an adult who has read it hundreds of times it’s fun to read, even over and over again . We also love all the other books in the series like Cool Cars and Terrific Trains it’s completely worth checking out anything they do!
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 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 .
Ten on the Sled by Kim Norman is a really fun and educational book. The book is a new spin on the old song ” Ten in A Bed” but instead of squeezing onto a bed these cold weather animals pile on and off the sled one at a time. What is wonderful from an educational sense is not just the obvious counting element but as each animal exists the sled the verb used for each animal begins with the same letter as the animal does. This was fantastic for my son who wanted to sound every animal and verb out. Add a fun rhyming sing song text and this is a great option for a holiday gift.
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.
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss . All of Dr. Seuss’s books are worthy of praise, and children really do love the melodic and brilliant rhymes. I love that often you can’t quite tell if a character is a woman or a man, and they have no obvious race which makes them universal and inclusive. I love “Green Eggs and Ham” because of it’s limited wording , there are only 50 words used in the whole book, and easy rhymes make it a great choice for learning about rhyming. Also the words used are so simple that it’s a fabulous book for emergent readers.
Dinosaur Roar! Board Book by Paul and Henrietta Stickland and is a board book that I’ve read often enough that I don’t need to look at the book. The premise is simple, using 2 different dinosaurs every page illustrates a pair of opposites. Toddlers and young preschoolers adore this book and I can’t blame them, it’s adorable and a great tool for teaching ! My son loves how funny the illustrations are and clearly enjoys the rigidity of the opposite concepts.
How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague is a beautifully illustrated story about the tantrums and dramatics that dinosaurs put their parents through at bedtime. I really like this book because it asks if dinosaurs do all these naughty things and kids love to point out what the dinosaurs shouldn’t be doing. Of course in the end the dinosaur s remember their manners and go to bed with hugs and kisses and the lights off!
Trashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha is my favorite garbage truck book , and yes I have read a lot. Mr. Gilly is a hard working garbage man with one task, to clean up Trashy town. The text is so melodic I find myself singing while reading ” Dump it in, Smash it down, drive around the trashy town” . It’s not all trashy time for Mr. Gilly though, after a hard days work cleaning up Trashy town he gets into his bubble bath ! My son loves that this big garbage collector has a bath just like him. Super sweet and colorful book that explains garbage collection is a nice way.
Valentine’s Day at our house isn’t about mom and dad getting dressed up and going out for a nice dinner (although maybe it will be again soon! ) instead we celebrate it as a family and talk about love, friendship and respect. These 14 picture books are about all kinds of love. Romantic, platonic and lots of love you find in families. Some of these may not even seem like books about love but dig a littler deeper and you’ll see they are… or at least I think they are. These are some of my very favorite picture books and I hope you love them too.
Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton. This author is a preschool parents dream, short and easy to read melodic books with illustrations to die for. The story is simply a little love song about all the ways the dog loves the puppy, simple and touching. As an educator something I love is that the dogs don’t have an obvious race , they don’t even have an obvious gender which is perfect. Regardless of who loves who in your family your child can see you in the dog and themselves in the puppy! I think that is the perfect valentine! My son didn’t warm up to this book right away, but now not only does he love it he is very very specific that only I can read it to him . It’s become a big favorite in our house.
Best Friends (Owen And Mzee) by Isabella and Craig Hatkoff is a board book with real photographs of the friendship of orphaned baby hippo and his 130 year old adoptive tortoise named Mzee. The text is simple and perfect for toddlers, although older children will better understand how amazing the story is. There are so many learning opportunities between these pages from the Tsunami, to learning about hippos and tortoises. The real lesson though is about friendship and I like that it shows animals being affectionate , something rare to see and something that can help foster a true appreciation for animals in young kids.
Princess Hyacinth (The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated) by Florence Parry Heide is such a fantastic ( and funny) fairytale about a little princess who has a very odd problem. She can’t keep her feet on the ground so her parents worried that she will literally float away weigh her down. The problem with being weighed down is that she can’t be herself and one day when she is set free to float she discovers that that is who she is. The only problem left is how does she get down? Luckily a little boy with a big heart and a kite comes to help . He’s not a rescuer coming to fix everything simply a true friend helping . His quiet actions teaches more about love than any grand romantic gesture. I love this book and the messages of breaking free from your limitations and of being yourself while staying connected to those you love.
Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joosse is a well loved book. I have read it many times but never reviewed it. There are a lot of books about children testing their mom’s unconditional love but this one stands out for me. In it the little girl seems to go out of her way to aggravate her mom and really test her love. The mother is fantastic because she isn’t gushy or sickeningly sweet, she says she would get angry , worried, sad depending on what her daughter tests her with. However after each honest answer she follows it up with how she will always love her. Kids need to know even if they make us sad or angry it doesn’t change the depth of our love for them.
Did I Tell You I Love You Today? by Deloris Jordan is a very practical yet heartwarming look at all the ways parents show love to their children everyday, from feeding them healthy food to praying after they go to bed. My son loved all the big boy things in the book like, the school bus, basketball and the playground. I teared up reading the book, but I cry at American Idol so that may not be indicative of anything!
Henry in Love by Peter McCarty is a sweet book that will transport you back to your elementary school crushes but it won’t just appeal to the adults it’s got plenty for the little ones too. Henry has a crush on Chloe although all that is every really said is that he thinks she is lovely. The best part is that Chloe seems to like him back. This book can teach children a lot about interpreting people’s actions to explain feelings. Simple but expressive illustrations give subtle clues that give great opportunities for conversations about what it means to love not just to feel love.
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.
The I LOVE YOU Book Kids need to know that love is unconditional and this book drives that point home is a simple , bright and funny way. I cried through reading most of it , but my son laughed and loved it. I specifically loved that the author includes that a child is loved even when they are sad, not sleeping and more. The cover of the book has a cut out heart shape and would be a great add on to a shape activity about hearts.
The Kissing Hand by Audry Penn is an absolute favorite . Chester is a raccoon who like most of us doesn’t like change. In his case it’s starting school. He wants to stay home with his mama and play with the friends he already has instead of going to school away from her and his friends. So his mama explains to him the magic of the kissing hand . The real magic is the message that we have to do things that scare us sometimes but that the love of our family is always with us to help us through. Go get this book.
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson is a much debated book. It’s the true story of two male penguins in central park zoo who didn’t have any interest in the girl penguins but definitely liked each other. When the zoo keepers noticed that they were in every way a matched pair they also noticed that they prepared for a baby just like the other penguins. Time after time they were sad until they were given an egg to care for. Just like all families love and care is what matters when creating a family and baby Tango and his two daddies have thrived . My son loved this book and asked me to please go see the penguins when I was in NYC. I didn’t have time to but I wish I had. Their story simplifies a very debated topic and I think it’s a great book not only to explain how all families are different but also how love and care are really what makes a family even for penguins.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak is one of those books that makes me cry just when I think of it. If you aren’t familiar with this book it’s not sad. It’s about a little boy who is acting up and gets sent to his room. While in his room his imagination runs wild and he is transported to a world where there are no rules , no parents and no consequences for bad behavior. Ultimately though Max’s heart pulls him back home where he is loved most of all, even when he’s wild. I think this is an amazing love story about parents and children and unconditional love.
Hair for Mama by Kelly A. Tinkham is beautiful. The story is about a little boy who is desperate to find some hair for his mama who has lost hers to chemotherapy. Marcus wants mama to be in the family photo but she doesn’t want to be the way she looks. His mission comes to a climax when he shaves off all his own hair hoping to give it to his mama. When the barber sweeps it up with the other hair on the floor Marcus is heart broken and goes home in tears. I was sobbing reading this, I knew it was a story about a mom having cancer but the way the author wrote it , it was magical. The complex emotions this little boy felt for his mom and she for him, jumped off the page and you can’t help but cry. I wasn’t sad ,I was touched by the love and desire to fix his mom and make everything better, and his parents tenderness to his feelings. I can’t recommend this book more highly. I should note that this is not a book for toddlers, I would probably wait until a child is 4-5 before reading them this gem.
The Boy Who Grew Flowers by Jennifer Wojtowicz is one of those books that stays with you. Rink is a little boy who’s family is strange, Rink is no exception, with every full moon he sprouts flowers , from his head. At school he is an outsider and only when a new girl comes to school does he make a friend. He reaches out to her because she too is an outsider, not at school, in her own family. In the end the kindred spirits celebrate their uniqueness. This odd romantic story will warm your heart and serves as a great lesson about how we all feel different and like an outsider sometimes. The illustrations by Steve Adams will stun you, they were so vibrant and paired so perfectly with the story. Wonderful!This post contains affiliate links.