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!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Day 193: If I Built A House

In honor of World Read Aloud Day this coming Wednesday, I thought I'd feature our current favorite book to read aloud: If I Built a House.  I can't even begin to tell you how excited we were to discover Chris Van Dusen's latest book on the shelf at the library the other day.  I didn't even know there was going to be a follow-up to the amazingly fabulous If I Built a Car, and I knew -- just KNEW! -- that it was going to be awesome.  And let me just tell you:  it is!  In every possible way!

If you've never read one of Chris Van Dusen's stories, you are seriously missing out!  Pack up the kids and head to your nearest library as soon as you finish reading this to try and track one down.  The Circus Ship, all of the Mr. Magee books (we've already featured Down to the Sea With Mr. Magee and A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee), If I Built a Car, and If I Built a House are some of the absolute BEST stories to read aloud, and I know they are books that my kids will remember fondly and want to read with their own children someday.  Van Dusen's illustrations are incredible -- I just love his bold, unique, retro style -- the story lines are clever, and oh, the rhymes! They are seamlessly crafted, brimming with creativity, and ridiculously fun to read.  If I do say so myself -- and I do -- Van Dusen belongs right alongside Seuss when it comes to brilliant rhyme design.  He's really one of the best there is.

One of my favorite things about If I Built a House (and If I Built a Car) is the way it encourages and captivates children's imaginations.  Now that he's designed his dream car, our favorite young inventor Jack is back, this time, to design the coolest, most amazing house on the block!  I wish I had been able to take pictures of my son's expressions when we read this book for the first time, for each time we turned the page, he beamed with amazement and excitement about what he was seeing. A gravity-free flying room, racetrack room, giant aquarium/water-filled room, living room with trampolines in the floor that lead to a giant ball pit, a bedroom in a tower that's accessible by elevator and giant twisty slide... this house has it all!  My favorite might just be the art room:  "You know how I constantly like to create?  Well, this is my art room.  Isn't it great?  You draw on the wall.  Don't worry, it's cool.  Hung way up high, on a big giant spool, is a huge roll of paper that hangs to the floor.  Just draw till you're done, then pull down some more!"  How incredible would that be?! The self-cooking, dish-cleaning kitchen is pretty amazing, too.  Whenever we read the lines that say, "It makes all the meals and the food is deeelish, Then it washes and puts away every last dish," my son looks at me and says, "That would be your favorite part!"  (Guess it's no secret how much I loathe doing the dishes.)

Be sure to check out the sketches on the inner covers of the book, too.  They show Jack's design from a slightly different point of view, complete with all of the fabulous features and notes on what he wants his house to be like.  This story can't help but spark young (and old!) imaginations, and we always love talking about which cool features and rooms we'd have in our dream house.  I can't wait to read this to my son's preschool class this coming Friday when it's my turn to be the surprise parent "mystery reader."  It's Lego week at his school this week, too, so I can't wait to see what cool creations he and his friends can dream up after reading this story!

Usually, when we discover a book that we really love, I add it to my Amazon wish list or keep a note of it to suggest to family as a gift idea when my kids' birthdays roll around.  Sometimes, though, as is the case with this story, I simply can't wait for a special occasion.  I grab my gift cards and put that book in my Barnes and Noble shopping cart faster than my kids race around the house after dinner.  I'm sure you're well aware of how much I love this book by now, but believe me:  it's one you simply cannot miss.


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