These days it feels like all I read are kids books. And I can now say with a bit of authority that the vast majority of children’s books can get tedious—especially after you’ve read them about 15 times (in one night).
When you know a book is likely to be read and reread, you look for any light in the dark. I like books that are funny and are fun to read aloud. That means, they have varying sentence structure, surprising stories, and maybe a little bit of poetry.
This is not a comprehensive list. There are great books that come out every year, and I can’t claim to read them all…but I do have a few authors I look for and make sure I pick up when new titles come out. Here are some of my favorites.
When it comes to board books, stories that make you laugh are pretty rare. Sandra Boynton books have actually made me laugh out loud.
The first one I picked up was “The Going to Bed Book,” but each one we’ve borrowed or bought has been equally charming. The animal characters are gentle and fun. Illustrations are simple and sweet. She deftly maneuvers through stories with gorgeous prose and a great absurdist sense of humor. Further, the subjects of the stories contain terrific lessons, from emotional management to counting, and ABCs.
Jan Thomas is a masterclass in minimal story-telling. The images are one dimensional, the backgrounds are nonexistent, and the text is usually limited to one sentence word bubbles.
And yet, the stories are a delight.
“I don’t want to give anything away, but in “A Birthday for Cow,” only one character really knows what Cow really wants for their birthday. But there is so much fun in the mistakes made along the way.
Jan Thomas books are great for beginning readers and for family evening story time.
Mo Willems is a new one for us. We discovered him just this year as we were looking for great early reader books.
The Elephant & Piggie series features my favorite friends since the Frog and Toad books I loved as a child.
Each book is a gem, with interesting dialogue and fun asides. The stories solve humorous dilemmas through kindness and friendship, without ever turning didactic.
The “We Are In a Book” story breaks the fourth wall in such a heartwarming way, I want to read the story again and again.
There are so many other books we love, but these are the ones I continue to want to pore over. What are your favorites for your children? I would so love to know what delightful authors you’ve found.