Monday, January 24, 2011

Too cold to play outside? Bring on the books!

The last few days, it has been brutally cold in New England. Today, it was -16°. No, that is not a typo: MINUS SIXTEEN. And we have about four feet of snow on the ground, with another foot or two supposedly on the way later this week. (Goody.)

Anyway, since the weather is simply not kid-friendly (or adult friendly, for that matter), we've been finding ways to entertain C indoors. And I am beyond thrilled to say that one of her favorite things to do is to read. There are tons and tons of "best kids' books" lists out there, but since C's favorites include some classics and some newer reads, I thought it would be fun to publish my own mini-list. In no particular order, here's a short list of some of C's prime picks:

1. The Red Lemon, by Bob Staake 
This book is completely charming. Farmer McPhee, a lemon farmer, finds a red lemon in his orchard. Bright, colorful illustrations, and a lot of fun to read. (A side note: I read this to C's class one day, and the kids were fighting to sit on my lap. That's how good this book is, people.)

2. Moomin's Lift-the-flap Hide and Seek, by Tove Jansson
My parents went to Sweden this summer, and brought back this book for C. The creatures on each page have silly names (Snorkmaiden, Fillyjonk, Stinky), which just cracks her up. And there's not much that's cuter than a two-year old's belly laugh.

3. Harry The Dirty Dog, by Gene Zion
My husband and I both remember reading this book as kids...and since it was originally published in 1956, I'd be willing to bet some good money that my parents probably read it, too. C enjoys reading it now, and maybe some day, her kids will read it as well.

4. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive The Bus, by Mo Willems
I love, love, LOVE this book. Mo Willems' illustrations are so fun, and require the reader to really ham it up. (They do in our house, anyway.) Wheedling, negotiating pigeon? Check. Full-on pigeon meltdown? Check. New love at the end of the story? Check. We recently received Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late as a gift, and I'm thinking that will soon be on a regular rotation, too.

5. Potty, by Leslie Patricelli
C is starting to show some interest in using a potty, so this book is high on our list. We have most of Leslie Patricelli's books, and all of them feature a curious little guy who only seems to wear diapers, except for when he's sleeping. C has started to "read" some of these books back to us.

6. Ten Black Dots, by Donald Crews
I'm convinced that this clever book has helped C learn how to count to ten. She likes to point out all of the dots (though she also sometimes thinks that they're indicative of pop-up flaps), and every time she sees a train, she yells, "Carrying freight through sun and rain!"

7. Mother Goose (various)
We have so many versions of Mother Goose, I feel like the old woman in the shoe...but with books, not kids. That being said, each of these books are wonderful, for different reasons: Tomie's Little Mother Goose has lots of short poems, which is helpful for squirmy toddlers/short attention spans. The Real Mother Goose has just one rhyme on each facing page, making it a quick read for bedtime, and My Very First Mother Goose has more than 100 pages: a Mother Goose anthology! I was very surprised at how many rhymes I remembered from my own childhood...and how many I'd never heard before.  

8. Where Is the Green Sheep?, by Mem Fox 
Rainbow-colored sheep dancing, singing, and being brave: what's not to love? Very sweet, easy-to-read book, with lots to look at.  

9. Find Your ABC's, by Richard Scarry
Another classic from my own/my husband's childhood. This is actually intended for kids a little older (4 - 8, according to Amazon), but C enjoys looking at all of the pictures and pointing out Sam and Dudley (the protagonists) on each page. She's gotten really good at finding some very obscure objects, too. 

10. C Goes Apple Picking, by GiGi
OK, so this book isn't available for purchase online, but I had to mention it, because C loves it, and I know I'll always treasure it, too. My mom made C a custom photo book, using photos that she took when we went apple picking together, and C asks us to read it again and again. My mom claims it was incredibly easy and fun to put together, and lots of photo-sharing companies (Snapfish, KodakGallery) offer this type of keepsake book. I'm hoping that one of these days, I'll get around to creating one myself. 

So that's our list. It changes and grows on an almost weekly basis, of course, but if you have little kids and are looking for some new reading material, I hope this helps. Please share your favorites in the comments!