Reading together is one part of our daily life that we don’t screw around with.
It puts our kid to sleep, it puts us to sleep, it connects us to drawings on a page, which translates to empathy/connecting us to humans we don’t know. Most of the books we’ve come across aren’t well-written, published for a quick-fix of Peppa Pig or a rehashing of a poorly structured kids show. I call these “crap books.” Our kid calls these “crap books.” We acknowledge that they foster a sense of feeling good real quick by showing us familiar characters and plots we already know. “Crap food” fosters a sense of feeling good real quick by spiking our blood sugar and making us feel warm. “Crap TV” lets our brains do minimal work for maximum feeling of oozy puddle body. It’s important to occasionally indulge in all of these things, if no other reason than to not make our kid feel like she needs to rebel and grow up to indulge all the time to spite us.
When we go to the library, Iris gets to come home with one crap book. All other books are mom-approved. We go to the library to restock every couple of weeks, and we have an agreement to read any book that is enjoyed as many times as she likes. We have had a solid six months of this, and there are few books that make it on the “repeat” list. Since summer, we’ve read a couple hundred picture books. Surprisingly, no crap books have made it on this list. We read two books/day from May-August, and currently, we have been working through long, science-y non-fiction books about bats and bee populations dwindling.
Quick note: We read books that feature a single character with the pronouns “they/them.” I could dissect my reasoning, but maybe I’ll leave my griping to another post another day or find someone else who has already articulated this specific gendered problem with children’s lit because today I feel good and these books make our family and our kid feel good. Main goal here is to not associate “genders” with “interests” and most kids books are written with our society’s gender “rules” right up front.
Behold, our favorite kids lit since 2014!
Waiting for High Tide by Nikki McClure. The kid finds a barnacle and puts it in their eye while exploring a beach. Ages: 3-8 Years
Ooko by Esme Shapiro. A fox wants to be loved by humans—or at least they think they do until they get a chance to play with one. Ages: 3-7 Years.
This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen. Tiny fish takes a bigger fish’s hat and is pursued. Ages: 2-8
We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen. Two turtles find a hat in a desert and don’t know what to do. Ages 2-8.
Say Zoop! by Herve Tullet. His entire collection of books are created for kids to interact with, some have no words at all. They were our kid’s very first books, and we have worked through his whole collection. This particular book was a perfect transition book into teaching reading. It introduces the idea of shapes and symbols representing sounds. Iris started learning to read at three, and I think it was because of the way Tullet is able to help kids make that connection. Ages NB-5.
I Don’t Like Koala by Sean Ferrell. A kid tries to do away with a weird stuffed animal. Ages 2-8.
Robo-Sauce by Adam Rubin. Kid finds out how to turn everyone into robots. Ages 3-8.
Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel. If your kid doesn’t come from a queer family, this is a good way to start the conversation about people of all genders being together. This convo should start around age 3, with simple words phrases like, “People of all kinds are friends and love eachother. Not just ___ ____ like ____ ____.” Ages 2-8.
The Dead Bird by Margaret Wise Brown. Kids work together to figure out what to do with the little critter. Ages 4-8.
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson. Based on real-life penguin dads who finally get to take care of an egg. Ages 2-8.
Ballad by Blexbolex. A story in pictures, with words sometimes, sometimes not. Ages 3-Adult.
The Little Lost Bat by Sandra Markle. A bat loses their mother, a mother loses their bat. Bat adoption, weeping, breastfeeding—human parenthood fears in a story about bat adoption, which happens in bat populations all the time. Ages 4-9.
What are yours/your kids’ favorite books/favorite kid books? WE LOVE BOOKS AND LOVE RECOMMENDATIONS. Do share. :)