These are our top 10 favorite books from reviews we did this year. Some are newly published books, some might be your old faves that were new to us in 2010.
It Hurts When I Poop!: A Story for Children Who Are Scared to Use the Potty by Howard J. Bennet was a lifesaver for us. Many kids start holing their poop after one painful one, and that happened here and we went from no issues to fussing, fighting the potty, and finally, he admitted he was scared it will hurt. Of course, holding it made that worse but try to explain that to a frightened toddler. This book was amazing. The story is long, I skipped some text with my son, but read it all for myself since it’s packed with awesome information for parents too! The book explains digestion, why it hurts, and how to make it better on a kid’s level as well as in more detail for parents. I can’t recommend this more for parents who’s children have hit this very common but very distressing problem.
In the Town All Year-Round by Rotraut Susanne Berner is amazing. It’s premise are the comings and goings of a town in all four seasons. There is limited text, which serves only to steer readers to look for specific people in the highly detailed illustrations. Each season has multiple pages and the people remain constant throughout the seasons. So you see inside an apartment building , the town square, the park, railroad station, etc, in every season. You see the changes in town, the progression, and of course the distinct weather in each section. The pictures also progress within the seasons, so a fire truck with a flashing light can be seen on every page in one season with the last page showing it getting to the fire. I can’t possibly explain the amazing detail and the sheer number of things to find, make up stories about and spark your child’s imagination in this book. My son adores it. After renewing it multiple times from our library I bought it as his Valentine’s gift. It goes everywhere with us, perfect for long drives , waits in the OB’s waiting room, and plain old playtime he picks it up every day and finds something new.
What I really love is that because there is no text but still multiple storylines it’s helped my son to understand that literacy isn’t just about words, it’s about explaining what’s going on and reading the pictures too. The absence of text has allowed me to really show him that. Now he has started grabbing books with text and telling me he’d read me the pictures, which boosts both his confidence and his enjoyment of independent reading.
Ballerino Nate by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is on my must-buy list. I don’t say that often, especially with such a great public library, but this book is wonderful. Nate is a little boy who after seeing a ballet school production with his class at school, decides he too wants to take ballet. Of course, his older brother has something to say, and say and say but Nate is pretty confident, with the help of his parents, that boys can take ballet. I love that Nate wants to dance but he hates the idea that he might have to wear pink, clearly pink is not a good thing to him, he just wants to dance. what I love about this book as a woman who spent more than her fair share of time at a ballet bar in her growing up years, is that it depicts boy dancers well. The stereotype of a “sissy” doesn’t often fit and I knew many boys that danced that were masculine and graceful. I encourage parents of boys and girls to read this, to open our kids’ horizons to be interested in whatever their heart desires, not to what older brothers, neighbors, or anyone else tells them to be.
Road Builders by B.G. Hennessy was a birthday gift for my son in November 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.
Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse by Rebecca Janni is everything a children’s book ought to be. It’s clever, cute, and has a great message without being preachy. It’s Nellie Sue’s birthday and the one thing she really wants is a horse. See she is a cowgirl, everything she does she relates back in her imagination to some chore on the farm. When she is cleaning out her guinea pig cage, she is “cleaning the stalls at the barn” and when she is filling her dog’s water bowl she is “filling the trough”. When her birthday surprise isn’t a horse but a bike instead she is a little skeptical but with her imagination and true cowgirl spirit she makes it into the best horse ever! I loved how her parents play along with her imagination but don’t simply get her a horse, rather they present her the bike as if it is one, on her own terms. Great book!
Doctor Meow’s Big Emergency by Sam Lloyd was taken out of the library late last week and has been read at least twice a day since, we both know it off my heart. In the book readers meet Dr. Meow and her trusty ambulance driver Woof as they care for patience and rush to the aid of Tom Cat who has been injured falling out of a tree. Really it’s a story about being kind to others and forgiving, as Tom Cat learns not to pick on little Mr. Bird and in turn Mr. Bird forgives Tom Cat for his mistakes. Both my son and I loved the little cheeky details, humor, and fun little world that the author-illustrator created in this book.
Snowman in Paradise by Michael Roberts is genius. There I said it. I very rarely think that of books. I like the majority of books I read and think there are so many good ones to share but I don’t want to return this one to the library, I want to keep it! The book is about a snowman from Manhattan who is glum after Christmas and wants to go on a vacation too. A magical bluebird grants his wish and he flies first class to a tropical island, with the only rule being he needs to come back in time for Christmas next year. This book is written like the traditional “Night Before Christmas” and although I thought the copy would be too long for my son at first, I was so wrong. The rhymes are unique, my favorite being :
In May after splashing with buckets of paint, He threw down his brush, saying, “Gauguin I ain’t.”
Even if some references are more for the adults reading it than the children listening, both parties will close the book smiling and wanting to start all over again. Grab it and see why I love it so much!
Baby on the Way by William Sears MD, Martha Sears RN, and Christie Watts Kelly has been the very best baby book we’ve found. It explains much of pregnancy from nausea, to aching feet and even nesting. It also describes labor in a really kid-friendly non-intimidating way. I love that it explains that in mommy’s belly is a baby holder called a uterus. My son has been asking me how my uterus is since reading this daily for the past week. Explaining contractions, that others will likely be taking care of them for a little while and what mommy is doing when she is not with you is all really useful. It also goes on to explain what babies will do, like nursing, crying, and what that funny crinkled thing is on its belly! The book also offers many many resources for expectant parents.
Firefighter Frank by Monica Wellington was a huge score at the library. My son and I both love this author/illustrator and have read many of her books, but this one has never been available, and I can see why. The author has a knack for sharing information with her readers in a fun, simple way that is perfect for preschoolers. This book is no exception to her other great books. I particularly enjoy some of the vocabulary she uses in this book about Firefighter Frank, words like shrill, intense, and exhausted. They aren’t obscure words but they are not often seen in books geared to those as young as this one, and the context is supportive so that even a young child can help decipher the meaning of the words. The book itself tells a simple( and common) story but between the author’s ability to tell the story better than other authors, and the bright and beautiful illustrations this book stands out from the firefighter crowd.
One Red Apple by Harriet Ziefert is stunning. I really enjoy this author but most of my praise for this book lands squarely on the illustrator Karla Gudeon’s shoulders. WOW. I just adore the look, and creativity of this book. The story follows the cycle of one apple from the orchard, to market back to seed, tree, and back into the hands of a child. I enjoy books like this that simply explain the cycles of the natural world to young kids, but you can’t miss this one. As I turned each page I gasped, it’s one of those books you just need to sit and look at because each time you do, you find some little detail you missed before.