Your time investment spent reading to your children will have enormous returns.  Choose high quality literature and bedtime can become a magical, relationship building adventure.  Don't stop reading to your children once they start school and can read themselves, just change which books you are reading.  Great chapter books read aloud are captivating and you can always read aloud books at a higher level than they can read themselves.  Here are some of our favorite books.

Where Did My Sweet Grandma Go?: A Preschooler's Guide to Losing a Loved One

Death of a grandparent is hard for young children to understand. This is an excellent picture book to address this topic. There is also a companion book called Where Did Sweet Grandpa Go?

The Quarreling Book

Everyone can relate to this wonderful book!  It is a lesson about how infectious a bad mood is. But more importantly, how a kind act or positive response can have a rippling POSITIVE effect!  

Thank you, Mr. Falker

"Patricia Polacco is now one of America's most loved children's book creators, but once upon a time, she was a little girl named Trisha starting school. Trisha could paint and draw beautifully, but when she looked at words on a page, all she could see was jumble. It took a very special teacher to recognize little Trisha's dyslexia: Mr. Falker, who encouraged her to overcome her reading disability. Patricia Polacco will never forget him, and neither will we." (from book description)

The Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Polacco

This is an incredible, tear-jerking, true story about the author Patricia Polacco's 5th grade year.  After being labeled and teased for not being able to read due to dyslexia, she went to live with her father and go to a new school.  In her new school she was put in a classroom of misfits called the Junkyard.  However, it was in this classroom with her wonderful teacher, that she learns the true meaning of genius and how special and brilliant each of her classmates are. This is the sequel to her book, Thank You, Mr. Falker.  

The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater

We love this book! Mr. Plumbean teaches his neighbors to embrace individuality and follow your dreams. 

Andrew Henry's Meadow

Andrew Henry's Meadow has been one of our family's favorite books and was one of my childhood favorites as well.  Andrew Henry was a middle child who loved to build things.  His family didn't appreciate his creations, so Andrew Henry built himself a house in a meadow.  One by one, other children arrived asking Andrew Henry to build them a special house based on their interests.   My children loved to see what Andrew Henry built and talked about the kind of house THEY would build.  In the end, all the families find the missing children and Andrew Henry's family started to embrace his gifts and talents.  Disclosure:  This was first published in 1965 so does have gender stereotypes from that era.  Andrew Henry also makes a pipe filler for his father as was common then.  However, I hope you can see past those issues and create conversation about your child's dreams and passions.

Tops & Bottoms by Janet Stevens

Hilarious book about how the hardworking rabbit family is able to trick the lazy bear so they can plant and harvest on the bear's land. 

If You're a Bear by Janice May Udry

The boy tells various animals that they are not supposed to do something, but the animal replies that it is okay for them because they are a ______. However the last part of the book is reversed. The animals remark about all the things they can't do like he can. Written 50 years ago, but you can find used copies. 

Capyboppy by Bill Peet

Our family has enjoyed many of Bill Peet's children's books, but this one is my favorite. It is based on a true story when his son got a capybara, which is the largest rodent species, for a pet! Hilarious story and illustrations! Bill Peet was a former Disney illustrator.

An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco

Patricia Polacco wrote many books based on her story or her extended family's stories. This is based on the story of her great-uncle during the depression. It is a lovely story of giving to those in need.

Hey! Get Off Our Train by John Burningham

This book addresses things people are doing which threaten various animal species through a dream-like story about a boy riding a train through the night. My kids loved yelling, "Hey, get off our train!" each time it comes up in the book.

Gregory The Noisiest and Strongest Boy in Grangers Grove by Robert Bright

Gregory likes to show how strong he is, but doesn't stop to listen which results in numerous missteps. This was one of my favorite childhood books and it has been loved by my children as well. It is out of print, but easy to find on the used book market.

Miss Twiggley's Tree by Dorothea Warren Fox

Originally published in 1966 and available once again. Miss Twiggley lives in a tree with bears which leads to gossip from the Mayor's wife. However, a flooding disaster brings the community together.

The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt

This is a folktale, but a beautiful story nonetheless. It is told from the perspective of 3 trees, how each was intertwined with the life of Jesus.

The Very First Easter by Paul Maier

This is a detailed Easter story written as a conversation between a father and son. This is longer, so I would say it is better for about 2nd grade and up but it certainly depends upon the attention span of the child.

What the Good Man Does is Always Right by Hans Christian Andersen

Out of print, so you have to find used copies. The illustrations are not that engaging, but the story is comedic. The husband sets out on a journey to sell their horse to buy something more useful. He goes through a series of exchanges, each exchange coming out on the lesser end of the deal while remaining positive and content with each exchange. The ending is a funny twist when he brings home his final trade, a bag of rotten apples. 

Mr. Gumpy's Outing by John Burningham

Fun book for younger children. One by one animals ask if they can join Mr. Gumpy for a boat ride. He agrees, but gives them a warning to behave. All goes along well until the goat kicked... What I love about this story is how the natural consequence of getting wet happens when the boat tips, but Mr. Gumpy doesn't harp on them; instead he mentions it is time for tea. Note that it is Mr. Gumpy, not Mr. Grumpy) Over the years I have purchased many discarded library books. Many libraries sell books they no longer want in the library very inexpensively.

Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle

What makes this book special is that it highlights sea creatures whose fathers care for the eggs after they are laid. Colorful illustrations true to Eric Carle's style. 

I'd Choose You by John Trent

This cute picture book shows the mother giving her child the 5 elements of the blessing. Here is the books description. "

Everyone knows what it’s like to have a bad day. And when Norbert comes home from school, he has had a really bad day. As he and his mother talk through the day's mishaps, she gently imparts The Blessing on him through spoken word, meaningful touch, attachment of high value, portraying a special future, and genuine commitment.

By the end of the book, Norbert knows he is loved, and that even if he wasn’t the first pick for the team, he will always be chosen by his parents . . . and by God."

The Treasure Tree: Helping kids understand their personality by Smalley and Trent

All my kids have loved this longer picture book with each of the four personalities represented by an animal, an otter, a beaver, a lion and a golden retriever.  It helps us understand and appreciate the unique characteristics of each personality.  

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