Kid-lit: a PSA

Off topic a bit, its holiday and birthday season around here and in this house we really like to give and receive books. But… There is something really important that every giver of children’s books should do before they buy any kids a book. Read it. Out loud if possible. If you don’t want to do that, I don’t either. As the reader of many stories, I can tell you not all kid books are created equal and some are down right awful. It is torture when you have to read (out loud) for the billionth time the awful drivel of a crummy book. And its not going to encourage any kid to love books if they are poorly written and the adults want to avoid reading them because they’d rather claw their own eyes out…

And there is nothing better then then a good story. So, a short list* of some of our beloved favorites:


Kermit the Hermit **

Three Billy Goats Gruff

The Owl and the Pussycat

Cross-Country Cat

Make Way for Ducklings

And the #1 book in this house, Sheep in a Jeep

EDIT: And how on earth did I almost forget Tikki Tikki Tembo!?

I could go on, but really what I want to know is what are your favorites? Either current or remembered, we’d love to hear about them, because when you read each book millions and billions and trillions of times, its nice to have variety.

*Omitting the really obvious, of course we love anything Maurice Sendak, anything Dr. Seuss, Goodnight Moon, Are you my mother, etc…

** Our copy of Kermit the Hermit has now belonged to 3 generations of my family! I’m surprised it still has a spine.


(Disclaimer: all links to Amazon for simplicity, if you do want to find any of these titles for any of the small people you know, please check your local library or consider ordering them from a local bookshop if you can)


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24 Responses to Kid-lit: a PSA

  1. Trista says:

    What a nice post! My children are grown, so I am not up on this subject for the newer books, but I have to agree with your list having a book by Bill Peet. My son especially loved ‘Cowardly Clyde’ by Bill Peet. I don’t think I read it even once that it didn’t get uproarious belly laughs from him. There are some great sounding words in this one! My son also loved a simple little book so much even at four years old, that we had the bakery design the top of his birthday cake after a page in the book, ‘Sheep in a Jeep’ by Nancy Shaw, with a toy jeep and toy sheep I bought and a big mud puddle of icing. This one is nice aloud too. My very favorite children’s book for the reading aloud quality is ‘Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices’ by Paul Fleischman. This one is so unique and lovely to hear. You and your husband would both read alternating sections and later your son could read one voice as one of you reads the other- I highly recommend it! I see on Amazon that this author has another one I don’t know, about birds, ‘I am Phoenix: Poems for Two Voices’ . Joyful Noise is about bugs. Well, if I think of another book thatI must share, I’ll post again later. Happy storytime!

    • admin says:

      Lots of new ones for us! Thank you, and please keep them coming if you think of more. -Bill Peet is really the best. I also for got to put William Steig on the list- Brave Irene, Sylvester and the magic pebble, Solomon and the Rusty Nail…

  2. Trista says:

    Oh- you already have ‘Sheep in a Jeep’! I didn’t see it there on your post till just now! Okay, I’m sure now he will love the other 2 I recommended.

  3. misa says:

    Obviously The Owl and the Pussycat is an all time fave since I knit a dress with it on it. A rarely recognized but really great read aloud book that is one of my favorites is The Seven Silly Eaters, awesome illustrations and the text swings you along.

  4. Allyson says:

    This is a suggestion for younger children. Anything by Sandra Boynton is a fun read aloud (and most of her books are available as board books for the little ones). The absolute favorite in our house was “Moo, Baa, La La La”. My daughter is graduating high school this year and I still have the words to that book memorized. Eric Carle books were also very popular at our home — the stories are simple, but pleasant and the artwork really adds to the books.

    Once my daughter was a bit older, “Stellaluna” was a favorite (I’m afraid I don’t remember the author of this book). It’s about a small bat who gets separated from her mother and is raised by a family of birds. As in most children’s books, eventually she is reunited with her mom. It’s the perfect story for kids who are really into nature, etc. And, I liked that it was about a bat — not an animal that is usually portrayed in books. The story is quirky and sweet. I’m not sure if it is still available, but there used to be a computer program available as an interactive read-along for this book. It was amazing. The soundtrack and added details only enhanced to the actual story. (I didn’t care for most of the lit.-based computer programs available way back then.)

    • admin says:

      Sandra Boynton is great- we’re still hanging on to a very beat up copy of ‘Barn yard dance’ that has been here since the first year. Thank you for reminding me of Stellaluna! I used to work in a library and that book was ALWAYS going in and out in and out but I had forgotten it. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is classic!

  5. erin says:

    My girls are much older, but we loved the Piggins series, the main character is a butler/pig. Awesome illustrations, great story line. My top favorite is called The Rainbabies, an older couple finds a dozen tiny babies that they care for until the Moon Queen comes to collect them back. Again, beautiful pictures, touching story. Barbara Cooney stories were well loved, Miss Rumphius, Hattie and the Wild Waves, and Eleanor were frequently requested to be read. No Jumping on the Bed is hysterical and reads with nice rhythm and rhyme And never to be left on a list of must haves, Where the Wild Things Are..

    • admin says:

      Ooo we don’t know some of these! We’ve seen the Piggins’ in the store but the others are new to us, thanks you!

  6. Emily W says:

    My absolute favorite book as a child was Max Makes a Million by Maira Kalman. It is the clever and funny tale of a dog named Max whose dream is to move to Paris and be a poet. The book is beautifully illustrated with slightly wacky watercolor illustrations, and it’s a book that I still amuses me and brings me joy.

  7. BeckyinVT says:

    Seconding Sandra Boyton! My favorite growing up was “Hippos go Berserk!” I also really loved Virginia Lee Burton – Katy and the Big Snow might be appropriate for your snowy hillside 😛

    • admin says:

      Mike Mulligan and Maryann! We have TWO copies of that one and a CD that narrates all the Virginia Lee Burton books for car rides and such!

  8. Amy says:

    Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson remains one of my favorites, and apparently he has a bunch of other Harold books that I never knew about. I also enjoyed reading a bunch of Dr. Seuss books when I was little, and the Richard Scarry books—I’d spend hours looking for Goldbug!

    • admin says:

      Those were some of my favorites as a kid too- we’ve been reading lots more of Harold in just the last few weeks actually. I the Busytown books AND a playset of the farm when I was a kid so much better then stinking Waldo…

  9. Kathy L. says:

    We love the books on your list at our house, also. Someone mentioned Stella Luna (by Jayne Cannon) which is another one of our favorites. My 5-year-old loves the Julia Donaldson books. She has written The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child, Room on the Broom, The Snail and the Whale, and many, many more. These have a great rhythm to them and very cute illustrations.

  10. Kathleen says:

    A few of our favorites: Small, Small, Pond by Denise Flemming (she has lots of others that are fun too), Slinky Malinky by L. Dodd, The Big Green Pocketbook by C. Ransom, Seven Silly Eaters by M. Hoberman, and the Francis books by Hoban are the ones that come to mind right now. Let us know when you are ready for chapter books.

  11. Trista says:

    I just thought more books that my son absolutely loved, ‘Six-Dinner Sid’ by Inga Moore (the original book; I don’t know the sequel) This one always made him laugh and of course he related to Sid the cat since my son has always been a rebel too. Perhaps he liked the community lesson too that says he won’t always get away with things or that there is a safety net of love in a healthy community. ‘Animalia’ by Helen Barbara Berger is lovely if he is an animal lover. This one is a collection of animal stories and would be a very good transition to chapter books from picture books. The illustrations in Animalia are amazing and will hold the interest of a young child and the stories have a spiritual nature to them.

  12. Alli says:

    I work in a library and I love flipping through new and new-to-me kids books!
    A new one that is really fun is “Press Here”
    it is sort of an interactive book. Very clever.
    If you have dogs or your kid loves dogs I recommend “Once I ate a Pie”
    and two more that I loved as a kid (possibly biased since I’m from Alaska): “Danger: the Dog Yard Cat” and “Kiana’s Iditarod”

    Also pretty much everything by Jan Brett!

  13. Carol Vargas says:

    Angus and the Cat, Angus Lost, Angus and the Ducks, The Story about Ping, The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes (all by Marjorie Flack)

  14. JM says:

    Have you read What Pete Ate from A to Z, by Maira Kalman? Lovely and fun to read aloud, and has lasted from 0 to 8 years!