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My Top 7 Favorite Books for Young Children

Updated: May 29

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When my children were younger, I spent a lot of time reading them stories. We made frequent trips to the library or bookstore, to carefully select what we would be reading that week. There are hundreds of wonderful titles to choose from, and we enjoyed almost all that we shared together, but a few stood the test of time. They became the tales that were told over and over, until the pages were worn and we knew all the words by heart. These are the books at the center of some of my most cherished memories, and the ones I long for my grandchildren to experience now as well. In my mind’s eye I can still see my little ones’ sweet faces, as they handed these well-loved favorites to me, asking for bedtime stories.

1) Alexander and theTerrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Ray Cruz Have you ever had one of those days where nothing seems to go right, and you just feel overall irritable and crabby? Guess what? Children feel like that too sometimes. This sweet tale of Alexander and his hard day brings some humor to talking about frustrations, and shows kids that things generally turn out fine in the end.

2) Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak I don’t know why it happens as we age, but adulthood tends to distance us from the once vivid imagination of our youth. This book is a chance for grown ups to revisit that magical world with their kids, and shows how make-believe can sometimes help us navigate through real life situations. There were definitely times when raising my crazy crew, that it felt a bit like the land of the wild things indeed.

3) Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss In my humble opinion, this is Dr. Suess’s finest work. Highly motivational with fun, colorful illustrations. I love it for children, but have often used it when speaking to groups of adults as well. It’s a poignant reminder that life is a journey full of ups and downs, but no matter what comes our way we should never, never, never give up. There are great things in store up ahead.

4) Love You Forever by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Sheila McGraw I have never been able to get all the way through this one without tears coming to my eyes. Not once! This lovely book perfectly captures the tender love between a mother and her son. The relationship changes over time as the child grows up, but the powerful bond remains. I’ve been a mom for 30 years now, so I’ve experienced nearly every stage of parenthood, but this book continues to be relevant, always and forever. Hug your babies, even when they get taller than you. Maybe especially then.

5) There’s No Such Thing as a Dragon by Jack Kent Not everything in life is pleasant, and often we want to pretend things don’t exist, so we can avoid thinking about them or dealing with them. But, that rarely makes the problems go away, and sometimes can actually make them get worse. That’s what happens to the cute little dragon in this book. He must continue to grow larger and larger, until he finally gets acknowledged as being real. This is a fun, whimsical story that can be told on its own just for fun, or used as a way to open a discussion with your child about an uncomfortable issue.

6) The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper, illustrated by George and Doris Hauman I wouldn’t be able to count the number of times I have read this story aloud, but it’s got to be in the thousands. Seriously! Something about the sing-song repetitive verse just mesmerizes kids, and they love to jump in on the parts they know. The lessons learned from the little blue engine’s determination will stay with them, that when the going gets tough you just keep right on going. After the tough uphill push, it’ll be smooth sailing on the other side of the mountain.

7) Where’s the Baby? by Pat Hutchins If you’ve ever had (or been yourself) a mischievous child, this is the book for you. My kids found it hilarious to see all of the trouble the baby monster managed to get into, and how no matter what awful thing he did, his grandmother thought he could do no wrong. As I have become a grandma myself now, I totally get that! This is a lesser known, but completely adorable book.

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