I once had my finger on the pulse of adult contemporary literature. But, alas, those days are behind me. Why? It’s simple: I read approximately six hundred times more children’s books than I do adult books. Sadly (and shockingly), this is not an exaggeration. My daughter completed the “1000 Books Before Kindergarten” challenge at our local library in about three months. And I read an adult book and a half in that time. Yipes.
It appears that my area of expertise has shifted a bit. Last year, at the request of a friend, I posted a list of kids’ books that I love (if you missed it, here is “Your Must-Have Kids’ Book List”). And, since writing that list, I’ve come across many new and wonderful books to share with you! This sequel to the original list is in two parts: 1) books that have been published since I wrote the last list, and 2) my daughter’s current favorites. Enjoy!
2016 KIDS’ BOOKS YOU SHOULD READ TO YOUR KIDS
These little gems feature lovely photographs of fruits and veggies in every color of the rainbow (I guarantee you’ll see a fruit or vegetable you’ve never seen before!). They are great primers and a good way to get kids excited about eating their nutritious foods.
- Digger, Dozer, Dumper by Hope Vestergaard, illustrated by David Slonim
My daughter loves trucks (“VROOOOOOM!”), and this is easily one of the best truck books around. Each page features a different truck (from a fire truck to a cherry picker) with a rhyming poem explaining the truck’s job.
- They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel
I can’t say enough good things about Brendan Wenzel. His illustrations are whimsical and beautiful, and he is a delightful person (see below). This book, his first as both author and illustrator, is a great lesson on point-of-view/perspective. The book shows how different animals (a dog, a bat, a snake, etc.) see things differently.
- The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His Grrrrr! by Rob Biddulph
Adorably illustrated anthropomorphic forest critters plus a sweet message. Like the bear on its cover, this book is a winner.
- The Night Gardener by the Fan Brothers
The story is a little trite, but, HOLY SMOKES, the illustrations are GORGEOUS.
- Penguin Problems by Jory John, illustrated by Lane Smith
Three words: wise walrus soliloquy. There’s nothing more that needs to be said, really.
- Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales
Alexie wrote The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is a fabulous (though controversial) middle-reader novel. This is his first foray into picture books. It’s not the greatest, best developed story, but it’s one of the few picture books featuring a Native American family. I can get behind that.
All Aboard for the Bobo Road by Stephen Davies, illustrated by Christopher Corr
I lived in Senegal for a while (years and years ago), and this book brought back memories of traveling in a car-rapide. I’m a big fan of using books to introduce my daughter to places and things she isn’t exposed to at home.
MOLLY’S TOP TEN FAVORITE BOOKS (FOR NOW)
My little one just turned sixteen months old. Thankfully, her attention span has grown beyond the most basic board books. If she likes it, she will gladly sit through a decently long picture book (often multiple times in a row). But she definitely has her preferences. In case you’re looking for a book for a kid of a specific age, my goal is to update this list every few months. Here are her current favorites (in no particular order):
They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel
You’ll notice that this is the only book that appears on both my list and Molly’s list. Molly has now met Brendan Wenzel twice (first at the Decatur Book Festival and then at a reading at our favorite local bookstore), and they have become fast friends. Here they are palling around.
Molly can’t get enough of this book. She will get it down off the shelf saying, “Cat! Cat! Cat!” Then she helps my husband or me read it aloud. Every time the word “cat” appears, she says it out loud (and it appears a LOT). She also has fun practicing her animal sounds (panting like a dog, buzzing like a bee, making fish face, etc.). She’s still a little young to understand why each animal sees the cat differently, but that will come. I have a feeling this is a book we’ll be enjoying for a long time.
- We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
Molly and I were introduced to this book at a story time specifically for itty-bitty kids. It has a lot of repetition and rhythm and is often read almost like a song. Here is the author reciting it:
- The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Molly received this book with a little Peter doll (available here) for her birthday. My husband is a master puppeteer and will read this to her while having Peter-the-doll act it out. She is a huge fan (and so am I!).
- I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt, illustrated by Cyd Moore
Honestly, this book is kind of annoying. But Molly loves it. I have no idea why.
- Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins (“Mama”)
A brief synopsis: a grumpy bear, Bruce, steals some goose eggs to make a delicious recipe he found on the interwebs. But, before his dish is complete, the eggs hatch, and the goslings imprint on Bruce. Molly LOVES the page where the goslings call Bruce “Mama!” and Bruce jumps back in surprise. She calls this book “Mama,” and it is adorable.
These books are basically interchangeable, so I’m counting them together as one. They are the cheesiest books in all the land, but they have very sweet messages. And Molly can’t get enough of them.
- Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Ray Cruz
I have no idea why Molly loves this classic so much. It has a lot of words, and the pictures are mostly black and white (with splashes of color). But, if she had her druthers, we would read this to her seventy-five times a day.
- Doggies by Sandra Boynton
Molly is OBSESSED with dogs. This is a counting primer with ten dogs (and one cat). Each dog has a different sound (barks, yips, arfs, etc.). I think she likes to hear me make ridiculous dog sounds. Who can blame her?
- Click, Clack, Moo by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin
My kid can get behind any book that features mooing, clucking, quacking, or oinking. This has been a favorite for several months now.
- The Birthday Box by Leslie Patricelli
When it’s story time, Molly will often bring a stack of Patricelli books over. This one appears to be her current favorite, probably because it features a dog named Oscar.
BONUS! A Few Books to Watch for in 2017:
- Life by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Brendan Wenzel
- Touch the Brightest Star by Christie Matheson (The board-book edition is being released. Molly is a big fan of Tap the Magic Tree, which is a great, interactive board book.)