In belated honor of Father’s Day, it’s time to share my favorite children’s books, otherwise known as “Books Kids Love, and Ones This Dad Loves to Read to Them.”
How does a book make it on this super exclusive list? It’s simple.
First, it has to be something my kids love. Both of my kids have fairly extensive libraries of books. I must have read hundreds of books to them over the years. But to make this list, both my son and my daughter have to be fans.
Second, this book has to hold up on a fourth or seventh or seventy-fifth reading. If you’ve ever struggled through a dead boring children’s book only to hear the dreaded “Again!!”, you know what horror awaits if you don’t choose wisely.
Third, this book has to appeal to adults too (namely me). An actual theme. Outstanding illustrations. Solid writing. Laughs (or even tears). My kids know when I’m enjoying a book, and they enjoy it so much more when I’m into it too.
So, without further ado, the winners are:
1. Bark George, by Jules Feiffer. This proves that a book doesn’t have to be complicated or involved to work on every level. It’s a quick read that kids can master fast. The illustrations are simple but hilarious. And it lends itself perfectly to a high energy “Dad read” to really amp up the laughs. My all-time favorite.
2. Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, by Doreen Cronin. Illustrated by Betsy Lewin. Another classic, a Caldecott Honor book, this is one of the few books that worked equally well when my kids were very young and still engages them now that they’re well into reading on their own. It has great repetition for the youngest kids but a real story and terrific illustrations that older kids enjoy too.
Be forewarned though: this book falls into that trap of a runaway classic spawning a series of so-so (or worse) follow-ups. (I’m looking at you, If You Take A Mouse to the Movies: A Special Christmas Edition).
3. Anything from the Henry and Mudge Series by Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by Sucie Stevenson. A great introduction to chapter books, the Henry and Mudge stories share the adventures of a young boy and his lovable dog, Mudge. Cute enough to engage your kid, with bits and pieces of sarcastic wit that will make you chuckle to yourself. My favorite in the series is Henry and Mudge and the Happy Cat, though so many of them are good it’s hard to pick a bad one.
4. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney. Illustrated by Anita Jeram. You know it, you love it. Everyone knows it and loves it. But I can’t read this book without tearing up. Call me a sap if you must, I don’t care. It’s a simple, beautiful premise that’s flawlessly executed. Kids love it and you’ll love reading it to them. What more could you ask for?
Have a favorite of your own? Share it in the comments, and happy reading.
And happy belated Father’s Day to all the Dads!