image by Jessica V Photography
I have long intended to share some of our favorite children books; to keep tabs on them for myself and to give fresh ideas to fellow book loving families so I have decided to start a short series sharing our favorites.
The boys love a good story book and Paul and I both enjoy indulging and encouraging them in this love. We have no formal set up, but we spend over an hour a day reading out loud to them and then they often spend another hour or two listening to audio books.
Mr. Men books by Roger Hargreaves are favorites with our boys (He also has a Little Miss series.) The boys can proficiently describe their emotions and will often ask each other “Are you Mr. Grumpy right now?” or “Are you Mr. Angry right now?” and is often followed with “Well I am going to be Mr. Tickle and make it all better!” The books are fun, easy reads and Paul does the most fantastic voices for each character so we all end up laughing through each book.
Bill Peet books are favorites of mine, and by default favorites of the boys. Some books are rhyming books, some are not. All of them are fun and imaginative stories that make for great read aloud books. He does all of his own illustrating (at least for all of the stories we own) and they images are whimsical, just like the stories.
Rain Makes Applesauce by Julian Scheer is simply a fun, nonsensical book that just begs to be read aloud and induces giggles from all around. The illustrations are beautiful. It is a 1965 Caldecott Honor book. It aligns itself perfectly with Wesley wacky sense of humor and he has thoroughly enjoyed this story. This was a library find but it is on my “to-own” list.
Fly High, Fly Low by Don Freeman is another beautifully illustrated book about two birds living in San Fransisco. It’s a sweet story that follows Sid the pigeon who comes back to his nest one day to discover it, his dove Midge and their two eggs missing. Not only that, but the entire letter ‘B’ that his nest was built in is missing and he sets off across the city to find it. I like the painless introduction it gives to the popular U.S. city.
Toklat: The Story of an Alaskan Grizzly Bear and The Story of a Hippopotamus, both by Elma and Alfred Milotte, are fascinating true accounts on the lives of each named animal.
The Story of a Hippopotamus was my favorite of the two, but both proved to be informative, well written and engaging. While they are not written for young children I am very much a believer in reading above a child’s level of understanding. These stories required a lot of stopping, explaining and occasionally acting out the scenes we had just read about to help them grasp the concepts but the boys happily listened and the books were very enjoyable reads. The boys especially took to the story of the hippopotamus and randomly throw out hippo facts to people, months after we read the book. Who am I kidding? *I* randomly throw hippo facts into conversations with people – for instance, did you know that a mama hippo is capable of breaking a crocodiles neck with her jaw? My life has been enriched with that piece of trivia and I have told no less than a dozen people about it.
The authors have several other books available on different animal subjects and I have the platypus one ready to read soon. The Milotte’s did an extensive amount of traveling and studying of animals and worked for Walt Disney on several Oscar winning films on the lives of animals. You can read more about this interesting couple here.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery and translated by Katharine Woods is a delightful classic full of imagination and wit. With charming illustrations throughout the book it held the boys attention and inspired their imaginative play and the wit entertained us. We have read this to them twice already and will be reading it to them many more times.