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!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Story Time Snuggle Pack

Books make some of my favorite baby gifts, both to give and receive.  I wrote once before about why books make the best gifts, and there are a few favorite titles I always seek out when it a new baby is on the way.  I find myself always coming back to these books either because they were favorites of my own children or because they have a certain sentimental value that any mother will love.  Recently, I decided to take my book giving idea a step further and create a "Story Time Snuggle Pack."  One of my dearest friends is expecting her first child in just a few weeks (yay!!), so I wanted to put something together for her little one that was extra special.  Snuggling up and reading stories is one of my favorite things to do with my children, so I figured a book-themed snuggle pack was the perfect thing for a new mom and her little bundle of joy.  I went to Michael's and got one of those cute, sturdy bins (of which I can never seem to have enough). then filled it with some of our favorite books, a cuddly Carter's blanket, and a cozy fleece sleep sack.  I wrapped it all up in a cellophane bag, and voila!  A story time snuggle pack.  B, I hope you and your little one have as much fun with this as I did making it!  

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Day 162: Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes

My friend Julie recently introduced me to this book at a baby shower for one of our dear friends who is expecting her first child in just a few weeks.  I love baby showers, especially when they are for my closest friends, and also love the trend of having everyone bring a book to add to the new baby's library.  It's also a great way for me to get ideas about new books I should check out.  Julie raved about this one, and since I love some of Mem Fox's other books, I was happy to find it at our local library when we went earlier this week.  Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes is a perfect baby gift, and I can't believe I've never read it before now!  Maybe it's the fact that my own little baby just turned two, but I almost get a little choked up reading it at the end.  Helen Oxenbury's illustrations are a perfect accompaniment to Mem Fox's sweet, charming text, and I don't know how anyone can get through this book without smiling and feeling all warm and happy inside.  "There was one little baby who was born far away.  And another who was born on the very next day.  And both of these babies, as everyone knows, had ten little fingers and ten little toes."  The story goes on to feature other babies born under different circumstances and in different places, always coming back to its gentle chorus about their ten little fingers and ten little toes.  The story is short with a lovely combination of rhyme and repetition, making it a wonderful read aloud for babies and toddlers.  Most of all, I love the message that all children are alike, no matter how different their lives or appearances might seem.  If you're looking for a great book to give to a new parent or baby, or even just to add to your own collection, we highly recommend this adorable story.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Day 161: The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?

If you have been following this blog for a while, you know how much we love Mo Willems in our house.  In fact, I've already featured five of his titles on here already.  I told myself that writing about The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? might be a bit excessive, especially since I've already written about two of the other Pigeon books, but I simply can't hold out any longer.  This book is just that fun.  We had the amazing privilege of seeing Mo Willems read this book aloud at his local book shop in Northampton, Massachusetts a few months back, and let me tell you, it was awesome!  I don't know what I enjoyed watching more:  Mo's animated reading, or the look on my son's face while he watched and listened.  His smiles and laughter throughout the reading were well worth the trip!  We even got to meet Mo afterward (as well as chat with him briefly coming up the stairs on our way in), and got our book signed.  We all had so much fun!  Here's my little guy and Mo (pretending to be a lobster):
But back to the book... The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? is another classic Willems tale, loaded with silly Pigeon antics and clever humor that is fun for kids and adults, alike.  It is a fabulous read-aloud that lends itself perfectly to different character voices and plenty of expression, volume, and animation.  In fact, if I'm not reading it loudly and excitedly enough, my son will remind me, "Read it like Mo does!"  (He set the bar quite high, as you can imagine.)  We've probably read this story 100 times by now, and both of my kids still laugh out loud every time we read it.  I love the way they have different lines that they each like to say when we read it together, too.  I don't want to say too much about what happens in the story for fear of giving away the best parts, but just imagine how the Pigeon might react upon seeing that the little Duckling has gotten a cookie simply by asking (albeit "politely!")  We hope you have as much fun with this book as we do!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Day 160: The Animal Atlas

The last time we were at the library, my son came running over to me with this book in his hands, beaming, "Is this the perfect book for me or what?!"  He has been obsessed with it ever since, reading parts of it every day and bringing it with us wherever we go.  When we went on vacation recently, we took it with us, knowing that we would accrue overdue fees as a result.  But we didn't care.  We knew that it would keep him entertained for hours and would be a perfect book for reading in the car on our road trip.  In fact, once we got home, we found a used copy on ebay and ordered it for him.  For $4.99 and free shipping, we couldn't resist.  I can't wait to see his face when it arrives in the mail and he finds out he'll have a copy of his very own!  He loves it that much and it is just that awesome.

The Animal Atlas is a stunning guide to hundreds of the world's species.  Sorted by continent and region on oversized, double-page spreads, it offers a wealth of information about the unique and magnificent animals that call those areas home.  The South America chapter, for example, has sections dedicated to the Galapagos, Andes, Amazon Rainforest, and Pampas.  Additional pages at the front and back of the book include information about how to use the atlas, animal groups (fish, reptiles, mammals, invertebrates, etc.), types of habitats (tundra, grasslands, woodlands, etc.), endangered animals, and "Amazing Animals."  Each page features dozens of native animals and descriptive paragraphs for each one, along with photographs of the landscape and gorgeous color drawings of the wildlife.  Kenneth Lilly's illustrations are beyond incredible.  Honestly, it's easy to forget that they are actually drawings and not photographs.  I can only imagine how long it must have taken him to illustrate all of the creatures in this amazing book!  I love that each regional spread contains a map, too, showing just where one can find the featured animals.  We have all learned so much from this book, and my husband and I get such a kick out of hearing my son talk about (and pretend to be) so many of these different creatures.  In the past week alone, he has pretended to be a hog-nosed bat, African jacana, jerboa, bee hummingbird, and marine iguana, among countless others.  Just this afternoon, upon seeing some of the characters from the newest Ice Age movie on a bag of Pirate's Booty, he said, "I think that one there must be a colugo."  I looked at a critter who vaguely resembled a flying squirrel, and asked him what a colugo was (since I had no idea.)  "You know," he replied, shocked at my ignorance.  "It lives in Southeast Asia and India."  Later, when we had the book nearby, he flipped to the Southeastern Asia and India page and said, "See?  There's the colugo."  And he was right.  It's a flying lemur that looks just like that Ice Age critter.  Supposedly this book is for grades 4 and up, but I see no reason why it isn't perfect for animal lovers who are much younger.  After all, my little guy is 4 and he is simply fascinated by it.  I'm sure there are countless other animal atlases that are more recent (this one was published in 1992), but the information and illustrations in this version are simply amazing.  If your chid loves animals and you can find a copy of this book, you will be in for a real treat.