The kids and I were at the library the other day. I searched for books while they played. I would come across books we loved and knew well - or new books we had yet to read but loved the author - and get Stella's attention: "Peanut, remember this book?" or "Hey, look, here's a new book by our favorite author!" It was clear to me then that we spent A LOT of time at the library and A LOT of time reading books. We typically go to our library once a week in the winter and once every 2 or 3 in the summer. We take out a foolish number of books at a time; usually between 15-20 (and I always forget one behind when we come back to return them - no matter how well I think I've searched).
I love kids books. I still have a dream of writing and illustrating one. The illustrations are probably my favorite part and I look closely at each page determining what medium the artist used. I note these things to Stella as we read. "She used watercolor, see? You can tell right here." I have memories of visiting my great aunt in Kennebunk, Maine during the summers as a child. She was a school teacher and we'd spend our time searching for seashells at the beach and reading the books she had curated for me before I arrived. A canvas bag of books she had picked... for me. It felt magical then and, even now, I think back with real fondness.
As I searched for books with the kids it became more apparent to me what a large part books play in our life - and for me - how excited I am that upon becoming a mother I get to revisit this thing I loved so much. It's a perk of being a Mom to go back to the things you loved in childhood.
Woohoo! Disney movies! Yessss. Children's books. Yahoo! Watercolor paints and crafts.
It was hard to find a section of the library that we hadn't already read (and reread) a book from. We have a lot of favorite books, and even more favorite authors. We like the illustrations, and rhythmic timing, whether it be rhyming or simple alliteration. So, I dubbed myself that day somewhat of a maven... a connoisseur of kid's books... and then quickly removed my crown as I realized there are too many amazing books out there to ever possibly be all-knowing. We all have our favorites; new and old. And there are new amazing books being written every day. However, I did decide in that moment that I would share our absolute favorites here, in hopes that maybe
you you and your kids can find laughter and magic and coziness in them like we have. I even linked over to Amazon so you know what the book looks like and can easily spot it at your local library (or order and buy to have at home).
Our favorite authors (so far) and the books we love:
- Dan Santat - He's both an author and illustrator. If you see a book he has illustrated - grab it. His pictures are magical. As a writer, his stories are so original and insightful that even a grown-up will smile with new wisdom.
- Audrey and Don Wood - First, I think it's adorable if a couple own a business or pursue a professional passion together (i.e. Chip and Joanna - no last name necessary). Second, these two have the kind of silly pictures and rhyming words that make reading their books fun and easy. I'm not AS big of a fan of The Napping House as I am of King Bidgood - which is a hysterical story with insane pictures that you truly need to examine to fully take in. It must have taken so long to create each page; so many intricate details that are hilarious. We actually found the book in the library basement sale and snagged it for 25 cents! We haven't read Piggies yet but I found it in the library the other day and NEED to read it.
- Peter Reynolds - If you see a book by this genius, just get it. Every book is so uniquely creative. I personally love his stories and pictures because they pack big ideas into small spaces. It's no wonder that every book on Amazon has 5 stars. Stella and I have read almost all of his books, except - it looks like - maybe three. Here's a big list, because there's so many to love:
- Lynn Plourde - We found her when I was grabbing books for the season. Sometimes I try and find a relevant theme for us when I pick books - books about spring, or bears, or being brave. Lynn has a series of books that personify the seasons which is SO COOL and useful for both teaching your child the seasons, but also for keep their young soul's alive with imagination and magic. For us, we talk as if everything is alive; the goddess in the moon reminds us that we girls are strong and pure magic, and (as Stella will tell you) "Man, I hate trash! Mother Earth does NOT like littering." So, for our family, it makes total sense that the seasons are truly children of Mother Earth and Father Time. She's a Mainer! I love her even more now. I also JUST found a book she wrote about Maine, (described as a "love letter to Maine") which now I must find and read.
- Jon Klassen - This guy. I picture him to be very cool. Like, way cooler than me. His pictures are minimalist and modern. His stories are hysterical. How he can be so funny with so few words is baffling and makes him even more cool to me. Now that I'm searching these links for you gals, I'm finding more books by him we haven't read. Here's the ones we have and love. Again, if you see a book written or illustrated by him. Grab it. I guarantee it won't disappoint.
- David Catrow - We stumbled upon the Seuss-ical pictures of this guy with a book we scored again - either at the library basement sale or a yard sale. Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon was our first DC book and now if I see he is the illustrator I grab the books no matter what. Plus, that book is great to teach kids that they should be kind and be themselves... no matter what. These books all have different authors but you can find them via Catrow in a search.
- Karma Wilson - We found one of her books via a kid's meal at Chick-fil-a and I LOVE that Chick-fil-a almost never gives you junk toys. It's not often that we go, but I wish they gave books every time. We've only read this one book but I love that she has an entire series focused on the same set of characters. Her books are fun and super easy to read.
I hope you love these books, authors, and illustrators as much as we do. Read on!