Perfect Children's Books

From my experience as a bookseller at both The Read Leaf and The King's English, and also having a mother who read to me and now as a mother who reads to her children, I have read hundreds and hundreds of children's picture books. There are many I love, probably two dozen favorites. But there are very few that I actually think are perfect. Writing for children is exceedingly difficult, because they are the most unforgiving audience. Too long? Forget it. Too confusing? They're outta here. Too grown-up? They don't want to hear the ending. Tonight I thought of my personal list of Perfect Children's Books, which is of course subjective and fairly arbitrary. I thought of it because of a library book I picked up today, which has become a new perfect book in our household.
The House on East 88th Street, by Bernard Waber, Ages 4-7.
I think this book is perfect because the story is engaging, the vocabulary is just advanced enough, and the onomatopoeias are the icing on the cake. Imagining a crocodile sizing up hotel bathtubs around the world makes me laugh every time. Splish. Splash. Sploosh! 
The Rainbabies, by Laura Melmed. Ages 4-7.
The illustrations definitely make this story. Its so magical, and it never fails to 'hit the spot' when we read it.
Dear Zoo, by Rod Campbell. Ages 2-4.
This is the best board book of all time. Simple images, lots of room to explore, and animals!
The Merbaby, by Teresa Bateman. Ages 6-10.
This was the book we found today. Fairy tales are probably my favorite literary genre in fiction, but for children they are almost always too wordy. Even the fairy tales marketed for the very littlest kids are too wordy! I felt like this book had the right amount of magic, the right amount of words, and just enough advanced vocabulary to get the kids to ask questions. I just loved this book!
If you Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Numeroff. Ages 2-6.
This book is just so funny, and a sure-fire win. I think its perfect because it begs to be read aloud, and the kids are engaged for each and every page turn.
Jamberry, by Bruce Degen. Ages 2-4.
The rhythm in this little book is irresistible. I don't typically like children's books that are all in rhymes because you lose the kids. Even in Dr. Seuss, eventually the kids' eyes glaze over because the repetitive sentence structure bores them. But this rhymed kid's book I love, its so full of joy and color.

I am sure there are more I could put on this list, and I know this is a subject people have strong opinions about. But according to me, these are the creamiest of the cream of the crop.

1 comment:

  1. I approve of this list. And I approve of you, too.