One of the first things I wanted to do when we moved was to get a library card. I used to have a major book buying
habit problem, but #oneincome will cure a person of that problem pretty quickly. Plus, they have a cute story time once a week for the kiddos and it helps us to get out of the house. The first time we walked into our new library, my daughter twirled around slowly, eyes wide, and breathlessly whispered, “Oh, Mom, it’s SO beautiful.” She is for sure my kid. Now, this isn’t a huge library. We are in a relatively small town, and the public library is actually housed inside the high school. But it’s a library full of books nonetheless and she loves it.
I’ve written about my passion for books and reading before, and becoming a mom has only solidified and really increased that passion. Dr. Seuss wrote, I’ve heard this quote over and over and didn’t know where exactly it had come from, but McKinley decided to check out I Can Read with My Eyes Shut by Dr. Seuss this week, and there it was! Even though it’s a cute little rhyme, there is so much truth in it. Reading is a skill that is absolutely essential. There are not many occupations that do not require some type of reading. There is not a way to invent something new or start a business or follow most dreams that doesn’t involved reading of some kind. Being able to read puts people on an even playing field; economic status, language, gender, physical differences, race, cannot keep people from reading, and technology has made this even more true in the last couple of years. Thanks to libraries, reading can be a completely free hobby. It only costs time if a person is willing to put it in. And furthermore, it has been proven by researchers that readers of fiction are more empathetic. In our crazy broken world, we can only win by having more readers in it.
With that said, there’s been a growing trend lately to minimize the amount of stuff we give our children for Christmas and I, for one, love it. The idea is to only give each child four gifts: something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. I truly believe that a love for reading best begins early, and in our house, we make it a priority to read books aloud every day, even to the baby (who LOVES them!). And also, let me just throw out there that kids learn to love reading by watching other people love reading as well, especially mom and dad, wink wink. So, I’m here to help you out with the “something to read” category in case you’re out of ideas. This is a list of some of our favorites in this house (and some favorites from my elementary teaching days). I have provided the link to each one to Amazon (and no, I’m not affiliated with Amazon, so I won’t profit from this post, although I should maybe figure that out someday).
- All things Sandra Boynton, she is funny and has great illustrations and the books are simple and silly and most rhyme and right now, hers are the only one baby B wants to read. He giggles every time. My daughter has a bunch of them memorized and loves to read to brother at bedtime, too! Our favorites include: Pajama Time, The Going to Bed Book, Hippos Go Berserk, and Blue Hat, Green Hat.
- Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry, a sweet book about friendship and kindness.
- My First… Series (DK Publishing) there are books about colors, animals, numbers, all kinds of fun things to look at and talk about with your kiddo.
- Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, because of course, it’s a classic.
- It’s Time to Sleep, My Love by Nancy Tillman, a great bedtime story with beautiful illustrations.
- The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone, this is just the best.
- I Love You, So by Marianne Richmond, such a sweet book about why we love our babies.
- And, just in case you want to become a blubbering idiot in front of your kids, let me recommend:
- Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems, these are hilarious and my daughter loves to split up the dialogue with me where she reads the pink speech bubbles (Piggie) and I read the gray ones (Gerald the Elephant). Our favorites include: The Thank You Book, We Are in a Book, Should I Share My Ice Cream?, and My Friend is Sad
- While we’re on Mo Willems, The Pigeon books, our favorites: The Pigeon Wants a Puppy, The Duckling Gets a Cookie?!, and Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late.
- The Book with No Pictures by BJ Novak, HILARIOUS!
- Pete the Cat books by James Dean, our favorite is Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes, but really they are all great.
- Eric Carle books- all. They are wonderful.
- The Napping House by Audrey Wood, this one follows a pattern and after a while, your little one will be “reading” right along with you.
- If You Give a… books by Laura Numeroff. These are just fun!
- Press Here and Mix it Up! by Hervé Tullet, these are interactive and help teach kiddos about following directions and also about colors.
- BOB Books and Step up to Reading sets, these are phonics-based and are great for beginning readers. The first ones are mostly full of three and four letter words, using specific phonics sounds and sight words. They have given my little reader lots of confidence and she loves when she masters one and gets to pick the next one!
Elementary Picture Books
- Dr. Seuss books, these usually rhyme and have great lessons and illustrations. We especially love: The Lorax, Horton Hears a Who, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and The Sneetches. They could also go in the preschool category, but some are kind of long.
- Max Lucado Wemmick books, these have a Christian theme, but also can be used to teach all about love and friendship and being yourself. My favorites are: You Are Special, If Only I Had a Green Nose, and Your Special Gift.
- Anything by Patricia Polacco, my 4th graders knew her by name because we read so many of her books throughout the year. They are beautifully told and illustrated, about her childhood and family. I cannot wait to share these with my kiddos. My favorites: Thank You, Mr. Falker, Thunder Cake, The Keeping Quilt, and The Christmas Tapestry.
- Amelia Bedelia books, these are funny and can be a great way to have conversations about multiple meaning words and idioms.
- Frog and Toad books, these make me nostalgic for my childhood and are still just as good as I remember them.
- Berenstain Bears books, again, these are kind of classic, but have so many great lessons to learn in them and can be good conversation starters with your kids about important things like sharing and kindness.
- Nonfiction (think about the topics your child is really interested in):
- Gail Gibbons books, these are great, readable, and have lots of facts about anything you could want.
- Seymour Simon, beautiful photographs and lots of illustrations. His books about outer space are really interesting.
- Magic School Bus, lots of fun topics to read about, especially if your kiddos like cartoons and graphic books.
Elementary/Middle Grade Chapter Books
- I Survived series by Lauren Trashes. These are historical fiction, readable, and entertaining.
- Anything by Rick Riordan, personally, I love all of his books, especially any with Percy Jackson in them. They are fantasy, based on Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Norse mythology, and very entertaining.
- Harry Potter by JK Rowling, because, duh. Now they have these illustrated versions of them, coming out one by one, in case your kiddo is a visual learner!
- Found series by Margaret Peterson Haddix, a mix of sci-fi with historical fiction, time traveling kids go back in time to right some wrongs. These are fun to read and also you learn some history.
- Sky Jumpers series by Peggy Eddleman, futuristic, apocalyptic, hero kids saving the day.
- Mo and Dale mysteries by Shiela Turnage, starting with Three Times Lucky. I just love the characters and the settings in these books!
- Any books I recommended here.
Teacher tip: If you ever want to know the newest, best books for kids, check out each year’s Bluebonnet Award books and Newbery winner and honor books. These are usually beautifully written and have some kind of important life lesson or societal message. Lots of my favorite children’s books have come from these lists.
I hope this list helps you with your Christmas lists. I wanted to get it out earlier, but #reallifehappens. What other books would you add to this list?
Thanks for reading and until next time, peace and love from my household to yours.