I’ve been reading books aloud to my kids for 15 years straight. In that time, we’ve checked out approximately a million library books and added approximately half a million books to our home collection.
I LOVE well-written children’s books and I’ve often given books as gifts.
Why give kids books?
- Imagine a friend gives you a gift certificate for two spa pedicures — one for her and one for you — so that the two of you can visit the spa together. Not only do you receive a treat, but you also receive the even better treat of time with your friend. That’s what books are. Treats to be shared.
- Cultivating a love of books in kids is crucial. Reading adds richness and learning and enjoyment to life. Plus, our kids are the readers and writers of the next generation!
- Books are durable and can be enjoyed again and again for years. Sibling after sibling. Child after grandchild.
- No kid needs another video game, Barbie, or Lego set. Also, I don’t recommend the Wubble Bubble ball.
Over the years, many books have come and gone that my kids liked. But the books I’ve included in the list below are a much rarer thing. These are the books that both my kids and I have thoroughly enjoyed. These are the books I don’t mind pulling down and reading for the thousandth time. And that, friends, is a high bar.
Best for Babies:
Here’s a look inside Counting Kisses….
Best for Girls:
Plus, the artwork is delicious. In the below scene, Nancy is finally able to dress her family up ‘fancy’…
Best for Boys:
The Dinosaur series of books by Jane Yolen all begin with depictions of dinosaurs exhibiting terrible behavior. Then they go on to assure kids that’s not how dinosaurs really act and show the dinosaurs behaving well.
Richard Scarry wrote books from the 1950’s through the early 90’s. I fondly remember reading his books when I was a child. We have a handful of his books on our family shelf, but Cars and Trucks and Things That Go is our definite favorite because a tiny critter named Goldbug is hiding somewhere on every page. All three of my kids, my son and my daughters, have loved trying to beat mommy or daddy by spotting Goldbug first.
Um… Goldbug’s tiny. I added a red arrow so you’d have a prayer of seeing him in the below photo.
Ever heard of Dr. Seuss? There’s a reason you have. It’s because he’s awesome. His rhymes dance off your tongue and are a delight to read. His stories brim with humor and heart. Green Eggs and Ham and the above two are my personal top 3 Seuss books.
Best Books about Character:
Cookies was recommended to me by a friend. I adored it so much that I went on to buy Sugar Cookies and Christmas Cookies. The author, Amy Krause Rosenthal, explains character traits by using cookies. For example, “Trustworthy means, If you ask me to hold your cookie until you come back, when you come back, I will still be holding your cookie.”
I’m not much of a crier. But these three books are guaranteed to make me cry. Someday and Love You Forever both deal with a mother’s love for her child and the bittersweet passage of time. I boo-hoo-ed through the end of Charlotte’s Web because it spun (pun intended) such a beautiful picture of friendship.
My favorite children’s book author is the amazing Kevin Henkes. I highly recommend any of his “mice” books. They’re real and heartwarming and funny and they’re garnished with the most charming of illustrations.