Christmas is just 8 days away and I’m sure you are all done shopping; I know I am (crossing fingers behind my back). But just in case you need to pick up one last gift (or ten), I thought I would share a few of my favorite children’s books. My husband and I are both avid readers – at least, we were before we had children. Somehow, in spite of our efforts to keep the gift giving under control, neither of us can resist buying books for the boys and we always end up with a giant pile without even meaning to. Some are put in gift bags and go under the tree, others are saved until the last day of Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa gifts traditionally include a book (to represent a commitment to learning) and a heritage symbol (to represent a commitment to one’s heritage).
The boys’ bookshelves are well-stocked and we regularly visit the library. But, you know as well as I do, any book starts to lose its charm after being read for the 3,129th time. I’m not sure that the boys’ short list of favorites would be the same as mine, but these five books are ones that hold their attention while also being charming, beautifully written, and gorgeously illustrated. These are ones that I fell in love with upon the first reading and am happy to see the boys pull off the shelves time and time again!
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- Otis by Loren Long – We just discovered Otis a couple of months ago and Bee immediately fell in love with the little tractor. We have since have checked out every Otis book we can find from the library! My little guy spotted “An Otis Christmas” in the Scholastic flyer than came home from preschool before Thanksgiving and has asked repeatedly when the book is coming. (Answer: On Christmas!) But my favorite Otis book is still the first. The illustrations are just beautiful, Otis is very relatable, and the relationship between Otis and a frightened calf is so sweet.
- Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers – If you haven’t read any Oliver Jeffers books, you are missing out! He has so many great ones. I love how he captures the fantastical, imaginative aspect of childhood while also telling an engaging story. In this book, “the boy” finds a penguin at his front door and sets out to return the penguin home. Together, they row across the ocean and a unique friendship unfolds. I want to add that I had a hard time deciding between this book and The Way Back Home for my top 5. “The Way Back Home” is another great one by Jeffers. “The boy” finds a plane in his closet and decides to “take it out for a go” (of course), which results in a breakdown moon landing and a run-in with an alien.
- Zephyr Takes Flight by Steve Light – Another book with a lovely dose of fantasy – Zephyr crawl through a hidden door in her bedroom and discovers a world of flying pigs. This, combined with the fact the main character is a smart, curious little girl who loves planes and her parents are depicted in non-gender-stereotyped roles, made this book an immediate favorite for me. I loved it from the very first read and it is easily in my top 5. Love, love, love.
- Little Rabbit’s New Baby by Harry Horse – Zip and I found this book at the library when I was pregnant with Bee, and it was by far the very best “preparing to be a big brother” book we read. The illustrations are so cute (imagine a rabbit hospital inside a giant tree, full of momma rabbits and their babies) and it captures Little Rabbit’s excitement about welcoming the new babies as well as the more challenging sides of becoming a big sibling. There is one scene where Little Rabbit cries to his parents, “You don’t love me anymore.” Zip and I talked about that scene and I remember how he would then say to Little Rabbit, each time we read the book, “Yes, they do!” It is a great book for new siblings but also a wonderful story for any child.
- I Love You, Little Monkey by Alan Durant – The illustrations in this book aren’t quite on par with the others but I love the lesson in this book and so do my boys. Big Monkey has work to do and wants Little Monkey to go play, but Little Monkey keeps making messes and Big Monkey gets frustrated. (Um, sound familiar at all?) In the end, they make amends: “I may not like the naughty things you do, but I love you always. Even when you are naughty.” We got this book when Zip was little and after reading it he started asking, “Do you still love me?” whenever he misbehaved. He knew the answer was yes, but of course he loved hearing it. Bee likes to tell me he still loves me even when I’m naughty!
You may also want to check out:
- Our Favorite Books Featuring Children of Color
- 5 Great Read-Aloud Chapter Books for Young Children
- The variety of children’s books featured on the Multiracial Resource Page
What is your favorite children’s book for preschoolers?