Erica is a writer, editor, wife, and mom. She has always found employment with an English degree and she excels at nurturing children and animals but struggles to keep houseplants alive. Erica currently writes at

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Favorite Kids Books

Editorial Note:
March is the tail end of cabin fever and a great time to kick off a series about our favorite books for kids. Drop by once a week for a list of classics and new classics to add to your child’s reading list! Are we missing your favorite? Share the title in comments!

When I was pregnant, here’s what I wanted: Red-headed babies who would grow up to love reading.  Alas, my boys don’t have red hair, but so far (at ages 4 years & 20 months) they love to read.  I read a lot while pregnant and I still read frequently on my own (even if I’m interrupted ten times on ONE PAGE!).  We read books early in the morning, randomly through the day and at night.  Here are our faves.

What Mama’s Reading:

The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon has 8 giant books in this series.  Part romance, part escapism and lots of historical fiction ranging from 1740’s Scotland to 1970’s USA.  Addictive…if you like lots of details and an involved story like I do.

What My 20-month-old Is Reading:

My First Words: Let’s Get Talking has simple, clear pictures that name everyday objects and foods.  Just point and say the word.  Toddlers are word sponges, and you’ll love the day when he says what he wants rather than issuing a frustrated scream.

Llama Llama Misses Mama is the latest Llama book by Anna Dewdney.  We also love-love-love Llama Llama Red Pajama and Llama Llama Mad At Mama.  The rhyming cadence and topics are kid-addictive.

What My 4-year-old Is Reading:

Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni is a great introduction to mixing primary colors to create new colors, and it’s also a sweet yet abstract story about friendship.

Take art exposure up a notch with Philip Yenawine’s book series, MoMA Art Basics for Kids. Shapes,Colors, People, Lines, Places and Stories (you can buy them in a set or separately) introduce art components to children in simple ways and give plenty of room for imagination and dialogue between kids and parents.

Did you know that Dick and Jane are still alive?  There are lots of beginning readers out there, but my boy enjoys sounding out these simple sounds.  It doesn’t really matter what the story is, as long as there’s a sense of accomplishment.

The Red Balloon by Albert Lamorisse is old and French, and there’s an old French film of it, too.  Kind of a long read, but the photography makes the story seem like a factual tale to kids and that red balloon…every kid wants a red balloon.

What We Read With Both Kids:

Otis by Loren Long, The Toy Boat by  Randall de Sève and Loren Long and The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf are three of our favorites.  They’re also kind of similar, but endearing in their own ways.  Putt-puff-puttedy chuff.

One of these years I’m going to make a Halloween costume for Caps For Sale, by Esphyr Slobodkina.  That little mustashioed peddler is so cute with “his own checked cap, then the gray caps, then the blue caps, then the red caps on the very top.”  The kids love the monkey noises and motions, too.

We also have a special place for Harold and the Purple Crayon.  There’s beauty in simplicity, and this PJ-wearing bald boy had my heart as soon as he chose Purple to color his world.


Non-Princess Books I Like for Girls:

Princesses are ok for a little while, but for the love — can we please not treat girls like there’s nothing but pink and pining for princes?  If my boys grow up and bring home young ladies who read these books as kids, I think I’ll be happy.

Trixie Belden series by Julie Campbell.  I’m a third generation Trixie fan.  These books are simple, mysterious and include strong female characters and decades-old things like dungarees and a jalopy.

Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene.  Modern-day feminists make jabs at the female and male caricatures, but Nancy is a smart cookie.  Except she never wore the right shoes for running through the forest.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.  Seriously, I contemplate trying to conceive a girl just so I can pass on my Anne books.  My husband says that isn’t reason enough.  Men.






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Comments (7)

  1. Angie Hill 06/03/2012 at 2:02 pm

    The photo of the boy reading the book is mine and that is my son. I don’t know why someone would not only steal it but also edit it. Please take down the photo. Thank you.

  2. Katie 03/28/2011 at 10:38 am

    We LOVE Philip Yenawine’s series. The Colors one is our favorite.

  3. Pingback: Favorite Kids Books | designfeeder

  4. Leea 03/25/2011 at 1:57 am

    I work in the TITLE I department at school, so I read or are read to (by students) all these books! Great Choices…now that being said working at a school, we do Dr Seuss week, so his are always read and then my favorite from childhood is Where the Sidewalk Ends ….Shel Silverstein …Then add in book fairs and book orders and well my nieces get books by the copier box full and their parents are talking a room addition for them…(the oldest is almost 6 and youngest is 7 months so you see this is stopping anytime soon)

    Anne of Green Gables is a favorite of their mom (my sister) and I’s as snow days seem to mean it was on PBS….

    I will stop now..reading is a favorite topic 😉

  5. Raejean 03/24/2011 at 8:43 am

    My kids are older and they still laugh at Caps for Sale.

  6. Rachael 03/24/2011 at 8:39 am

    I love your book list – but more than that I love the red hair! 😀

  7. Carina Wytiaz 03/24/2011 at 8:12 am

    The Anne books are reason enough to have a daughter. That’s what I’m going with 🙂