our favorite children’s books

My favorite time of the day is bedtime. The day can be so hectic, and it’s nice to curl up as a family and read a few books together. Because this is something we have done every night since Bobby was a few months old, we’ve accumulated a lot of books, but there are some that we always come back to. Here are some of our favorites:

Just One Goal!
Robert Munsch (Author), Michael Martchenko (Illustrator)
Ciara is tired of hauling her hockey gear across town to play on the rink. It makes no sense—there is a perfectly good frozen river in her own backyard! But her dad says it’s too jagged, and her mom says it’s too bumpy, and her older sisters don’t see why she can’t keep going all the way across town, just like they did. But Ciara won’t let anybody stop her. And with a little help from the neighbourhood, she knows that her team, the River Rink Rats, will finally win a game on their own brand new rink.

We Share Everything!
Robert Munsch (Author), Michael Martchenko (Illustrator)
It’s the first day of kindergarten and Amanda and Jeremiah have a problem. They both want to read the same books. They want to paint with the same paints. And they refuse to share. The teacher tells them, “Look. This is kindergarten. In kindergarten we share. We share everything.” Everything? Amanda and Jeremiah decide to take their teacher at her word. But what can they share? They begin by switching their shoes, and end up wearing each other’s outfits! Now Jeremiah is wearing Amanda’s pink shoes, pants and shirt and Amanda is wearing Jeremiah’s clothes. Together they show their teacher that sharing really can be fun!

Thomas’ Snowsuit
Robert Munsch (Author), Michael Martchenko (Illustrator)
Thomas refuses to wear his new snowsuit despite the pleas of his mother, his teacher and even his principal. When everyone’s best efforts lead only to comedic chaos, they all agree it’s best to let Thomas suit himself.

I could easily add almost every Robert Munsch book to this list, they’re just fun to read – except Love You Forever. We bought a copy and I tried to read it to Bobby one day, made it to the part where his mother is getting old and started crying. My husband laughed and said ‘it’s just a book!’, guess how far he made it when he tried to read it? It’s now safely in a box, in the basement.

Just Me and my Dad
Mercer Mayer (Author, Illustrator)
This well-loved Little Critter picture book has become a modern classic. It’s the tale of a father-and-son camping trip filled with Little Critter’s mistakes and good intentions. In spite of difficulties, however, the happy father and son manage to put up their tent, catch fish for dinner, and sleep beneath the stars. In spite of minimal text, the story is full and rich, with endearing illustrations from start to finish.

Just Me and my Little Sister
Mercer Mayer (Author, Illustrator)
A good big brother takes his energetic little sister to the park for an exhausting day.

I remember reading little critter books to my younger brother, so it’s really nice to be able to continue that with our children.

The Gruffalo
Julia Donaldson (Author)
The eponymous character introduced by this British team owes a large debt to Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. When Mouse meets Fox in the “deep dark wood,” he invents a story about the gruffalo, described very much like Sendak’s fearsome quartet of wild things “He has terrible tusks, and terrible claws, and terrible teeth in his terrible jaws.” The gullible fox runs away when Mouse tells him that the gruffalo’s favorite food is roasted fox. “Silly old Fox!” says Mouse, “Doesn’t he know?/ There’s no such thing as a gruffalo!” Owl and Snake follow suit until, with a turn of the page, Mouse runs into the creature he has imagined. Quick-thinking Mouse then tells the monster, “I’m the scariest creature in this deep dark wood./ Just walk behind me and soon you’ll see,/ Everyone for miles is afraid of me.” Fox, Owl and Snake appear to be terrified of the tiny mouse, but readers can plainly see the real object of their fears. By story’s end, the gruffalo flees, and Mouse enjoys his nut lunch in peace.

My boss suggested this book – and I’m really glad she did. The Gruffalo is a little scary at first, but the clever little mouse scares him off in the end. It’s very well written, and the illustrations are fantastic.

The Pet Dragon: A Story about Adventure, Friendship, and Chinese Characters
Christoph Niemann (Author)
Meet Lin and her pet dragon!
When the dragon mysteriously disappears, Lin sets off on a journey to find her best friend . . . and readers set off on a journey of learning and discovery.
By ingeniously integrating written Chinese characters into the illustrations as the story progresses, Christoph Niemann has created a book that is engrossing, unique, and memorable. The Pet Dragon is a playful introduction to the fascinating world of Chinese language and culture . . . and a terrific story to share with children everywhere.
You are invited to join Lin for an adventure you will not soon forget!

A friend of mine gave this book to us when Bobby was born – and it’s so unique. The story is great, and like the description says, the illustrations include Chinese characters. It’s always neat when hubby and I learn something new when reading to our kids.

Moria Butterfield (Author), Simon Mendez (Illustrator)
When Ben gets a new puppy he wants to give him a name that’s just perfect. Find out how this cute, bouncy dog gets to be called Muddypaws. This beautifully illustrated and heartwarming tale of a boy and his sidekick is fun for children of all ages.

This book will always have a special place in our heart. It’s one of the first books Bobby ‘participated’ in. One of the lines repeated throughout the book is ‘he made muddy pawprints… ‘ and Bobby always chimed in with ‘everywhere!’ When I asked my husband what his favorite book to read to them was, this was first on his list.

The Lorax
Dr. Seuss (Author)
Long before “going green” was mainstream, Dr. Seuss’s Lorax spoke for the trees and warned of the dangers of disrespecting the environment. In this cautionary rhyming tale, we learn of the Once-ler, who came across a valley of Truffula Trees and Brown Bar-ba-loots (“frisking about in their Bar-ba-loot suits as they played in the shade and ate Truffula Fruits”), and how his harvesting of the tufted trees changed the landscape forever.

No list could be complete without at least one Dr. Seuss book, and like Robert Munsch, I could have included every one. They are fun to read (my husband reading Fox in Socks is always amusing), and sometimes they contain a great message – like the Lorax, or I Wish That I Had Duck Feet.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids
Carol McCloud (Author), David Messing (Illustrator)
Kindness is the gift that you and the child you read this to will receive.
Through sweet, simple prose and vivid illustrations, this heartwarming book encourages positive behaviour as children see how very easy and rewarding it is to express kindness, appreciation and love on a daily basis. This wonderful book is a winner of seven awards .

I love this book because it visualizes positive as well as negative behaviors and actions. In a nutshell: everyone has an invisible bucket, do something nice for someone and it fills their bucket – do something mean, and it empties their bucket. It’s an easy concept for little ones, and my son regularly asks “did that fill your bucket?”

Before I go to Sleep
Ronne Randall (Author), Tony Kerins (Illustrator)

This is another book that will always have a special place in our hearts. This was one of the first books we started reading to Bobby, and my husband and I would take turns reading each page. It’s the perfect ‘last book before bed’.

I hope you enjoyed our list. What are your family’s favorite books?

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