Thursday, February 14, 2008

Picture Books Worth Reading

Since I'm stuck in a book rut at the moment (I'm determined to finish a book I started, but it's taking forever), I'll highlight some of our favorite pictures books at our house. Ones that get read over and over again and whose virtues are many.

"Ivan the Terrier" by Peter Catalanotto is actually one that we checked out from the library. Ivan--the terrier, of course--keeps interrupting the story with his antics and crazed barking. The girls thought it was hilarious and loved seeing him chase the three bears out of their house and eat the gingerbread boy. It'll be sad to see this one go back to the library, but perhaps it'll show up on the amazon wish list I have for them.

"Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus" by Mo Willems is one of our most favorite books. We have read it over and over again. There's all the Pigeon spin-off books, but they don't have the magic of the first one. Mo Willems is a genius and all of his books are wonderful. If you seriously are hearing of this book for the first time here, what is wrong with you? Are you un-American or something?

"Eric Carle's Treasure of Classic Stories for Children" which is Aesop fables, Hans Christian Andersen and Brothers Grimm tales that have been retooled by Eric Carle. We love anything Carle and once contemplated making a road trip to his museum in Massachusetts with my friend, Christina and her kids. He's that awesome. But this book is even more than illustrations. It is more like art and my kids love it. Plus, Aesop's fables are kind of bizarre and fun to read.

Speaking of beautiful artwork and fairy tales, we also love Paul O. Zelinsky's books. We have "Hansel and Gretel" and it's beautiful. It has an almost Renaissance feel to the illustrations. He's a Caldecott Medal winner and that's no surprise once you see his books. He's illustrated a bunch of books, so you should check out his website to see what there is to enjoy.

Usbourne publishes amazing books, but I'm still cursing them under my breath since they only way you can get them locally is to go through a distributor, like buying Pampered Chef or Avon. You can order their books online or through Scholastic book clubs, though, so I forgive them in part. One of my favorites are the "That's Not My Teddy" board books. They are touchy-feely books, which my babies always respond the most to and these ones are super cute. My baby is getting, "That's Not My Dinosaur" and "That's Not My Teddy" for her first birthday. There are several versions and you can find them in Spanish too.

For those of you with boys who are getting bored reading this blog, some of our favorite books are about dinosaurs, trucks and trains. Not bad for a family of girls, I gotta say. We love "How Do Dinosaur's Say Goodnight?" by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague. Also, "Big Truck and Little Truck" by Jan Carr and illustrated by Ivan Bates. The girls also love anything with Thomas the Tank Engine, but I get sick of reading them.

Wow, there are so many more books I can write about, but I'll have to save that for later. I haven't even started on chapter books, or easy readers. I could write blogs full about children's music too, but maybe I'll save that for somewhere else. If I went through my bookshelves, I could probably write entries for days on my favorite picture books. I have somewhat of an addiction to children's books for which my husband might end up sending me to rehab. "Hello, my name is Jenny and I'm addicted to buying children's books. I haven't purchased anything from my daughter's Scholastic book club in three months and I haven't joined Children's Book of the Month Club in two years. I had a relapse last spring at a sidewalk sale at a local bookstore. My Amazon wish list is reaching enormous proportions and I might need a sponsor to help me winnow it down." I've promised my husband that I'm going to focus my attentions on chapter books now that my picture book shelves are bowed from the weight. We live in an area with a good library district now so I can't justify buying so many books anymore, but darn it if it isn't so much fun!


  1. Have you read "How Does a Dinosaur Get Well Soon?" or "How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food?" Those are perennial favorites at our house. Good for boys who freak out about doctors and vegetables.

  2. We do have "Get Well Soon" but not "Eat Their Food." Such fun.

  3. I've read about half the books on your list and I love them all! I don't let myself buy books anymore. I make myself check them out from the library. It helps the budget a lot and I don't have to find room for them all. We go to the library every week and check out at least 20 kids' books!

  4. Yes, that's why I'm working on not buying them. I only paid at the most $5 a book (cause I'm a deal-hunter) but that adds up quickly. Our previous library was stinky, but now we can find pretty much anything we want. I love libraries.

  5. I got Ivan the Terrier for school this week. We are doing a Three Bears unit, it will be perfect. Thanks for the tip - Pam

  6. Thanks for the recommendations. There are about a million picture books at the library, and it's hard to pick anything without knowing where to start! Usually we end up with books that have great illustrations and a super lame story because I don't have a lot of time to read through them before we check them out. So today we will go get all of the ones you mentioned.