Story Time—Our List of Top Reads for Kids

“Crunch time” for holiday shopping is officially here. And you likely have some little ones on your list yet to buy for. So, you can’t find the exact Pillow Pet Junior is coveting, opt for the gift of reading instead. A magical book can grow a child’s imagination, education and sense of wonder—and it won’t go the way of the Zhu Zhu Pet three years from now.

Sure we’re publishers, authors and illustrators of children’s books. But most of all we’re mothers, always searching the shelves of bookstores and libraries for another good read for kids. And there are plenty to choose from. If you ask us, there can never be too many children’s books.

Of course we’re not the least bit biased when we tell you that we really dig our own children’s stories (Lily + the Imaginary Zoo, The Yellowest Yellow Lab, Frankie Goes to Fenway: The Tale of the Faithful Red Sox–Loving Mouse, and our newest book, by artist Priscilla Hayes, The Too Much Love Story). But if you must search beyond Three Bean Press’s titles, here are some of our personal favs:

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. Because you can’t deny its magical power to make baby’s eyelids peacefully heavy.

Tikki Tikki Tembo retold by Arlene Mosel. For the longest and most rhythmic character name that’s like a fun tongue twister—how fast can you say it?—and for Blair Lent’s gorgeous illustrations.

Amelia Bedelia series by Peggy Parish. For housekeeper Amelia Bedelia’s delightfully literal mind—she makes sponge cake out of sponges and when asked to draw the curtains, she does a drawing of them—that will have kids roaring with laughter over her misunderstood idioms.

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. For its classic poems that are full of heart, whimsy and hilarious moments. Don’t miss “Sick.”

Corduroy by Don Freeman. Because there’s something undeniably charming about this little bear, even if he is missing a button.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. Because can’t we all commiserate? From the getting the prize-less cereal box to being forced to buy the plain white sneakers, this poor kid can’t catch a break today.

Strega Nona by Tomi de Paola. For the bountiful pasta that overtakes an Italian town when Big Anthony tries to use Strega Nona’s magic pot. Yes, there is such a thing as too much pasta.

Horton Hatches the Egg and Horton Hears a Who! by Dr. Seuss. For the elephant’s earnest nature: He meant what he said, and he said what he meant. An elephant’s faithful, one hundred percent. And he realizes that “a person’s a person, no matter how small.”

Polar Express and Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg. For Van Allsburg’s glorious illustrations, and for showing kids how far their imaginations can take them.

Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt. Because who can resist bunny’s soft coat and playing a game of peek-a-boo with Paul? These simple, tactile pages are interactive for baby.

Eloise by Kay Thompson. You simply must have these books. Eloise is really “rawther” entertaining on her escapades with Nanny, Weenie and Skipperdee in the Plaza, to Paris and beyond.

Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw. For the riotous rhymes about a flock of foolish, jeep-driving sheep.

The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman. For the picky Peters’ appetites, and how they all combine to make something wonderful. And, of course, for Marla Frazee’s brilliant illustrations (look for her other books too, as her drawings engage parents and children alike).

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. For the naughty monkeys, the exasperated cap peddler, and for the book’s ability to get kids to join in telling the classic tale.

The Napping House by Audrey Wood. For its repetitive yet fun text about a slumbering mouse, snoozing cat, dozing dog, dreaming child, snoring granny, cozy bed and—yikes—a wakeful flea.

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss. For the little boy’s faith, against all odds, that the carrot will surely come up.

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey. For its tender and beautifully told story of a blueberry-picking trip in Maine gone slightly awry. And for McCloskey’s always striking artwork.

Olivia by Ian Falconer. For the precocious little pig’s unlimited list of talents. And for her wardrobe.

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems. For Trixie’s unwavering love for her beloved stuffed animal and for Mo Willems’ inspired—and hilarious—illustrations.

On the Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier. For its celebratory tone and the way it shows a newborn’s connection to nature and to his or her place in the universe. We’re choked up just thinking about it.

Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney. Because this rhyming tale is just so fun to read—we never tire of reciting “llama drama”—plus, that long-necked little llama is pretty darn cute.

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds. For Reynolds’ wonderful pen-and-ink drawings and watercolors, and a message that shows how a good teacher can unleash hidden talent in even the most reluctant student.

Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy by David Soman and Jacky Davis. We especially like this follow-up to Ladybug Girl for its imaginative take on playground play, its colorful costumes and its fantastic art. Oh, and we also like that it’s written by two authors.  

The Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park. For the spirited main character and the delight that readers new to chapter books feel when they learn they can join Junie B. in her fun—and slightly irreverent—antics.

Do you love these books too? What are your favorite reads for kids?


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