Instilling a love of reading in our children has always been important to my husband and I. We read to our kids every day; and have been, since they were both teeny tiny. At one point, our oldest refused to go to bed unless she had a crib full of books.
She literally went to bed snuggling a pile of books. It made our hearts so happy.
Our book collection includes ones we’ve purchased, many that were gifts, and always a good selection of transient books from our local library and the “little library” our neighbors have in front of their house.
After reading hundreds of books over the last 5+ years, some over and over. . . and over . . .and over again, here are our families favorites.
Note: I’ve broken the selection into two categories – little kids, and bigger kids. One thing to consider, our oldest is only 5 so we are just getting into chapter books (with us reading those to her) so obviously this list is not complete. Maybe I’ll do a second round once we’ve worked our way through a few more chapter books. . .and then a third round once she starts reading by herself.
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Little ones: We’ll call this birth to about 2 or 3 years of age. We found board books without flaps on the pages (little hands are rather effective at removing them) to be best for this age. Lets face it, little ones rip paper and we got tired of carefully piecing book pages back together. Board books are also great for little ones to flip through by themselves, and perfect for the car (both because they are indestructible, and because usually they are smaller and easier to flip through.)
- Some Bugs || I love this book. The illustrations are SO fun, and kids love all the bug sounds in the story. We got a soft cover, paper page version of this and read it so much it’s pretty much destroyed – I’m thrilled to see it’s available as a board book too.
- Bear Snores On || A newer addition to our library, both my girls LOVE this and I truly enjoy reading it. It’s a sweet tale, that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and as a bonus the illustrations are lovely.
- My Snow Globe: A Sparkly Peek-Through Story || A fun, winter-themed animal book. We received this as a gift from a family friend, who is also a mom that appreciates books. Her kids love it, and so do our!
- Goodnight Moon || Totally a classic, but one I really enjoyed reading to my kids when they were younger.
- Giraffes Can’t Dance || This book was gifted by a friend, and ended up being (and still is) a family-favorite. A fun, and a bit silly, story of a giraffe who finds his groove. For bonus fun, see if you can find the cricket on every page; my daughters get a kick out of it doing that.
- First 100 Words || This would make a great new baby or first birthday gift. It’s not a mind-blowing read, just super simple with lots of great pictures and bright colors; a book little ones like to flip through themselves.
- Pete the Cat: I love my white shoes || OK, so this is NOT a board book. . .but it’s my 2.5 year olds favorite, so I had to add it to the list. We read this so often to our older daughter, that by the end we all had it memorized. Just a fun tale of a groovy cat who doesn’t let stepping in stuff ruin his day. Almost every page of our copy has been pieced back together, but it’s soooo worth it.
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Bigger kids: I’d call this category 3-4 years old and up. Our favorites are books that inspire curiosity, are well-written, and generally have some kind of meaningful message without it being so obvious it feels shoved down your throat. My girls do love a good princess story, and while we don’t hide those from them (trust me, I’ve read every Barbie mermaid book out there) I do try to veer away from those as much as possible.
- Journey || This beautifully-illustrated book does not have any text, making it a fun challenge for parents to create an ever-changing narrative and/or for kids to imagine the story themselves.
- Sleep Like A Tiger || Such beautiful illustrations (by the very talented Pamela Zagarenski) accompany this darling story. It’s not surprising it’s a Caldecott Medal winning book. This is one I’d put in the little one category as well, however it is not a board book (our copy definitely has a few pages taped back together.)
- Lola Dutch || Such a sweet story written by husband and wife team. Both our girls love it, and squealed with excitement when I told them recently a sequel will be released soon.
- David Finds a Poem || a joy to read; curious Daniel builds a beautiful poem during a day spent chatting with animals about what a poem means to them. When my girls ask me to choose a book, this is the one I reach for most often.
- Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls || This is a new addition to our library, and right now we are all truly enjoying it (and learning a lot!) This is the book my daughter asks for every night, and one that usually ends up with one of us searching on Google for these amazing characters we’ve never heard of before. Now, I will say – I don’t necessarily care for every single story in the book. . .but the rest are fantastic.
- The Girl Who Ran || Not going to lie, I definitely got choked up the first time I read this to my girls. . .and I still have a hard time getting through it. I’m not sure what it is, I’m really not even much of a runner, there is just something about it. It’s a very inspiring story about Bobbi Gibbs, a woman who ran the Boston Marathon in the 1960’s when women were not allowed to be a part of long distance races.
- Nature Anatomy: The curious parts & pieces of the natural world || I’m a sucker for hand-drawn illustrations & of nature/ecology/biology books, so this is a win for me. My older daughter loves this book too; it’s a great overview of a ton of ecological topics, from animals to plants, oceans to mountains. It’s certainly not all-inclusive, however I love that it doesn’t just cover the well-known players in the ecological world.
- The Little House || A story by Virginia Lee Burton, who also created Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, about a happy home and the changing landscape that surrounds it.
I’d love to hear what your favorite books are! I’m hoping to keep adding to this list, both to include a category for older kids, but also to add more to these two categories. Books make wonderful baby shower, birthday, and holiday gifts; and to be honest, the gifts we most appreciate receiving.