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Small Books

OMG books.

Put it this way, the librarians in town know us as “those book people”.  We read a lot. Hen reads a lot (at 4:30am, the boy reads a lot.  Yawn.)

But I’ve had a few requests now for a listing of books we’re loving right now.

So here goes:

Zen Tiesby Jon Muth
I Will Hold You ’til You Sleepby Linda Zuckerman
Good Night, Gorillaby Peggy Rathmann
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmoreby William Joyce
Black Dogby Levi Pinfold
The Day Louis Got Eatenby John Fardell
Voyage to the Bunny Planetby Rosemary Wells
B Is for Brooklynby Selina Alko
Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoesby Eric Litman
Hondo and Fabianby Peter McCarty
Big Red Barn Big Bookby Margaret Wise Brown
Mouse Cookies & More: A Treasury (If You Give…)by Laura Numeroff
Jamberryby Bruce Degen
Blueberries for Salby Robert McCloskey
Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find Youby Nancy Tillman

Here’s fifteen to get the list started, and I’ll try to run these posts every so often. There are so many excellent kids books out there, and it’s practically impossible to keep up with how many come out all the time, save for personal recommendations.

And please–reciprocate! Any books your kids (or you!) adore, I’d love to see a comment with the title & author, and I’ll bet other readers would, too. Keeping baby-brains well fueled is practically a full-time job!

31 comments to Small Books

  • MabelB

    Thanks so much for posting this list, I am always struggling to find great new books for my small people and we read so much I worry they will be bored by the same old ones. I’ll be straight on amazon checking this list out during nap time!

    We have a few old favourites but the all time best small children’s book in my opionion is The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson. The gruffallo always gets mentioned as her famous book but I much prefer the snail, such a lovely moral but not too soppy. I totally recommend!

    Susan Reply:

    Off to Amazon to order Donaldson’s book! Thank you!

  • benedicte

    Thanks! we are going to the library tonight…Right now E LOVES Olivia’s books (by Ian Falconer)…

  • We are big fans of Anna Dewdney – the Llama Llama books are hysterical, and Roly Poly Pangolin was just as cute. My daughter loves Skippyjon Jones, but I can only do so much bad Spanish accent before I can’t tolerate him any more. She also loves the Pout Pout Fish books (Deborah Diesen) and just about anything Dr. Seuss. My mom gets library books for her every week, I should ask her to bring up the history of what she’s checked out and try to remember which ones were favorites!

    Susan Reply:

    Right there with you! Hen still loves the Llama Llama books, and I can’t STAND Skippyjon! Shall have to try the Diesen book–you know it’s weird, Hen really doesn’t like most of the classic Dr. Seusses. The ABC is great, but he gets too worked up about the Cat in the Hat–too stressful for him to enjoy it, I think. Plus, you know, messes! I’m still holding out hope that someday he figures out how wackily fun they are (and how everything works out ok in the end!)

  • Erin

    Great idea–great list!
    Loving Pete the Cat…check out the video on youtube of the author reading it (and singing the parts of it he does–really cute).
    My 23 month old (sniff, where does the time go?!) loves Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site. We read it ad nauseum.

    Susan Reply:

    Oh yeah! GGCS is a fave!

  • Brookes4boys

    We love “Is your Mama a Llama” but our all time favorites are “dinosailors” and “How does a dinosaur say goodnight”. Actually, the entire series for both dino books are good, but those two are the favorites (big dinosaur lovers in our house). We also enjoy Eric Carle, particularly The Very Busy Spider and A house for Hermit Crab

    Susan Reply:

    Dinosailers, eh? Shall have a look. We’ve actually got all the Yolen dino books out from our library right now–Hen’s a bit confused as to why the kids/dinosaurs are different on every page (kid likes his lit straightforward and linear!) but he loves the illustrations. Dinosaurs in bedrooms are apparently the funniest things ever!

    Man, kids are cute!

    Brookes4boys Reply:

    Dinosailers (by Deb Lund, BTW) has one part that is so funny that I STILL cannot read it outloud without laughing, even after reading it to the boys for the last 10 or so years, ha ha. A bit gross (just how my boys like it, ugh) but absolutely hilarious!

  • Ditto on Anna Dewdney. My little ones LOVE this series of books though, since we started with “Llama Llama Red Pajama”, it remains their favorite.

    1. Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
    2. The Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen
    3. Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.

    Those are the three that are most often brought to me to be read to them. Thanks for sharing the list! We’re always looking for something to add to the arsenal.

    Susan Reply:

    Second PoutPout recommendation. I guess I know what I’m looking for at the library this week…

  • Carrie

    I know I’ve mentioned to you before in one of your recent book posts that anything by Virginia Lee Burton is awesome, but we do have a few other tried and true favorites:
    1). Ferdinand – by Munro Leaf (love this story about a gentle bull who can’t identify with his rough-and-tumble peers – especially since I have two boys who aren’t particularly rough)
    2). The House the Pecks Built by Helen and Alf Evers (written in 1940 – my younger son fell in love with this book when he was 5, and just loves the illustrations and the engineer/builder in him enjoys watching the construction of the house getting bigger and bigger, and the mention of trains in this book never hurt either)
    3). Caps for Sale – by Esphyr Slobodkina – story about a peddler and a mischevious monkey
    4). Tikki Tikki Tembo – by Arlene Mosel. All 3 of my children (as well as I, when a little girl,) loved this book, especially since it was about a culture that was interesting to learn about.
    5). Lyle Lyle, Crocodile – by Bernard Waber. We had all of the Lyle books and my kiddos loved reading about him and all of the adventures he was afforded despite being a dangerous creature :)

    That’s all – hate to inundate you, but there’s SO much, and it’s hard to keep kids who love to read in books, as you know!

    Susan Reply:

    And I meant to reply–it was your post, in part, that made me decide this would be a good feature. We LOVE VLB. The LIttle House is one of Hen’s favorites (though I do think he’d be quite happy living in our city house full time, so he doesn’t really understand her objections to living in so much hubbub!) I’ve read Ferdinand & Tikki Tikki Tembo, but these others are new to me–OFF TO THE LIBRARY (or Amazon if the library fails me!) So many books, so much fun. THANK YOU!

  • Pie

    This is great! We are in a bit of a book rut, at least it feels that way to me. Toddlers love reading the same thing over and over, don’t they? I can recite Big Red Barn by heart. In my sleep. It haunts my dreams.

    My daughter is really into counting books at the moment, anything with numbers really. Letters too. So the “Chica Chica” books – 1,2,3 and Boom, Boom are very big right now. And for some reason she has recently latched onto “Count Dagmar” by J. otto Siebold even though Halloween was over months ago. And we always love the Sandra Boynton books – Belly Button, SnugglePuppy, Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs, any of the Little Pookie books. All good stuff.

    Susan Reply:

    We’re definitely Boynton fans here–I really do need to find the Little Pookie one!–but we’ve never read one we didn’t like.

    It’s funny–I’ve always hoped that Hen would be a reader, but I never expected him to be so voracious. He wakes up early now to read to his ‘critters’ and reading is his preferred activity (well, as long as he’s not watching Thomas or hurling himself into a snowbank.) And he loves certain books for a couple of weeks at a time, but he’s ALWAYS interested in new ones. Which is fun for me. Because yeah, after Big Red Barn has been in rotation for a few days, I’m speaking in verse when I tell the boys to come in to dinner, and it aint pretty!

  • Jane

    Thank you!! Great suggestions. We know and love about half of them, and a couple others are in our list to order already. Ditto the previous response about The Snail and the Whale – love it (and we read the Gruffalo and Gruffalo’s Child over and over too). Here are some of our favorites (my son will be 3 in March) that I think you and Henry would love as well. Sorry don’t have time to put links in!

    A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip and Erin Stead (simply gorgeous! Waiting for Bear Tells a Story, which also looks gorgeous)
    And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin Stead (also gorgeous, and great for NH winters)
    How to Catch a Star; The Way Back Home; Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers (sweet, smart, fun)
    Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willams (fun, clever)
    Press Here by Herve Tullet (interactive antidote for our digital world – requested again and again)
    Tumble Bumble by Felicia Bond (simple, perfect cadence)
    One Hungry Monster by Susan Heyboer O’Keefe (fun, great for counting)
    How Rocket Learned to Read and Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills (thought they would be too advanced, but he loves them)
    Swirl by Swirl by Joyce Sidman, ill. by Beth Krommes (gorgeous, and he loves finding spirals everywhere now)
    I Took the Moon for a Walk by Carolyn Curtis, ill. by Alison Jay (he’s now pushing around a toy mooon in his doll stroller all the time)
    Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley (cute and clever)
    The House on East 88th Street by Bernard Waber (from my childhood – still fabulous)
    Moon Rabbit and Brown Rabbit in the City by Natalie Russell (sweet, lovely illustrations)
    I Am A Bunny by Ole Risom (sweet, great for passing of the seasons)
    Mr. Archimedes’ Bath by Pamela Allen (for the budding science geeks)

    Notice I included a lot of bunny books for Henry’s sake!!

    Susan Reply:

    Oh WOW–almost all of these are new to me. I CAN”T WAIT! THANK YOU!

    Jane Reply:

    Checking back and just remembered another favorite of mine that our son requests a lot — Frederick by Leo Lionni. One of the best ways to introduce the concept that arts and poetry are so important in life.

    And in response to the Mem Fox suggestion below, we love everything by Mem Fox. Koala Lou is so sweet, and Possum Magic is hilarious, especially if you have any Australia connection.

    Pamela Allen, who wrote Mr. Archimedes’ Bath, is also fabulous. Demonstrates the wealth of great authors from Down Under!

  • We received “All Afloat on Noah’s Boat” as a gift (truthfully, I would have never bought it of my own accord) by Tony Mitton. My son LOVED it. We read that book until many of the pages tore, seriously, and are lovingly taped together. I ended up buying a series of Tony’s books:
    “Down by the Cool of the Pool”

    My son also liked, “Giant Jam Sandwich” by Janet Burroway.

    “Snuggle Up Sleepy Ones” by Claire Freedman

    “Schnitzel von Krumm’s Basketwork by Lynley Dodd

    And, one of my all time favorites, “Time for Bed” by Mem Fox.

    Susan Reply:

    Oooh, I’ll definitely have to look for these–all except for Time for Bed. We already love that one & add verses every time we think of new rhymes for animals like ‘hyena’ and ‘monkey’ and ‘alligator’.

  • I love lists like this. Thank you. In heavy circulation right now are
    – Giraffes cant Dance
    – Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel
    – Courduroy
    – The Cat in the Hat
    – Good Dog, Carl
    – Good Night Gorilla
    – Old Bear
    – Otis
    – Jamberry

  • Susan

    Oooh, I’ll have to look for the Giraffes one. Hen’s getting a bit interested in things that anyone can’t do for whatever reason. Might be very timely! Thank you!

  • Heather

    What a great blog post and all those suggestions – great comments by your readers too. My son is 2 1/2, and he loves the Berenstain Bears, Little Critter stories by Mercer Meyer and the old favorites, Curious George stories. We read these over and over and over! I thought the stories might be a little long for him, but he loves the longer stories and more involved plots. H will be there soon. A few other kids’ books I love are “Go, Dog, Go” by PD Eastman and Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion. Those are pretty mainstream so you may already be familiar with those. Quick question, you are obviously a big reader and get books from the library. Do you wind up buying H’s favorites for your own personal library or how do you decide which ones to buy??? I want to buy them all!! As always, thanks for sharing.

    Susan Reply:

    Yeah, Hen’s got a stash of Berenstain bears from his sisters’ childhoods, and my old Curious George. He likes the bears, but oddly, while the length isn’t a problem, the CG storylines are. Hen really is showing a definite aversion to people (monkeys, trains, etc.) who get messy or make messes. Since that’s pretty much what Curious George is about (and OH HOW I LOVED THEM as a kid!) he’s not enjoying them at all. :(

    Gus and the Firefly, though? Oh yeah. PD Eastman is good.

    We buy Hen a lot of books. A lot. And books were the one thing I bought before Hen was even conceived. Many of Hen’s first wave of books were ones I bought when I was a librarian, books that were so beautiful that I needed a copy, lest they go out of print before my child was born. Some of those are still his favorites.

    I buy a lot from Powells & other used sources, because it would be prohibitively expensive to buy him all the things I think he should have, otherwise, and because I don’t believe in having books that are ‘too good to read’ so used copies are just fine. He gets free access to his books, and while that means that sometimes I end up having to buy a book from the library that got loved a little too hard, it also means that he’s actually quite good at reading to himself, because he’s had lots of on-his-own practice. Worth it.

    I just found a stash of Leonard Shortall EZ readers on Ebay that Hen loves. Our library only had 2 (they’re from the 60s, horribly dated, but fabulous for little boys!) I’ll buy LS books wherever I see them until Hen stops liking them. I tend to use the library books as a way to browse–I let him choose books that catch his eye, and I’ll get books I think he (or I!) might like. If he wants to check the book out again after we return it to the library, he’ll usually end up with a copy of his own–especially if he says or does something that makes me realize how much he loved it. All pandas are now “Stillwater” from Jon Muth’s Zen books. Pete the Cat we ended up buying because it was really hard when OTHER PEOPLE KEPT CHECKING IT OUT WHEN HEN WANTED TO READ IT! But others that he’s happy to read while we have it checked out but never asks about after we return it? Not so much. We check out maybe 30 books a week, some repeats, but most new. I probably buy him 3 or 4 books a month on average? So you can see that it’s weighing heavily toward library books! Of course, xmas & birthdays, he probably got 20-30 books for each holiday, so that ups the average a bit I guess.

    I was a hard-core library kid when I was younger, which was great, because, books are awesome, but it does mean that I don’t have/remember a lot of my favorites from way back then (though it is an amazing thing to read a book with Hen and suddenly, flash-of-lightning REMEMBER it and how compelling it was when I first read it…) But since the few books I have that survived my childhood are seriously treasured, I’d really like Hen to have that for his own adulthood & potential kids.

    And I can’t think of much else I’d rather spend money on for a kid, so I don’t mind it. Plus, I buy lots of books for myself, too. Not much of a shopper in any other way, as the state of my wardrobe/bare walls will attest, but oh my, books are different! Books are NECESSARY!

    I do make heavy use of Amazon’s wish list feature to keep track of books to remind myself of books he’d like, if they’re still beloved when my bank account is feeling plush. Also, he’s fortunate in that he has a reading family on both sides, so his grandparents, sisters, aunts & cousins all help feed his addiction!

    But yeah. Everyone should grow up surrounded by books, whether borrowed or owned. Lots and lots and lots of books.

  • Heather

    Thank you so much for the great reply. That is so cute that H has an aversion to people who make messes. That is adorable. Wow. 30 books a week from the library? That is awesome. That makes sense to check out a lot, and then if he shows a special affinity for certain books to get a copy of his own. Good idea. Thanks again for all the ideas.

  • Mara

    This is a wonderful way to learn about books! Thank you so much for your great post that has started it all.
    Here are a few of our favorites at the moment:
    He Came With the Couch by David Slonim
    Chopsticks by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
    (also the books Little Hoot, Little Oink, and Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal)
    The Little Train by Lois Lenski
    Splat the Cat by Rob Scotton
    Russell the Sheep by Rob Scotton
    Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
    Also, a friend asked if I was keeping a list of all the books I was getting for my twins. I hadn’t been, so I created an account at strictly for the babies’ books and I keep a list of all the books there. Goodreads has an app that allows you to scan the barcode on the book to quickly add it to your list. Having the list on my phone has been helpful when we go to the library or bookstore and also my Mum has access to the list and can see what books they have or still need.

  • Cat

    One that I don’t see mentioned here is Can I Just Take a Nap? by Ron Rauss. We first got it from a Cheerios box and then bought a hardcover copy for us as well as several for gifts. It’s a cute story about a little boy who is trying to find a quiet spot for a nap. It’s written in rhyme that is not annoying at all for grownups.

    My kids also enjoy Shel Silverstein. We have Where the Sidewalk Ends and I just open it randomly and read. They also like Click Clack Moo by Doreen Cronin, but I’m sure they have NO idea what a typewriter is.

    Also lots of the books that have already been mentioned: Eric Carle, Sandra Boynton (especially But Not the Hippopotamus), Berenstain Bears, and Dr. Suess.

  • Single Mommy of Two

    I read and enjoy your blog thanks to a good friend who sucked me into the world of blogs (yes, you, Gwinne!), but have never commented. It’s the middle of the night, I have insomnia, and I adore kids books, so here I am commenting for the first time.

    My kids (6 and 3) are also big readers and I have been collecting children’s books since I was in college, so it’s very difficult for me to make a list of favorites for you. They’re all my favorites for different reasons and at different times. The same seems to be true for my kids. Much to my sadness at times, their favorites are not always the same as my favorites at any given time, but that’s the beauty of life, right? Here are a few of the current favorites on my three-year-old’s list:

    • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst (this was also a favorite of my duaghter’s and we still often joke about moving to Australia when we’ve had a bad a day or something minor goes wrong)
    • Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson (and all the related Bear books)
    • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (and lots of others by the same)
    • The Monster at the End of This Book – especially if I read it in my Grover voice, which leaves me with a sore throat, but is a HUGE hit!
    • I Love You Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt and Cyd Moore, I Love You Because You’re You by Liza Baker, and of course, Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney, – we have dozens of these kinds of books outlining how much/why/how a parent loves his/her child, but these three remain the most loved and read of all these types of stories in our house
    • The Mommy Book by Todd Parr (and also The Family Book and The Grandma Book) – my kids like to compare me to the types of mommies presented in the book
    • A Good Day by Kevin Henkes – short, simple, and beautiful message about seeing another side to life’s disappointments and frustrations.
    • Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus
    My kids love this story about a little tiger who can’t do all the things his friends do but eventually blooms in his own good time. It might be a good one to check out given what you’ve said about Hen’s perfectionism, which is an issue for my oldest as well. I will say, however, that the overly analytical part of me is a little worried about sentences such as “Leo couldn’t do anything right,” and the anxiety of the father in this story undermining the message of “all in your own time,” but my kids love the story nonetheless so I just suppress the literary critic in me.

    I know you said Hen’s not a Dr. Seuss fan, but at his age, Are You My Mother (oh how they loved the Snort!) and Green Eggs and Ham were the only ones my kids really enjoyed, although they now love Horton Hatches an Egg and Horton Hears a Who and The Sneetches a lot too.

    I also second (and third) some great ones mentioned by other posters, including
    • Ferdinand
    • One Hungry Monster
    • Tumble Bumble (me and my kids know it by heart it has been read so much)
    • The Pout Pout Fish
    • All the Llama Llama books (Llama Llama Misses Mama is the current fav)
    • Knuffle Bunny
    • Almost anything Leo Lionni, but Frederick , Swimmy, and A Color of His Own are among the favs

    Finally, I thought I would share something that worked in our house where both books and potty learning are concerned that might help Henry want to use the potty without pressure or stress. I have always had a basket in each of the bathrooms where I keep a pile of books, rotating them out occasionally with newer ones. These are the potty books – not books about pottying, just books that live in the bathroom and are for reading while sitting on the potty. The kids were never forbidden from removing them and reading them elsewhere, but they never did. They just came to understand that these were the special books that got read while sitting on the potty. Some of their very favorite books are the ones that were “potty books” – including many of those listed above. For practical reasons, I often put smaller more durable board books in the potty book basket, but not always. Just a thought!

    Single Mommy of Two Reply:

    Sorry to be replying to myself but I can’t believe I forgot Harry the Dirty Dog and No Roses For Harry, by Gene Zion and don’t know how to edit my post to add them! Great classic stories.

  • Heidi

    I love this post and the comments, though I stopped reading until I have time to sit down later on to compile a list of new ones for us to check out. My younger son and Hen have many favorites in common, based on your original list and a few others you’ve mentioned in response to comments. Mo Willems’s Elephant and Piggie books are big with my son right now, as well as The Little House and Katy and the Big Snow, the Olivia books, the Jane Yolen dinosaur books, and Alexandra Day’s Carl books (these are such fun, and we love making up our own narration to accompany the pictures) . I’ll have to think of some others that haven’t already been mentioned–but I will put in a plug for the Scholastic video series. We don’t watch a lot of TV or videos, but these have been great for occasional viewing when I’m making dinner or need a few quiet moments. I’m mostly mentioning them, though, because merely scrolling through the lists of stories in the videos will give you ideas for reading, as the books they’ve chosen are high interest and visually appealing.