In a recent post over at my blog ‘Luke, I am Your Father’, I related how I was a bit astonished but also a bit proud of the number of kid books my wife, Mrs. LIAYF, and I have accumulated in the three years we have been parents.
That number was at nearly 500.
I would venture to guess that we have read almost all of those 500 to our son at least once. Many we have read to him multiple times. Over and over again. Some of those I consider good books, and others I visibly cringe at when he pulls them off the shelf. (Sandra Boynton’s Belly Button book comes to mind). Seriously, there are some days I would rather take a gig wearing a matteress suit and waving wildly at passing cars rather than subject myself to reading some of those less desireable titles ‘one more time’.
It is during those times, that I try to convince my son he doesn’t really want the book in question. “That book? You don’t like that book. Not at all!” I will try this tactic with my best straight face. It usually doesn’t work. But, I am not a complete Ogre. If he continues to ask, I’ll suck it up (usually a deep breath) and just read him the book. Usually at an Evelyn Wood pace.
It is hard to say exactly what makes a good kid book. One that the kids like and the adults won’t find cringe worthy after the first couple of reads. And although I, surely like many of you, used to think writing a kids book would be a lucrative piece of cake, the fact is that the really good ones combine pleasing narrative with eye catching illustrations. This must be harder to pull off than we think because there are not that many great ones out there.
When it comes to pleasing the kiddos there are some gold standards which have certainly stood the test of time. You know the names: Curious George, Dr. Suess, and yes Sandra Boynton.
But what about those that will please Mom and Dad as well? In the end that obviously boils down to personal preference. However, there are a few that I can recommend, now that I consider myself a veteran of the kid book wars. One set by a famous author my come as a surprise to you given that I am father. The Beatrix Potter books. Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, Tom Kitten, plus there are several others and they are in heavy rotation around here. My son loves these books and, honestly, so do I. They combine smart prose with beautiful illustrations. They are a go to standby at our house, and don’t drive me up the walls either.
If you don’t have a set of these for your household, I would certainly recommend you pick one up. But what ever you choose, it’s not as important as the fact that you are reading to your kids.
Here are a few other great kid books I would also recommend:
The Day the Babies Crawled Away by Peggy Rathmann
The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant
Yonderfel’s Castle by Jean Gralley
On the Day you were Born by Debra Frasier
Little Boy by Alison Mcghee
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
What about you, readers? What are some great kid books that both your kids and you enjoyed? Leave me a comment with a recommendation.