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What are your must have *real* books for your younger kiddos?


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Caps For Sale, Where the Wild Things Are, Blueberries For Sal, Jessie Bear, What Will You Wear, Goodnight Moon, Dr. Seuss, The Tale of Peter Rabbit and The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, and Corduroy.


Even though some might think he's a little old, any Sandra Boynton book is a hit with both my nearly 4 year old and my 1 year old. He memorizes them and reads them to us or his little sister. They are also quick and silly and great to pull out when a bad mood/attitude on anyone's part is about to strike. They break tension/


We have a lot of success with the Mo Willems Pigeon and Elephant & Piggy series. He memorizes them, carries them around, acts them out, tells his sister the story. He also likes interactive books, like Press Here by Herve Tullet, which is a read aloud and a play along. Jan Thomas' books like, Can You Make A Scary Face or Are You Ready For Some Fun are good ones to have on hand. They are funny to a pre schooler, gives simple directions to follow, and my kid has a blast with them. Plus they help get some wiggles out, so the next book can be a bit more...more.


For nursery rhymes, our family favorite is done in comic book format and the art is done by multiple comic book artists-each one illustrated a different rhyme. For my purposes of introducing nursery rhymes, getting him to love them and memorize them, this worked out perfectly. He slept with it for months!


For folk/fairy tales, I've had the best luck re telling them myself using minor acting(faces, jumping when scared) and voices. This and the nursery rhyme book have been our biggest hits.


I rely heavily on our library, but here are some others that we continually check out and are asked for multiple times a day.


The Caboose That Got Loose by Bill Peet (I love anything by him, but this one appealed to my little guy more than anything else. These run the gamut in age level, but I don't mind reading something with or to a little kid who obviously loves it. I also do not follow Charlotte Mason's suggestions to limit picture books for young children at all. :) Some of these may not be great literature, but they are read alouds that have been loved.


Harold and the Purple Crayon

Most on anything by Karma Wilson

Monkey With a Toolbelt series or Sneaky Sheep by Chris Monroe

Peter and the Seal by Rick de Haas

Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis

The Knight and the Dragon by Tomie de Paola

Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathbone

The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree....I don't love the series, though my son does, but this book by itself is a lot of fun.


He likes books that are silly, fun, and have illustrations that appeal to him(not necessarily great art). The Book of Sleep was not my favorite to read aloud umpteen million times, but he loves the pictures so much that I went with it and he did begin to grasp night and day better, so I guess it worked out.

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Richard Scarry books

Virginia Lee Burton books



Curious George

Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm/A Year at Maple Hill Farm

Charlotte's Web

D'Aulaires Greek Myths


My son adored Harry Potter in kindergarten, but I don't think those books are appropriate for all kids that age.

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I read lots of picture books. I enjoyed many of the books previously mentioned. I tired to read all the picture books I could find recommended on all the lists.


One thing I really liked were series books. I liked to read them all. I remember more then once we would get ALL the books out by an author and read them all one after another. I had three shelves that let me display them all facing out. I would line them up and make it look neat and wonderful. I remember having to neaten and rearrange my shelves because quests were coming over. That had to be done or else what would people think of us. (I could ignore the laundry, the unwashed floors... but not messy shelves not organized in any way)


My list in my old favorites had the following listed. I know some of these are just authors and not series. But here goes anyways:



Kim Lewis

Thomas the Train

Franklin the Turtle

Elliot the Moose

Dora the Explorer

Go, Diego, Go!

Little House Books. (I loved these picture books)

Hairy Maclary (Scarface claw a family favorite we still quote)

Little Critter

Little Tim (Our current library sadly only has two of them)

Mercy Watson

Jillian Jiggs

Bill Peet (A Personal favorite of mine)

Harry and the dinosaurs (I didn't like, but kids were into dinos and the time)

Virginia Lee Burton

Don Freeman

Robert McCloskey

Fancy Nancy




Bad Dog Marley

Mirette (I really liked these)

Duck in a Truck

I'm Bad / Dirty / Stinky...

Olivia the Pig

Harry the Dirty Dog

Gail Gibbions

Magic School Bus

Percy the Park Keeper (I bumped my head, ... But are you okay?)

Jan Brett

Eric Carle

Elizabeth Mann (The Mongals are invading)

Frank Bradley

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If you can get your hands on the full collection of all of Rev. Awdry's Thomas the Tank Engine stories, I highly recommend it. It's out of print, but our library has it. This is one I wish I owned and could pass down to grandchildren someday.


Other big hits here this year (pre-k and a 3yo tagalong):


All of Robert McCloskey's books

Brer Rabbit

Curious George

Caps for Sale

The Big Green Pocketbook (didn't think my boys would love it, but it was a favorite!)

I Stink!

Baby Brains (my personal favorite so far)

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We read lots of picture books, but the first "real book" to capture his attention has been Winnie the Pooh (we have this edition). We've also tried Wind in the Willows (which he finds very interesting, but can't quite stick with - he needs a lot of recapping, so I'm holding off for later) and Little House in the Big Woods (no interest) and Mr. Popper's Penguins (no interest).


Pooh is a huge hit. He's been requesting it almost every night for a month. I think the language must be perfect for a 3yo? It's whimisical, but straight-forward, and the conflicts are things a very small child can understand - or at least that's my theory!

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