I don’t consider myself an expert by any means; however, I’ve somehow managed to raise three kids into teen-hood (plus, babysat for countless other kiddos). I’ve always been a big reader and loved reading with my kids, as well as those I cared for over the years. This list is the books that I consider to be my top ten books to read with your younger children. In the list, I’m going to attempt to avoid “fad” style books (such as Bear in the Big Blue House, Dora, Doc McStuffins, and such), as those fads are ever changing. In this list, you’ll find classic children’s books that have withstood the test of time, that many of us can relate to and that our kids will one day buy for their own.
1. I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt and Cyd Moore
I love you, Stinky Face is very near and dear to my heart. It was my middle child’s favorite book, which he still has, that tells of a Mother’s Unconditional Love for her child. In the book the mother is telling her child how much she loves him, as the child continues with more extravagant ideas, such as “But Mama, but Mama, what if I were a super smelly skunk, and I smelled so bad that my name was Stinky Face?”. Each time she counters with a different way she would care for him and show her love. The illustration is vivid and beautiful as well, so will be hit for parents and kids, alike.
2. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
“I do not eat green eggs and ham, I do not like them Sam I am!” As the protagonist exclaims his dislike for Green Eggs and Ham, which he has not tried, Sam continues with different ways he could try them, in rhyme. At the end of the story, our protagonist finally tries the green eggs and ham and recounts all the different ways he will enjoy them to Sam. While repetitive it teaches children to try new things and is kinda catchy, without getting too annoying (although I had to fight the urge to write this whole description in rhyme).
3. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch
I still have the tattered copy that my Mom gave me many years ago, well after I was of the age to truly appreciate the story (I believe I was a teenager). I read that exact copy to my children and was touched by the tale of unending love between a mother and child. Recently I read the story behind the song and book, which is a tribute to Mr. Munsch’s deceased children, and realized the labor of love the book truly was. You can read the story, in his own words, on Robert Munsch’s website (have a tissue handy). If you don’t have the book, do yourself a favor, and get it. After reading his story the book is so much more touching.
4. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Where the Wild Things Are was not only written, but also illustrated, by Maurice Sendak. I will admit that, although I absolutely love the illustrations, Where the Wild Things Are generally wouldn’t make my personal top ten. However, this list is NOT about adults, it’s about what the littles enjoy. This was definitely a personal favorite of my children (even though they didn’t care for the movie) and I spent many a day reading it repeatedly.
5. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst (author) and Ray Cruz (illustrator)
We all have bad days and when Alexander wakes up with gum in his hair, he knows he’s going to have a horrible day. His day keeps getting worse, and he even discusses moving to Australia to escape his woes. Simply it is a classic (it’s been around since 1972) and is being made into a film. It’s a great way to show kids that everyone has bad days, but you just have to find the good in life.
6. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff (author) and Felicia Bond (illustrator)
Beware if a hungry mouse shows up at your doorstep, because if you give him a cookie he’s going to end up with an endless list of demands (milk, mirror to check for a milk mustache, etc). Frankly, it’s a fun book. Kids and adults alike will enjoy it, and who couldn’t use a little fun in their life?
7. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (Author) and Clement Hurd (Illustrator)
After a long day, Goodnight Moon is a great way to easy your little into bed time. Add a soft soothing tone while reading and your little is bound to say Goodnight Moon, along with the little bunny in the story, fairly quick.
8. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper (author) and Loren Long (illustrator)
This classic story tells the tale of determined little engine who, despite great obstacles, manages to pull a train full of toys to waiting children on the other side of the mountain. It’s a wonderful story to encourage children to never give up, even when things seem hard or impossible.
9. Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss
Since this is the second Dr. Seuss book on the list, I’m sure that you can see that he’s a personal favorite around here. Hop on Pop is catchy and funny (“Three fish in a tree? How can that be?”). It’s also vividly illustrated. Bonus points because it’s a “Beginner” book and will help your little when they are ready to start learning to read.
10. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney (author) and Anita Jeram (illustrator)
The book tells the tale of Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare comparing how big their love is for each other. As any parent knows there is no way to explain how big our love for our children is and the book essentially helps explain that to young children. Plus, my kids would always come up with crazy amounts they “loved” me after we would read the book, which always made me happy.
I promised no fads but is Sesame Street really a fad? I loved it when I was small and it is still around today! However, since I promised to avoid fads, I will count this as a bonus entry, because I still love this book.
The Monster at the End of This Book starring Lovable, Furry Old Grover by Jon Stone (author) and Michael Smollin (illustrator)
Throughout the book Grover begs the reader not to turn the page because there is a monster at the end of the book. When you arrive to the end of the book the monster is none other than Grover! It’s a delightful, timeless story, that kids and adults will both enjoy.