There are so many great children's books available nowadays, but there are definitely some that separate themselves from the pack. For every family those special books are different, which is something to be celebrated that different books spark joy for different people. Having Lydia has opened me up to some of the newer children's books out there that are gorgeous and have wonderful messages to them, and wanted to share some of our favorites with you!
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I know that for myself, the stories I tend to gravitate towards most to buy or borrow from the library for Lydia are classic, any times set on a farm or traditional setting, or are characters that she seems to connect with. For instance, she loves bears like Winnie the Pooh and Paddington, so bear books are definitely a trend in our home. She also has taken after me with her love of sheep (I could not be more proud!) and loves reading books about "sheepies."
Some of the books I have listed are books that I greatly enjoyed as a child and could not wait to share with Lydia, but others are new books that have come out in recent years and are so delightful! What is so fun about kids books is that even as an adult, there are so many wonderful stories that I also find entertaining and educational. It makes the experience of reading together even more special because we are both invested in the story and form a bond in reading it with one another!
I have divided this list of some of our favorite children's books into categories to make it easier to decipher and see which books resonate most for your family. I did not list all of our favorites, since that is quite a numerous list, and some of our favorites are in board book form rather than picture book form. If you want to see some of our favorite board books, check out my blog post on those here. Let's see if some of our favorites are some of your favorites, too!
Classics (at least, for my childhood!)
The Mitten by Jan Brett
Annie and the Wild Animals by Jan Brett
The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
Smudge, the Little Lost Lamb by James Herriot
Ten in the Bed by Penny Dale
These books are a literal handful of some of the classic books from my childhood, but they were unique and definitely loved by myself and my brother. It has been so sweet to introduce Lydia to these books and see her enjoy them as well!
I think of all five of these, Ten in the Bed is her favorite because we will read that book before bed some nights, but we make it a full body experience! We will read it and bounce Lydia on our knees, or tip her over to either side as we read, "Roll over! Roll over!" which just makes her giggle uncontrollably. She loves this book and it is usually read multiple times in one night because of how much she loves it.
Any book by Jan Brett, in my opinion is going to be beautifully illustrated and have an interesting story to it. I grew up loving Annie and the Wild Animals and The Mitten best by her, but other greats from my childhood would have to be The Hat, The Wild Christmas Reindeer, Town Mouse Country Mouse, and Armadillo Rodeo.
Smudge, the Little Lost Lamb was also a book that I loved reading over and over again because I love sheep, but Lydia also really enjoys the book! She loves the illustrations and does repeat "sheepie" all throughout the story, which I feel really adds to it haha! It is also just a sweet story about a lost lamb and a little girl who finds the lamb and nurses it back to health before being able to return the lamb to her classmate. Very sweet, very cute, highly recommend.
And then there is The Little House, which I only recently read to Lydia for the first time and fell in love with it instantly. Since we have a small house, this book felt like a lovely reminder that sometimes small houses are great houses! I also love that it is a house that realizes it appreciates the simpleness of living a country life, which is definitely how Aaron and I feel and want to raise our children to appreciate.
Ladybug Girl by David Soman & Jacky Davis
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
A Stone Sat Still by Brendan Wenzel
When Lydia was born and we realized we had a daughter (her gender was a surprise!), it was very important to me to bring her up with empowerment. I wanted her to grow up knowing she is equal to boys and has every right to the same opportunities should she choose them. It has been important to me to read books to her that showcase the power and opportunity of having choice.
What I really liked about the books listed above is that they show you don't have to do something so extraordinary to be important in this world or make a difference. You can make the world a better place by being an adventurous little girl, a woman who plants beautiful lupines throughout her community, or a steady stone that is so many things to the creatures around it.
Empowering our children is not always about telling them that when they do something incredible they should feel accomplishment, because sometimes it is truly in those little things we do that we make the greatest impact. Those goals and choices can also be much easier to make and give a child confidence to them try the things that are extraordinary.
Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick
Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall
The Snowy Nap by Jan Brett
Chomp Goes the Alligator by Matthew Van Fleet
The Scarecrow by Beth Ferry
The stories listed above are all stories that we have read to Lydia many times and have greatly enjoyed together as a family. Though the Ox-Cart Man is the oldest book on the list coming out in 1979, I never read this book as a child that I can remember (born in 1990!). My sister-in-law got this book for Lydia as a gift and we have loved reading the story about a farmer going to Portsmouth Market and trading his goods. We love stories that are set in historical time periods and this book certainly gives you that feeling of being in New Hampshire in the Fall during a harvest time.
The Scarecrow is also primarily a Fall based book, but has beautiful representations of all the seasons that Lydia loves to look at. It is a lovely story about a scarecrow who befriends a crow and their unexpected friendship, which has some sad parts (is it weird to tear up while reading children's books?? Yes, cool, forget I said anything) but has a truly heartwarming end. We got this book this past Fall and it has been a huge hit with Lyds!
We already covered the goddess who is Jan Brett, so it goes without saying that The Snowy Nap is a cute story about a hedgehog with more delightful illustrations that Lydia enjoys. We love reading this book during the Winter with a cup of cocoa!
Chomp Goes the Alligator was a gift from my brother for Lydia last Christmas and she loves this book so very much. There is a tab that you can pull to make the alligator go "chomp, chomp, chomp!" and she loves getting to pull that tab. She also, tragically, loves to yank the alligator head off, so it defeats the purpose of the tab since there is no alligator top jaw to chomp with. We have used a lot of glue on that book, let me tell you. This book is a great book that covers counting, textures, and rhyme as well as being a lot of fun to read!
Lastly is the actual story of Winnie the Pooh with the book Finding Winnie. My mom and I were able to get an autographed copy from An Unlikely Story (my favorite bookstore in Plainville, MA! Stay tuned for this bookstore in my future post about New England bookstore!) so this is a very special book to us. Lydia absolutely loves Winnie the Pooh, so having this book as part of our collection is wonderful. Aaron and I also really enjoy reading this story and felt like we learned so much about one of the most beloved children's characters of all time. I highly recommend this book to any parent or even as a unique book to give as a gift!
What are some of the books that you and your children tend to gravitate towards? Are any of the books listed here similar or the same as some of your favorite books? Comment below with your favorites!