Years before I had children of my own, I was given the following advice about buying books for parents: Make sure that the book will not make the parent lose their mind after reading it for the 1,000th time. At the time this sounded kind of funny, but having spent a few years with the full text of Good Night Moon and the entire Sandra Boynton oeuvre running through my head like an ear worm, I now know what that advice was all about.
Now that I consider myself something of an expert on these things, I thought I’d share a few books that can be read to kids as many times as requested, without making you feel like you’re being slowly tortured
Timothy and the Strong Pajamas: This book was recommended to me by one of our very own children’s librarians when I was searching for a superhero book appropriate for a 4-year old. This one delighted both me and my kids: Timothy, who tries very hard to be strong, suddenly gets super strength after his mother mends his favorite pajamas (to make them strong). He and his pal, a stuffed monkey, decide to use his strength for good and he spends his day finding good deeds to do. The comic book-style illustrations and lettering are wonderful, and the comments from monkey are funny enough to keep this book from being too saccharine.
Extra Yarn: A girl in a drab and snowy town discovers a box full of colorful yarn, from which she knits sweater after sweater and never runs out of yarn, until an envious archduke who covets her yarn steals the box. This story has lovely illustrations and is whimsical in a way that appeals to both children and the reader. This is mostly just a fun, fanciful story, with the subtle message that we control our own happiness.
Anything by Eric Carle: I gained afresh appreciation for the work of Eric Carle after a recent visit to the Children’s Museum. In June they will be having an Eric Carle exhibit, and one day in their art area they had an Eric Carle-inspired activity, in which we painted textures onto paper, cut it up, and used those bits to make collages. Actually playing around with the paper and textures and thinking about ways to put them back together gave a whole new dimension to his wonderful illustrations. He’s a perennial favorite for a reason.
Can You Find It? and Can You Find It, Too?: If you’re tired of looking for Waldo, these books are a great substitute. Featuring paintings, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you and your little ones will look for anything from cats to books to eyes (think Ancient Egyptian art). It’s a nice way to share a love of art with young children, while sneakily teaching them how to look at paintings.
Trucks: Byron Barton is another one of those ubiquitous children’s authors. Yes, his books may drive parents a little crazy after reading nothing else for a month at a time, but your kids will love the simple text and basic illustrations. Trucks was a favorite in our household (I love the finality of the last line: “Trucks on the road. They work hard.”), but I also really like the book Airport for preparing a child for their first time on a plane.
The Story of the Little Mole Who Went in Search of Whodunit: A mole gets poop on his head and sets out to find out which animal pooped on his head, examining each animal’s droppings as he goes. Kids find this hilarious, and it’s a funny change from your typical children’s book.
What are some books (children’s or otherwise!) that you don’t mind reading over and over?