It’s been a while since my last Kid Lit post, but I assure you that Charleston and I have continued reading up a storm. In addition to regularly reading through our own books (including several books Charleston received as birthday and Christmas gifts), we check out about fifteen new books from the library each week.
With this continuous stream of new titles coming into our lives, we’re constantly stumbling upon new favorites. And while I would love to share every one of them with you, I’m limiting myself to eleven titles that have recently risen to the top. Charleston adores each of these books, and all of them meet my own standards for quality children’s literature.
Alphabet Mystery, by Audrey Wood: This fun book from the much-loved author of The Napping House promotes letter recognition in a non-traditional format. The story begins when Little x goes missing and the other letters from Charley’s Alphabet embark on a rescue mission. When they find Little x, they discover that he’s been feeling neglected at home because he’s rarely used. But when the letters encounter a villain who wants to turn them into alphabet soup, Little x gets a chance to prove his usefulness. The three-dimensional digital illustrations aren’t my favorite, but Charleston loved the vibrant colors, and we both enjoyed the cute wordplay and spotting/identifying letters.
The Dream Jar, by Lindan Lee Johnson: In this whimsical story about dreams, family, and the power of imagination, a young girl’s older sister teaches her the secret for turning bad dreams into good ones. This would be a fantastic book for comforting children facing recurrent nightmares. Though bad dreams haven’t been a problem for us, The Dream Jar jumpstarted some great conversations about sleep, dreams, and imagination. Charleston especially enjoyed entering into the magical illustrations and sweet sister dynamic (he always loves books about siblings).
Franklin Says I Love You, by Paulette Bourgeois: I remember the Franklin books from when I was little, and was surprised when Charleston requested we check one out from the library. The prose is less clever and engaging than most current picture book series, but Charleston doesn’t seem to mind one bit. He’s fallen hard for the character of Franklin, and these have quickly became his most-requested books every time we’re at the library. I appreciate the sweet messages at the heart of each book, especially this one about Franklin searching for the perfect birthday gift for his mother. Charleston and I are both suckers for a sentimental mother/son story, and this one delivers!
Mogie: the Heart of the House, by Kathi Appelt: This is the charming and totally heartwarming true story of a Labradoodle named Mogie who becomes an inspiration to children in a Ronald McDonald House. While Mogie’s puppy siblings are Service Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, and Show Ring Dogs, Mogie’s talent is identifying the needs of sick kids including Gage, who is staying at the house and needs help getting his groove back. This book hit especially close to home since members of our MOPS community recently spent a few months at a Ronald McDonald House while their son was hospitalized for heart failure. While we thankfully haven’t had first-hand experience with long-term hospitalization, this book helped Charleston gain understanding and empathy for those who have.
Mr. Postmouse’s Rounds, by Marianne Dubuc: The story here is a very simple one, following Mr. Postmouse as he makes his daily mail deliveries to the animals around town. The magic of this book lies in the illustrations: with its intricate cross-section drawings of various animals’ homes, Mr. Postmouse’s Rounds is a true feast for the eyes! Charleston and I literally spent a whole hour with this book the first time we read it, because there is just so much to look at! In subsequent readings, we’ve enjoyed playing “I Spy” on each page, and making up stories for each of the animal characters.
Playdates Rule!, by Rob McClurkan: Playdates Rule! is a hilarious story about Ezra, a little boy who can’t wait for his friend Finley to come over for a playdate. But Ezra’s parents are in for a big surprise when they discover “little” Finley is actually an elephant! Our librarian read this aloud at a recent story time, and while Charleston and the other preschoolers were just on the cusp of understanding the book’s humor, the adults in the room couldn’t stop chuckling. Any parent who has hosted a playdate, or whose child’s friends aren’t exactly what we expected, will relate!
The Pout-Pout Fish and the Bully-Bully Shark, by Deborah Diesen: This is the only book we’ve read from this series, and I was so impressed with the clever rhyming, vibrant illustrations, and important messages about friendship and bullying. The story provided an excellent springboard for a conversation about kindness and how to react towards children who are acting unkind or breaking the rules. I can imagine this book would be a Kindergarten teacher’s best friend!
Secrets of Animal Camoflouge: A Shine-a-Light Book, by Carron Brown: Charleston has been majorly into interactive books (such as flip-the-flap and look-and-find books) lately, so this birthday gift was totally up his alley! Charleston reads this book with a flashlight in hand so he can “discover” the animal hiding on each page. In addition to the beautiful pictures, each page includes some cool and interesting facts about animals and how they camouflage in the wild.
Tikki Tikki Tembo, by Arlene Mosel: I loved this classic Chinese folktale as a child, and was so happy that Charleston enjoyed it, too. We had fun singing Tikki Tikki’s long name together and tracing the lines of the lovely line and wash illustrations. I’m always striving to bring more cultural and historical diversity into Charleston’s reading life, and while many of these diverse titles aren’t a hit with him, this one definitely was.
Where’s Mommy, by Beverly Donofrio: Maria and Mouse Mouse are best friends. They also share a house, but their families don’t know it—because Maria is a person and Mouse Mouse is a mouse! One evening, both girls’ mothers go missing, and Maria and Mouse Mouse go wandering from room to room in search of their missing moms. This book’s intricate illustrations are a delight, showcasing the details of Maria’s suburban life and Mouse Mouse’s parallel one. Like Mr. Postmouse’s Rounds, this book provided hours of visual entertainment for us.
Wild About Books, by Judy Sierra: In this silly rhymed story, librarian Molly McGrew accidentally drives her bookmobile through a zoo and finds herself tasked with matching each animal with the perfect book. It’s never too early to get kids on board with books-about-books, and this fanciful one is such a joy to read. This would be a great pick for parents struggling to get their children excited about libraries and reading.
If you’re a parent to littles, what books have your kids been reading lately? Do you spy any favorites? Any titles to recommend?