These Are the Books You Should Read (According to My Two-Year-Old)

My daughter turned two last month. She is obsessed with puzzles, farm animals, coloring, the aquarium, Moana, stuffed pals, and, of course, books.

Like most toddlers, she has strong opinions. If polled, she will gladly tell you if a book is a “good book” or if it is “not so good.” These are the books that currently reside at the top of the “good book” list:

download.jpgPocket Full of Colors: The Magical World of Mary Blair, Disney Artist Extraordinaire
Written by Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville
Illustrated by Brigette Barrager

Ok, I’m gonna tell this to you straight: if you choose to get just one book on this list, this is the one to get. It’s a biography (yep, non-fiction) of Mary Blair, the artist responsible for designing the Disney ride “It’s a Small World.” (You can find out more about her and see samples of her art here.) 

My daughter LOVES this book, and so do I. Mary Blair was a creative, successful, badass woman. She knew her value and didn’t let stodgy dudes stifle her artistic vision. The book celebrates these qualities.

And, as an added bonus, it is replete with color vocabulary. Thanks to this brilliantly colorful tome, my kid can identify cerulean, sienna, celadon, and cerise. Huzzah! Continue reading

Your Must-Have Kids’ Book List: Part II

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!


Board books:

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.



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Your Must-Have Kids’ Book List


At only seven months old, my wee one already has over one hundred books in her library. We read about ten books every day and go to at least one story time each week. She has been to more author readings and book signings than most adults (Deborah Diesen, author of The Pout-Pout Fish, was her first; she saw Dan Santat, author of the Caldecott medal-winning Beeklelast week). This may seem a bit extreme for a baby, but let’s face facts: I’m pushing books hard.

So, when a friend asked me a couple weeks ago for some board book suggestions, I rattled off five or six without hesitation. Her reaction was a bit surprising. She responded:

I have to say, I mentioned to a couple of new mom friends that you gave me a few recommendations and they all went ape shit. I’ve had to send your list a couple of times. If you were to ever compile a Christi approved list of kid/baby books I think many moms would find it very helpful. There is just so much noise out there that it is really nice to get recommendations from someone who is actually using them and recommending more than the same old board books that everyone has several of in their library (I mean, Pat the Bunny is a classic, but it isn’t really stimulating and those pictures are downright creepy).

There are literally gajillions (LITERALLY) of board and picture books out there. And my friend is right–there aren’t many reliable, up-to-date lists to steer you in the right direction. To make matters worse, the pressure to add only quality books to your kid’s collection is high. Because, unlike adult books, which you normally read once before letting them collect dust on a shelf, you read each kids’ book approximately 700 million times.

So, here is a list of my favorite board and picture books. I tried to avoid the classics that everyone already knows and loves (but, just to be on the safe side, I did include a few that cannot be overlooked). Happy reading! Continue reading

#tbt, Part 3: Halloween Edition!

Punkin Carvin' 2006 065


Here I am, all dolled up in my very first Halloween costume:


If this picture is any indication, I wasn’t all that into Halloween that year (you wouldn’t be, either, if your introduction to Halloween included that horrifyingly scary Mickey Mouse costume).

But, as I got a little older, I became a huge fan of Halloween.

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#tbt, Part 2: Three Great Books I Read to My “Kids” (and You Should Read to Yours!)

It’s time for another round of #tbt!  (If you missed Part 1, here it is.)

This time, the throwback is to 5th grade  . . .  but not when I was a student.  I’m looking back at some of the books that made a big impact on me when I taught elementary school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

When I was teaching, my favorite time of day was the 20 minutes or so directly after recess in the early afternoon.  The kids would come in from outside, breathless and full of energy (and a little stinky from being out in the Louisiana heat), but acting like angels.  Without a peep, the 33 of them would file in and arrange themselves quietly on the reading rug.

When everyone was settled and perfectly quiet (no “shh-ing” necessary), I would sit on my chair in front of them, open a book, and start to read.  For those 20 minutes, the only sounds you would hear from the kids were laughter and the occasional gasp of delight or surprise.  They loved reading time.

Here are three of my favorite books that I read aloud to my kids and that you should read aloud to yours (if you don’t have kids, you should still read these books, but maybe not aloud): Continue reading

#tbt, Part 1: Six Books That Made Me Love Reading

It’s #tbt!  (That’s Throwback Thursday, for those of you who aren’t up on the teen hashtag lingo.)  I am not one for posting awkward photos of myself in glasses and braces and tight-rolled jeans . . . but I am going to dedicate this post to some blasts from the past.


My brother and me with our library books

A lot of adults who love reading have loved books for as long as they can remember.  That is certainly the case for me.  I have great childhood memories of books.  My mom took my brother, John, and me to the library once a week.  Our age dictated the number of books we were allowed to borrow (when I was four, I could check out four books).  My parents read to me every night (and day, for that matter), and I loved it.  They are both great read-aloud readers (you know the kind–different voices, good changes in inflection, etc.).  Even when I was a little, bitty kid, I thought books were great.

So, in honor of #tbt, I’m devoting this post to some of my favorites from way back.  In no particular order, here are six amazing books you should read to your little kids (or your grandkids or your nieces and nephews or your friends’ kids): Continue reading