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, October 3, 2015

Day 245: The Bear Ate Your Sandwich

By now I think you know what happened to your sandwich.
But you may not know how it happened. 
So let me tell you.
It all started with the bear... 

Hooray for random books picked off the shelf at the library that turn out to be awesome! I love it when this happens! We are not familiar with this author, but are thrilled to complement her on such a fun, clever story! We brought this book home from the library a few weeks back and it quickly became bedtime favorite. My kids love the story of this hungry bear who wakes up in the city after a post-berry-binging nap in the back of a pickup truck.

This new forest is obviously unlike anything he has seen before, but it still has good trees for scratching (telephone poles), interesting smells (trash cans), and plenty of places to explore. The bear makes his way to the park, and that is where he sees it: the sandwich! 

The ending of this story is so cute, and my kids were delighted to discover the identity of the narrator. My son picked up on it right away, but it took my daughter a minute or two to figure out what really happened. Her reaction when she did was priceless (and resulted in a giggling request to read it again!)  I do not want to give anything away, but this clever, convincing storytelling is bound to make you smile. The cute illustrations add so much to the story, so be sure not to turn the pages too quickly! 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Celebrate World Teachers' Day on October 5th!

We LOVE our teachers! Please consider writing a note of thanks to a teacher you appreciate in honor of World Teachers Day this October 5th. Even a short note can make a teacher's day! 

Thanks to Grammarly for the infographic below.

World Teacher Day

Day 244: Tippy, Tippy, Tippy Splash!

Sadly, summer has come and gone, but that has not stopped us from enjoying this cute story and reliving our fun days at the beach! Mr. McGreely and his mischievous bunnies are back in this fun, silly tale that little readers are sure to enjoy. Just as in Muncha, Muncha, Muncha!

Mr. McGreely had bunny problems.

He had bunnies in his garden.
Bunnies in his shed.
Bunnies in his cupboard.
Bunnies in his…BED!

He decides to escape from those pesky pufftails by spending a fun, relaxing day at the beach, but little does he know that the bunnies are going to come along, too! Mr. McGreely is determined to have fun collecting shells, flying his kite, surfing, and building sandcastles, and he tries his best... but not only do the bunnies do everything he does, they do it better! Just when Mr. McGreely thinks his day is ruined, the bunnies save the day, and the sweet ending is sure to bring a smile to your child's face. My daughter, 5, gets such a kick out of this story and especially loves the beach bunny in the sunglasses.  We hope you enjoy these silly stories as much as we do!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Day 243: The Day the Crayons Came Home

Oh my goodness gracious, Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers have done it again! I hope by now that you are familiar with the pure awesome that is The Day the Crayons Quit.  It is brilliant, I tell you. Brilliant! The follow-up story of The Day the Crayons Came Home is equally fabulous. So great, in fact, that I had to go out and buy it even though there was no particular occasion for doing so (unless, of course, you count simply NEEDING to own this book. You fellow book lovers know what I mean.)  

This time, Duncans crayons are sending him postcards from the places he has left them behind: the couch cushion, the basement, the hotel pool from summer vacation. Pea Green crayon declares he is sick of being a color no one loves and is off to see the world under his new and improved name, Estaban the Magnificent! Neon Red crayon is sick of waiting for Duncan to come back and get him and decides to walk home, sending hilarious updates along the way. This story is so much fun!  I challenge anyone to read this book and not laugh out loud. It is best enjoyed read aloud in your silliest, most expressive voice. Caution: might cause fits of giggles at bedtime.  

Now go! Read this book! And share a laugh or two with your favorite little one. Or just go read it to yourself. I certainly will not judge.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Day 242: Found

Salina Yoon is another recent favorite of ours, thanks to her sweet, charming stories and simple yet wonderfully expressive illustrations. We first discovered her work when we read Penguin on Vacation, and have loved the Penguin series ever since.  Found is another of my daughter's new library favorites, and has been on heavy rotation at bedtime for the past few weeks.

In Found, Bear comes across a toy bunny in the forest. Right away, he thinks it is the most special thing he has ever seen, but he knows that a toy this special must belong to someone else. He sets out to help the bunny find its owner, posting flyers on every tree in the forest.

Try as he might, Bear cannot find the owner. All the while, of course, Bear is loving the bunny more and more and wishing it could be his forever. He takes care of it, plays with it, and even makes the bunny a comfy bed next to his. One day, as Bear and the bunny are out riding on Bear's bike, bunny's owner appears. In his heart, Bear knows what he must do. He tearfully returns the bunny and sets off on his way. In a sweet, touching ending, however, Bear and his beloved bunny are reunited and able to return home together, safe and found! (Warning: if the ending of Toy Story 3 made you tear up, this book might, too.) 

I love so many things about this adorable book: the touching story line, Yoon's fabulous illustrations, and the message about the importance of doing the right thing even when it is hard. I especially love the collection of "Lost" posters on the inside covers -- they are clever and fabulous and not to be missed! Most importantly, though, this is a sweet story about love, kindness, and the bonds of friendship. What's not to love about that?

Day 241: Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for Bed?

Navigating the library can sometimes feel overwhelming. I have written before about how we make the most of our library visits, but referring to my list of favorite authors is always one of my most helpful and reliable strategies. As fabulous as they are, let's face it: library visits with young children aren't always conducive to leisurely book browsing! Having a list of go-to authors, then, gives me a place to start (or fall back on) while keeping an eye on kids and looking for great new reads. After recently falling in love with Beautiful Oops, we decided to check out a few other Barney Saltzburg stories at our last library visit. Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for Bed? is my daughter's latest favorite.

If your house is like mine, the half an hour before bedtime can be one of the most hectic and trying times of the entire day. If you can relate (and I'm sure you can), you will certainly get a kick out of this charming little story. Mama Pig is trying to get young Cornelius ready for bed, asking him all of the usual questions:  Have you put your toys away? Have you used the bathroom? Have you brushed your teeth? Have you put on your pajamas? Each time, Cornelius gives a resounding YES!, though his actual antics suggest something different. My daughter loves to read the part of Cornelius, and is always delighted by the illustrations. (We especially enjoy Cornelius' pajamas, complete with a snorkel mask, bat wings, and dragon inner tube! Be sure to check out the clever titles that make up his bedtime story selections, too.) Of course, at the end, he really is ready for bed... but not before he gets a great, big goodnight hug. 

The bright illustrations and large text make the story engaging for little readers, and the relatively short length of the story itself makes it a great book for toddlers or young ones who prefer stories that are paced to keep up with their frequent page turning. (It makes for a great "just one more story?" read, too.) If your child loves this book as much as mine does, you might just find this sweet, silly bedtime tale in your nightly reading pile. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Day 240: Beautiful Oops!

Beautiful Oops! has been on my library list for probably a good two years now, as it has been incredibly hard to find for some reason.  Either it is always out (and reasonably so), or not every library has it in its collection (which, now that I have read and LOVED it, I can say would be a travesty.) My kids and I absolutely love the creative message of Peter H. Reynolds' Ish and The Dot, and Beautiful Oops! delivers an equally inspiring message about creativity, perseverance, and finding beauty in unlikely places.

Both of my children love creating art, though it wasn't always that way. My son, who is very much a self-imposed perfectionist, resisted drawing for the longest time. I think this was mostly because he had an image in his mind of what he wanted his drawing to look like, but knew that he would be unable to make it look that way. Although we would encourage him to draw anyway and not worry about making mistakes or being perfect, he would scribble a few lines on the page and then say he was done. Eventually, though, he turned the corner and became less concerned about making mistakes. He started creating more and becoming frustrated less, and now I can say that drawing is one of his favorite things to do. Of course, he is still a perfectionist about all kinds of other things, so we are still working on that whole embracing mistakes thing...

But therein lies the beauty of Barney Saltzberg's Beautiful Oops! Its encouraging message to see mistakes as opportunities makes it a perfect book for any little one (or anyone, for that matter.) A torn page? No problem! It can easily become an alligator's mouth. A spill or a smudge? A fold or a crumple? No worries! Turn it into something fun, silly, or beautiful! I absolutely love the way this book encourages us to think positively and creatively while appreciating the fact that things need not be perfect to be beautiful.

So, if you can manage to get your hands on a copy of this fabulous book, please do! We promise you won't be disappointed. Happy reading (and creating!)


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Day 239: All By Myself

Recently, we have been revisiting some of our favorite classics. My daughter, now four and a half, is old enough to enjoy most of the books my son (7) loves to read. While this has always been true to an extent, there have been times where the level of books my kids wanted to read varied such that it was difficult for me to read them the same book at the same time. Once my daughter had the attention span to read longer stories, however, this got easier. As a result, though, I found that I had inadvertently neglected to read her some of the stories that were my son's favorites at that age. It wasn't that he didn't like those stories anymore, but rather, they often were overlooked in favor of other stories. (The fact that those thin little paperbacks are so easily lost on the shelf or in the bottom of the book bin doesn't help, either.) Fortunately, my daughter recently found our collection of Mercer Mayer's Little Critter stories, and she has been hooked ever since.

I wrote about my favorite, Just Go To Bed, way back on Day 32. I can say with 100% certainty that anyone who has ever tried to rein an energetic little one into bed will both adore and relate to this story (perhaps all too well!) As you can probably guess by the picture above, All By Myself rings equally true to parents and children, alike. Little Critter can do so many things by himself: get dressed, brush his fur, tie his shoes, color a picture. And of course, there are some things he says he can do which could really use a little more practice. There is one thing, though, that he can't do on his own -- and that is go to sleep without a story. Sweet and fun, this is one of my daughter's new favorites, and I was surprised to realize that I had not yet featured it here on this blog. If you have a preschooler and have not yet discovered these gems, we highly recommend them! 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Day 238: The Going to Bed Book

My daughter and I have been revisiting a lot of our old bedtime favorites these past few weeks, and I have realized that some of these gems have not yet been featured here on the blog. How I managed to overlook these, I don't know, but they certainly deserve a spot on our list of best books!

The Going to Bed Book is one of the first books we ever had in our children's library collection. It was a gift from one of my husband's high school students when we were expecting our son way back in 2007. Sandra Boynton books are well-known classics in the kids' lit world, and rightfully so. Those little board books are fun to read with their lively rhymes, colorful, short (perfect for the attention spans of the littlest readers), sturdy, and, if our copies are to be believed, great for chewing. While my kids have loved many of her books and several have been featured on here already, this is one of our favorites. My kids love seeing the classic Boynton animals get ready for bed, and my four year old daughter has decided that this is the book she likes to read to ME at bedtime.  I love it.

I loved these books when my children were babies, and they did, too. At the time, though, I underestimated these stories, thinking that they would be some of the first books my children would outgrow because were so short and simple. I have been so delighted to find that they continue to be favorites, but wonderful literacy resources, as well! These were some of the first books that my son read aloud on his own (he loved reading to his baby sister), and they are the first books with which my daughter has shown some of those important early literacy skills (such as pointing out words across the page from left to right as she "reads.") If you have fallen in love with these books when your little ones are babies, hang on to them. You just might find that they become your child's favorite bedtime stories to read to you one day.