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Favorite Kids Books

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 they love to read. Here are our current favorite 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-loveLlama Llama Red Pajama and Llama Llama Mad At Mama. The rhyming cadence and topics are kid-addictive.

llama llama misses mama

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.

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Did you know that Dick and Janeare 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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