Story time is the best time of the day. Whether we're snuggled up on the couch or cozy in our pjs before bed, reading stories with my little ones is one of my favorite things to do. Everyone has a favorite book they remember from their childhood, and every day, parents and kids are discovering new classics of their own. There are many fabulous children's books out there, some of which everyone knows about and others we would have never discovered had my son not simply pulled a random book off a library shelf. I created this blog to share some of these wonderful stories with you. Think of it as a year's worth of the best children's books around, since no day should be without a great story. In the end, I hope we'll all have discovered at least a few new titles that will have made their way onto our list of family favorites. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day 43: The Giving Tree

I'm not usually aware of when it's Arbor Day, but today was one of those magical springtime days when all of a sudden, I look around and realize that pop!  All the leaves are suddenly out on the trees.  I just love that.  Quite fitting for Arbor Day, I think.  When thinking about what book to feature today, the first one that came to mind was the Giving Tree.  I'll be honest, though.  I wasn't sure whether to write about this book or not.  I remember my mom reading this to me as a child, and also remember that it sometimes would make her cry.  At the time, I think I liked it, but I until I saw it on the library shelf the other week, I couldn't recall much about the story itself.  As soon as I picked it up and read it again, though, it all came rushing back.  The innocent boy, playing in the tree's shade, who grows older and more self-absorbed as the book goes on.  The magnificent tree, who gives and gives and gives until she can give no more to her beloved boy.  Of course, I get teary when I read it now, too.  It's touching and tragic and moving all at once; a story about unconditional love, selfishness, and acceptance.  On the jacket cover, the book is said to be a "story of unforgettable perception;" a perfect descriptor, in my opinion.  There are so many ways one could interpret this book, and the many lessons to be learned vary greatly, I think.  It could be about human relationships, a parent's love for his child, a metaphor for how we treat our planet and environment, or simply a story of give and take.  I read this to my son the other day, and while he seemed to like it okay, I'm sure the overarching message of the story went right over his head.  I think he really was more amused by the simple illustrations than anything else.  In a way, though, I think I'm glad he didn't get what the story was really about.  I wouldn't want my three year old feeling the extreme sadness I feel when I read it.  It's a beautiful sadness, in many ways, but sadness, nonetheless.  Then again, maybe that is the beauty of Silverstein's work in this classic story.  Children and adults will read this book differently, and it will no doubt have a different meaning to people of different ages and experiences.  I do think this is truly a great children's book -- and a great book for adults, too -- but I don't necessarily think it is the perfect book for young children. I'll read it again to my kids someday down the road, for sure.  In the meantime, I'll keep doing my best to ensure that they always feel my unconditional love.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day 42: Snuggle Puppy

Time to feature my daughter's favorite book at the moment, Snuggle Puppy.  We have many of Boynton's classic board books, and both my son and daughter love her fun rhymes and silly illustrations.  I'll admit that Snuggle Puppy was not an instant favorite of mine, mostly because I couldn't quite figure out how the song was supposed to go and the rhyming meter seemed a bit off, but eventually I just made up my own tune and the story grew on me.  (I have since heard how the song is supposed to go -- it's on Boynton's Philadelphia Chickens cd and can also be found on youtube.  I think it's much more fun to sing the story than just read it aloud!)  My son likes it, but my daughter LOVES it.  Next to Brown Bear, Brown Bear, it is her favorite book to read at bedtime, and she even gives the puppies wet, slobbery kisses on just about every page.  The message is undoubtedly adorable:  "Oooh snuggle puppy of mine, everything about you is especially fine.  I love what you are, I love what you do.  Fuzzy little snuggle puppy, I love you!"  I also love how throughout the course of the song, the mother and her little puppy make chocolate chip cookies together.  Reading stories, singing, and baking cookies are three of our favorite things to do!  My daughter loves the delightful, colorful illustrations and I know it's one story she is always happy to read over and over.  We hope you and your snuggle puppies love it, too!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Day 41: Jamberry

If my son could turn himself into any children's book character, he would probably want to be the boy (or the bear) in Jamberry.  Berryland might just be his perfect place:  it has rivers of blueberries, shortbread cookie lily pads, marshmallow cat-tails, jelly bean bushes, meadows of strawberry jam, and trains full of blackberries.  The adorable animals who call Berryland home certainly know how to have a good time, with their berryband jamboree and berry-filled fireworks.  We had borrowed this fabulous story from the library several times, so decided that we needed our own copy.  (This is really becoming quite a dangerous trend... thankfully, this was the book the Easter Bunny left in our daughter's basket.)  Without a doubt, this is a positively brilliant children's book.  The rhythm and alliteration make it as fun to listen to as it is to read ("Quickberry!  Quackberry!  Pick me a blackberry!  Trainberry, trackberry, clickety-clackberry!") and the illustrations are whimsically wonderful.  It's easy to miss some of the finer details of the pictures, so be sure to look at them closely.  My favorite is the sign around the raspberry jam skating rink that says, "Please do not pick the jellyrolls."  I also love Degen's story-behind-the-story that is featured at the end of the book.  It reminds me of picking boxes of Maine blueberries in my grandmother's field, and I can only imagine the glory my son will be in when he can do the same this summer and eat them to his heart's content.  And then there will be the blueberry pies... yum!!  This is another story that is loved by kids of all ages -- both my son and daughter adore it -- and I am so happy to finally have a copy of our own.  Enjoy the jam jamboree!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Day 40: The Monster at the End of This Book

We were reintroduced to this classic Sesame Street tale when my brother-in-law brought it over for my son in ipad app form.  He had remembered that it had been one of my husband's favorite stories when he was little, so he went looking for it to share with our little monster.  There is an adorably amusing and interactive app available for download that features Grover reading this story aloud, and my son couldn't stop laughing each time he turned the page.  As soon as we saw it, my husband and I both said, "Oh I remember this book!!" and we read it over and over with our son, giggling right along with him.  Of course, we needed to get it in actual book form, so we passed the hint along to the Easter Bunny, who left it next to the marshmallow peeps in my son's Easter basket.  Perfect.  This is definitely a story that many parents will remember from their own childhood, and for good reason.  The Monster at the End of This Book stars lovable, furry old Grover, who reads the title and is immediately scared.  "On the cover, what did that say?  Did that say there will be a MONSTER at the end of this book???  IT DID?  Oh, I am so scared of monsters!!!"  He begs and pleads and tries every trick he can think of to keep us from turning the pages and getting closer to the monster at the end of the book -- tying the book up, nailing the pages together, building a brick wall -- but of course, what child (or parent) can resist?!  My son loves the fact that he is part of the story -- Grover is speaking directly to him, after all -- and laughs hysterically each time we read it.  If you can read it in your best Grover voice, it will be even funnier.  The suspense builds until we finally meet the dreaded monster on the last page... and you can guess who that is.  The Golden Book version is only $3.99 and the board book is $4.99 -- an absolute bargain for one of the silliest books you will ever read.  This is truly a classic favorite that will never get old!

Day 39: My Garden

I think it's finally safe to say that winter is gone here in New England (although it did snow at my grandmother's house in Maine the other day), and we're excited to enjoy the few days of lovely warm weather (and mud!) that spring brings before we're right into the heat of summer.  The buds are out on the trees, our azalea and daffodils are blooming, and it's time to start thinking about our garden!  We found this fabulous book on the "Spring" shelf the last time we were at the library and absolutely love it!  A little girl loves helping her mother in the garden, watering, weeding, and chasing away rabbits so that they don't eat all the lettuce.  Most of all, though, she loves to dream about what she would have in her own garden... flowers that bloomed forever, tomatoes as big as beach balls, seashells that grew out of the ground, and even a jelly bean bush.  "In my garden, the rabbits wouldn't eat the lettuce because the rabbits would be chocolate and I would eat them," and "the carrots would be invisible because I don't like carrots."  Her garden is even special at night, with morning glories that stay open, shining like stars, and strawberries that glow like lanterns. I love the sense of wonder and imagination that we feel when reading this lovely story, and Kevin Henkes' illustrations are, once again, beautiful.  We highly recommend this book and know it is another that we'll have to own ourselves someday.  What would you grow in your garden?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 38: Guess How Much I Love You

I suppose this classic book falls into the category of one that everyone already knows about, but I think it is still worth sharing, nonetheless.  I knew this book would make our list from the beginning, but thought of it again today when looking at all the cute, plush Easter bunnies in the store.  (I know hares and bunnies are different and it's not an Easter book at all, but there you go.)  Sam McBratney's adorable story about Little Nutbrown Hare and his father has been a favorite of parents and children since it was first published in 1994. I remember reading this to my brothers when they were little, and was so happy to receive it as a baby gift when my son was about to be born.  There are many books dedicated to the boundless love between parent and child, but this story is one of my favorites.  Little Nutbrown Hare is trying to think of a way to show Big Nutbrown Hare just how much he loves him:  as high as he can reach, as wide as his arms can stretch, as high as he can hop.  Of course, Big Nutbrown Hare can always reach farther and wider and hop higher, but Little Nutbrown Hare is determined to find the perfect expression of his love.  I always make it a point to tell my little ones every day that I love them more than anything in the whole wide world, or as my son likes to say, "in the whole wide car," since to him, that is really the ultimate in love.  If you haven't discovered this delightful story yet, definitely check it out.  Seeing your little one stretch his arms out so far that he almost falls over while saying, "I love you THIS much" is bound to bring a smile to your face.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day 37: The Little Mouse, the Red, Ripe Strawberry, and the Big, Hungry Bear

When I first set out on my mission to discover lots of great new books, I posted a status on facebook that asked my friends which children's book was their favorite.  A friend from high school, Brita Mess Nordin, suggested the Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear.  At first, I thought these were three separate titles, but I eventually figured out that its just one book with a rather long name (which made it much easier to find at the library.)  On the very first page, we meet the charming little mouse, who is just leaving his house with a long ladder in tow to pick a delectable strawberry.  He is obviously quite proud of and excited about his prize, until he hears about the big, hungry Bear.  "The big, hungry Bear can smell a red, ripe strawberry a mile away... Especially one that has just been picked."  The poor little mouse starts to fret about the safety of his delicious berry, until the cunning narrator offers the perfect solution.  The text is brief, overall -- some pages have as few as four words -- so the majority of the story is really told in Donald Wood's wonderful illustrations. To me, it is the pictures alone that make this book great and worthy of our list.  Wood captures the little mouse's emotions perfectly, from the pride our furry friend shows at going to pick his strawberry to the panic he feels when he realizes he won't be able to bury and hide it.  I heard my son reciting parts of this story to himself the other day as he was playing; a sure sign that there is something about this book that little ones just love.  So what is the only way in the whole wide world to save a red, ripe strawberry from a big, hungry Bear?  You'll have to read this book to find out. 

P.S.  We have a library copy, but I have heard that the board book version is slightly abridged.  I don't know if this is true since I have not compared the two side by side, but thought I would pass the message along anyway.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 36: I Took the Moon for a Walk

We first heard of this wonderful book from a follower of the blog, Jennifer Braga.  Thanks for the great recommendation, Jennifer!  As we do when friends suggest a good book, we added this story to our library list and brought it home the other week.  It has been a favorite bedtime story for the past few days in particular, as we've been watching the moon get fuller and brighter out my son's window each night.  (We just love a brilliant full moon!)  Alison Jay's illustrations match Carolyn Curtis' soft, gentle rhymes well, and the whole story has a very relaxing and soothing feel to it, making it perfect bedtime reading.  "I took the moon for a walk last night.  It followed behind like a still summer kite.  Though there wasn't a string or a tail in sight when I took the moon for a walk."  The moon follows the boy throughout his evening walk, "just like Harold and the Purple Crayon," as my son likes to point out.  Of course, every time we get to the end of the story and read the last line, my son also says, "he didn't really take the moon for a walk."  Despite taking it a bit too literally and needing me to explain the metaphor, he loves this book anyway!  We especially love reading the bonus pages at the end, "The Mysterious Moon" and "The World at Night," that tell about the moon's phases and cultural significance, nocturnal plants and animals, and even dreams.  I just love books that are informative in that way!  My son always asks to read those parts, and was trying to memorize the phases of the moon last night as he pointed at the pictures:  "new moon, crescent moon, half moon, gibbous moon, and full moon!"  If you can, take a few minutes to gaze at the moon with your little one tonight before snuggling up under the covers.  The next full moon will be on May 17th -- hopefully you can track down a copy of this delightful story by then.  Sweet dreams, everyone!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Day 35: Animal Boogie

After reading a status update from Barefoot Books about one of their stories, Animal Boogie, I decided we needed to check it out.  My son loves animals and loves to dance, so how could we go wrong?  We first found the video for it online and my son was instantly hooked.  He must have watched it five, maybe ten times in a row, dancing all around and leaping everywhere like the leopard.  Needless to say, finding at the library came next.  It's rhyming lyrics are fun to sing, and I can't imagine a toddler or preschooler anywhere who wouldn't love boogie-ing down to this book!  Elephants stomp, snakes slither, birds flap... and your little monkey is bound to be swinging along to the beat as you read.  "Down in the jungle where the leaves lie deep, What can you see learning how to leap?  With a leapy leap here and a leapy leap there, What's that creature learning how to leap?  It's a leopard!  It goes leap, leap, boogie woogie oogie!  Leap, leap, boogie woogie oogie!..."  You get the idea.  Fun, right?!  The illustrations are bright and colorful, and my son likes looking for the other animals hidden among the trees, as well.  The book is often sold with a cd, which makes it even better.  The score to the song does appear in the back of the book, but listening to it first (either on the cd or online video) is even easier.  There's nothing like a good book that gets kids singing and dancing!  Check out the video online ( or look for this fun story the next time you're at the library.  Your child will love it!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Day 34: Library Lion

As another tribute to National Library Week, I thought it only appropriate to feature our favorite book about libraries, Library Lion.  We discovered this wonderful story at our library, of course, and my son and I both love reading it.  It has everything that, to me, makes a book perfect:  beautiful illustrations that tell the story in and of themselves, endearing characters, a good moral, and a warm, happy ending.  There is a sort of timeless feel to this story, as well.  I don't know if it is the subtle, soft illustrations, or the fact that the lion sniffs at a card catalog, but whatever it is, I love it.  "One day, a lion came to the library.  He walked right past the circulation desk and up into the stacks...  No one was sure what to do.  There weren't any rules about lions in the library," but he was allowed to stay so long as he followed the rules.  No running, and most importantly, no roaring.  At first, the lion came just for story hour, but soon, he became librarian Miss Meriweather's helper, dusting shelves with his tail and licking envelopes for the overdue notices.  It is not long before everyone in the library comes to love the gentle lion; everyone, that is, except the grouchy library assistant, Mr. McBee.  "Lions, he thought, could not understand rules.  The did not belong in the library."  In a charmingly poignant series of events, we all come to learn an important lesson, even Mr. McBee.  "Sometimes, there are reasons for breaking the rules.  Even in the library."  I love the way we get to know Knudsen's characters so quickly and well, and Kevin Hawkes' illustrations do a marvelous job of depicting their moods and emotions.  Library Lion is a touching story that is simply a joy to read, and a wonderful ode to the magic of libraries everywhere.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 33: The Gruffalo

In honor of National Library Week and Drop Everything And Read day, we decided to visit one of our favorite local libraries this afternoon to find some great new books.  We had to get a few new Henry and Mudge, of course, but this book took home the prize for favorite story of the day.  The Gruffalo was recommended to me by Rose, a friend of the blog, and we are so happy that she shared this with us.  Thanks, Rose! 

The Gruffalo tells the story of a clever, quick-witted mouse who is taking a stroll through the deep dark wood.  He encounters several hungry predators along the way who try to lure him in -- ironically, a sly fox, wise owl, and slippery snake -- but each time he manages to scare them away with tales of his imaginary friend, the Gruffalo.  "He has terrible tusks, and terrible claws, and terrible teeth in his terrible jaws."  (The Gruffalo is rather reminiscent of a Wild Thing, to me.)  The Gruffalo doesn't really exist... or so mouse thinks!  When a Gruffalo actually appears in the woods and wants to eat mouse for lunch, our furry little friend once again succeeds in out-cunning his much larger foe.  I won't tell you much more, since it's fun to discover how this story plays out.  Donaldson's rhymes are clever, making this a fun book to read aloud, and Axel Scheffler's illustrations are equally as appealing.  We've already read this one four times since checking it out of the library today, so it must be good!  We've read a few other Donaldson books that will make our list at some point, so if you haven't yet discovered her works, look for them the next time you visit the library.   The Gruffalo was her first children's book.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Day 32: Just Go to Bed

Back in the fall, I asked friends to suggest some good books for my son, who was nearly three.  I was in a book funk, and needed to find something new.  Several people recommended the Little Critter series by Mercer Mayer, saying they are perfect for preschoolers.  They were so right!  As described on the back of the books, Mayer's Little Critter stories "address all the major issues of growing up," and they are wonderfully fun to read.  I don't know how I had managed to miss these before!  We have since acquired several Little Critter titles, mostly from our library book sales, but this one has to be one of our favorites.  My husband actually got this for our son for Christmas, and I love listening to them read it together.  It's time for bed, but of course Little Critter has too many other important things to do and be:  a cowboy rounding up cows, a space cadet zooming to the moon, a train engineer escaping from bandits... His dad, meanwhile, tries every trick in the book to get Little Critter in his pajamas and off to bed.  I think it's safe to say we've all been there!  My son just laughs and laughs when my husband hugs him and says in his most exasperated Daddy voice, "Just go to bed!!" As with so many of Mayer's books in this series, parents and children, alike, can't help but relate to the story and read it with a smile.  I especially love the expressions the mother Critter has on her face throughout the books, as well.  The illustrations are cute (my son loves finding the mouse in each picture, too), and the stories are creative and entertaining.  There are still many Little Critter titles we have not yet read, but this is definitely a favorite.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Day 31: Are You My Mother?

This book came to us as a well-loved hand-me-down, and it didn't take long for me to see why it had endured so much wear and tear.  Are You My Mother? is an adorable story about a baby bird who sets out to find his mother, who left the nest shortly before he hatched in search of food for her baby-to-be.  Having never seen his mother, the little bird has no idea what she looks like, so he mistakes all kinds of creatures for his mother along the way:  a kitten, a hen, a dog, a cow, even a plane and boat.   Determined to find her, he carries on until he sees what must be his mother.   He runs up to the big thing exclaiming, "Mother, Mother!  Here I am, Mother!"  But the big thing just says, "Snort!"  (The thing is really a steam shovel.  Silly bird!)   In the end, the Snort ends up saving the day and baby and mother are happily reunited.  While this storyline might not sound like anything exceptional, this book is great for a few reasons.  First, it uses simple, repetitive language throughout, which makes it a wonderful story for budding readers.  My son loves being able to recognize words on a page and anticipate what is coming next, and I love seeing him engage with the text of a book so enthusiastically.  Of course, he is most excited about arriving at the Snort at the end, but he easily recites parts of this story each time we read it with a big smile on his face.  The illustrations are simple, use only a few colors, and are not overly busy -- another reason why I think this book appeals to young readers.  I also love this book because the little bird reminds me of my son -- independent, curious, and determined.  This is another great story that is bound to be a classic in our house for years to come.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Day 30: A Visitor for Bear

"No one ever came to Bear's house.  It had always been that way, and Bear was quite sure he didn't like visitors.  He even had a sign."  NO VISITORS ALLOWED.  No visitors, that is, until a politely persistent, bright-eyed mouse comes along and insists on staying for a spot of tea, a bit of cheese, and a nice fire.  We recently borrowed this adorably endearing story from our local library and my son has loved reading it each day.  It features the solitary Bear and the small gray mouse, who manages to find his way back in to Bear's house no matter how hard Bear tries to keep him out.  Grouchy old Bear is simply trying to make his breakfast, but every time he turns around, there is the mouse!  (My son loves saying that part with each turn of the page.)  The mouse finally succeeds in wearing Bear down and allowing him to stay, promising to leave for good after his visit.  Grudgingly, Bear prepares their tea and a "crackling fire in the fireplace for two sets of toes."  Mouse is attentive, says the fire is lovely, and laughs heartily at Bear's jokes -- things no one has ever done before.  Soon enough, Bear is showing Mouse how he can do a headstand and offering him a second cup of tea.  Watching this change of heart is what makes this story so charming.  When Mouse insists on going as he promised he would -- after all, no visitors allowed! -- Bear can't stand the thought of him leaving.  And just like that, a great friendship is born.  I love the expressions on their faces throughout the story, subtle yet expressive, and Becker uses some great vocabulary words along the way, too.  My son can't help but laugh when the exasperated Bear exclaims things like, "Begone!" or, "This is impossible!  Intolerable!  Insufferable!"  I also love how at its heart, it is a story about becoming friends with someone you never expected and giving new friendship a chance; an important lesson for all children, I think.  There are several other tales about these two great friends, too, which we will be sure to look for the next time we are at the library.  In the meantime, we will undoubtedly be reading this one again and again.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day 29: That's not my...

I've been making it a point lately to find plenty of time to read to my daughter, who is 8 months old.  She is certainly exposed to many books and hears my son and I reading together at different times during the day, but she is at the age where she just wants to chew on all of his books and gets extremely frustrated when I won't let her.  (She's got her own collection she can drool on and try to eat.)  Some books we can all read together -- fortunately, my son still loves reading our board books, especially those he can read to us -- but a lot of his favorites these days aren't particularly suited to teething-crazy baby girls.  As a result, I really want to make sure that my daughter doesn't miss out on story times of her own.   I always read to her before putting her down for bed at night, and the Usborne Touchy-Feely "That's not my..." series is one of her favorites.  My son loved/loves them, too, and we have at least six of these titles:  That's not my... bear, puppy, bunny, snowman, polar bear, and monkey.  Oh, and we have That's not my penguin, too.  (We've gotten several of these as gifts.)  They make a perfect first book for newborns, with big, bright, simple illustrations and repetitive text.  Each page features a different texture that little ones can feel -- a scratchy tongue, soft ears, fluffy tail -- and the pages are super sturdy.  Most of our books are amazingly still intact after many reads, That's not my snowman and That's not my bear, excluded.  My son loved these the best!  I often wish the textured parts of the page were a bit bigger and there was more diversity in the adjectives used throughout the series, but the important thing is that babies and little ones love them just as they are.  With many titles to choose from, there is bound to be one in the series that your child will love.   They make great baby gifts, too!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Day 28: Make Way for Ducklings

What kind of Bostonian would I be if I didn't feature Robert McCloskey's classic, Make Way for Ducklings?  This wonderful story was a baby gift for my son, given to us by one of my students and his family.  Thank you, Kriers!  I love this book -- and other McCloskey titles, too -- but I think they tend to be for a slightly older age group and I didn't think it would capture my son's attention much until now.   I read it to him a few times when he was very little, but he didn't show much interest.  When I got it down from his bookshelf the other night to read before bed, he fell in love with it!  We have read it multiple times since then, and he pretended to be the last of the eight little ducklings, Quack, all day yesterday.  (I was Mrs. Mallard, of course.)  First published in 1941, Make Way for Ducklings was based on a real duck family that made its way through the streets of Boston, stopping traffic along the way.  Mr. and Mrs. Mallard are searching for the perfect place to raise their ducklings, and McCloskey's beautiful brown pencil illustrations capture both the time and place beautifully.  Among other things, my son loves looking at the old-fashioned cars, and I love seeing the many classic Boston landmarks featured in the story, as well:  Charles Street, the Swan Boats in the Public Garden, the Longfellow Bridge, the State House.  And of course we all love the charming family of ducklings:  Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack.   What child won't love saying all of those names?!   You needn't be from Boston to appreciate this book, though if you ever visit, stop by the bronze statues of the ducklings right inside the gates of the Garden.  The story is endearing, the illustrations are wonderful (it's a Caldecott winner), and it's no wonder it has been a favorite on bookshelves for 70 years.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Day 27: Olivia

Olivia is a pig who is good at a lot of things:  singing loudly, building sandcastles, drawing, imagining, and especially wearing people out.  In this playfully silly and delightful story, Ian Falconer creates a lovable character to whom children and parents can easily relate.   Olivia is  independent, charming, clever, witty, precocious, creative, and in many ways embodies all that is fun and wonderfully exhausting about having a child.  She would rather dance around her room than take a nap, or paint her own walls just like Jackson Pollock, and is naturally able to convince her mother to read her three books, not just one, before bed.   Of course, every parent's favorite part is bound to be when Olivia's mother finishes reading that last story and says, "'You know, you really wear me out.  But I love you anyway.'  And Olivia gives her a kiss back and says, 'I love you anyway, too.'"  Perfect, right?  I just love saying that to my son, who, like any good three year old boy, has boundless energy from the time he wakes up until the time he jumps (literally) onto his pillow each night.  And he'll smile that impish grin right back at me and say, "I love you anyway, too."  In his New Yorker style, Falconer's illustrations are also wonderful and eye-catching to the young reader.  Mostly black and white with the occasional splashes of red, his drawings do a fabulous job of portraying Olivia's spunk and spirit.   This is another one of those books that is on my "must own" list, but for now, we'll have to be content renewing it from the library again and again.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Day 26: Time For Bed

I had never heard of Mem Fox until my friend Julie recommended this book, and apparently I've been missing out!  We found Time for Bed at our library in a lap-sized board book edition, which is perfect for reading to my two little ones at once.  It's a soothing, adorable, lullabye-of-a-story that is perfect for reading just before turning out the lights.  On each beautifully illustrated page, a different animal is getting its own little one ready for bed:  "It's time for bed, little sheep, little sheep.  The whole wide world is going to sleep."  The soft watercolor illustrations do a wonderful job of depicting the love animal parents feel for their babies, and I also love how it features animals we don't necessarily think of as sleeping (like fish, snakes, and bees.)  My son loves reciting the book along with me, and the rhythmic, gentle verses can't help but make you feel a little sleepy.  (Of course, reading stories makes me sleepy at just about any time of day!)  Although my 8-month old daughter would rather chew on the pages when we read it together at the moment, I have no doubt she will soon love reading this lovely book, too.