There is something about children’s literature that is so magical. I have great memories of the summer reading program at my local library and in elementary school when I was little. There was always a fun theme and of course getting prizes based on the number of books or pages I read. When I was 19 I got to work for the summer reading program at Fletcher Free Library. I spent my days looking through delightful children’s books, planning book based activities for kids around the community, and listening to kids tell me about what they read in order for them to collect their own prizes. That summer was in the thick of the Harry Potter craze and the summer reading program felt just as magical as when I was a kid.
In my house we do a lot of reading. I have come across a few books that stand out in my memory reading with my kids from babies until now (they are currently ages 2 and 4), and I also have a bunch of books saved from my own childhood that I can’t wait to share with my kids when they are old enough.
Here are some of my favorites, what are some of yours?
For the under 5 crowd:
1. Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb by Al Perkins
A delightfully rhythmic and ryhming read about monkeys, drums, fingers, thumbs, apples and plums. Dum ditty dum ditty dum dum dum. One of my son’s first favorites.
2. Jamberry by Bruce Degen
Another whimsical rhyming book with beautiful illustrations.
3. Global Babies
A simple book featuring beautiful photography of babies from around the world. A sweet read and a great introduction to other cultures for wee ones.
4. That’s not my dragon… by Fiona Watt
A fun and tactile book that teaches kids unusual but useful adjectives. There are lots of other books in the series featuring pirates, monsters, monkeys, etc.
5. Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
I read this book with my kids already, though I’m sure they will still enjoy it (and understand it better) when they are older. It’s such a neat story comparing Sal and her mother to a mother bear and her cub while picking blueberries. It’s a great book to tie in to berry picking in the summer, another favorite kid activity.
For the elementary School crowd:
1. Ira Sleeps Over
A sweet and positive story about Ira’s anxiety and resolution over whether or not to bring his beloved teddy bear to his first sleep over. I loved this book so much I dressed up as Ira for Halloween at school in 2nd grade.
2. The Ramona Quimby series by Beverly Cleary
I loved Ramona growing up. I loved her feisty, tom-boyish nature. I also dressed up as Ramona with bunny ears (shown below) for Halloween one year at school. I also named one of my teddy bears Wooger, just like Ramona did. I don’t know how Ramona compares to one of the new beloved favorite series for little girls “Junie B. Jones” but I will always love her.
3. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Superfudge by Judy Blume
I loved Fudge’s hilarious antics, but also looked up to and sympathized for Peter. These fun books are definitely ones I hope my kids will enjoy too.
4. Old Mother West Wind series by Thornton W. Burgess
These books can be a bit difficult to read since they were originally written in 1910. However, the books are an imaginative series of short stories where all of natures creatures, even the winds and merry little breezes are anthropomorphized to describe why the natural world is the way it is. Perhaps these are what set me on my lifelong love of the natural world.
5. The Berenstain Bears series by Stan and Jan Berenstain
The Berenstain Bear books are called “First Time Books” and they always address a common issue in childhood such as having a new baby, going to school, moving, fighting, household chores, manners, trouble with friends. The list goes on and on. The books offer advice for parents and kids on how to deal with childhood challenges, and offer bright, detailed pictures that are fun to explore. I saved all my Berenstain Bear books from when I was a kid and already read them with my kids. My son loves them so much I’m actually tiring of reading them. Still, they are timeless and I’m sure my kids and I will keep reading them for years to come.