Stories that feature everything from (possibly) stray cats to busy-body spiders
Parents and children reading together is one of those particularly cool things that's just plain fun but that also is good for kids — even if they don't know it. But it's fair to say that parents would prefer to share books with their kids that are enjoyable for adults, too. (Especially if you're going to have to read a book, you know, a hundred nights in a row.)
Inspired by this week's cover story on Vada Azeem's “The Boy Who Tried to Touch the Sun,” here is a list of books that, in one way or another, do just that.
“Are You My Mother?,” P.D. Eastman
Starting here with my all-time favorite, both from when I was young and when my daughter was little. The silly story has comic appeal, and the facial expressions of the characters make this a clear win. Bonus points for parents who give passionate performances of “SNORT!”
“Mr. Pine's Purple House,” Leonard Kessler
The story about wanting to be unique was another multi-generational favorite in our house. A great lesson about not giving up fighting for what makes you, you.
“The Very Busy Spider,” Eric Carle
Carle is a go-to author/illustrator for children, and with good reason. This one was our favorite — classic Carle with a repetitive story and a surprise at the end, accompanied by his beautiful images.
“Black Cat,” Christopher Myers
Collage-style illustrations and wonderful wordplay and imagery highlight this story of a (maybe) stray cat making its way through the streets of Harlem.
“On the Day You Were Born,” Debra Frasier
Large fields of contrasting color illustrate this story of the interconnectedness of the natural world.
“Moo Moo Brown Cow,” Jakki Wood
I'm telling you what, making animal sounds with your young toddler rules.
“The Story of Ferdinand,” Munro Leaf
This classic I learned from my parents, who had it read to them when they were kids. Here's a story that reinforces a both nonconformist and peace-making message.
“Too Much Noise,” Ann McGovern
Lots of smiles in this book about appreciating what you have. Supported by terrific use of repetitive language.
“The Paper Bag Princess,” Robert Munsch
Munsch is brilliant, and this tale has a message of empowerment for young girls and equality for young boys.
Bonus picks from Maggie Smith
A local writer with two young kids? You're working on a piece about children's books? Yeah, you should probably ask her.
Smith cited Gertrude Chandler Warner's “The Boxcar Children” as a personal favorite, and said she and her daughter have been reading a lot of Roald Dahl, calling works such as “James and the Giant Peach,” “…deliciously naughty books [in which] terrible things happen [but] good comes out on top.”