It’s February now, and we’re quickly approaching the 1 year mark of our lives’ upheaval due to COVID. It’s so strange. In some ways time feels frozen. In others, it’s just kept marching on. Samuel, for one, has insisted on growing and changing this year as he progressed from 2.5 to 3.5. I mourn for all the things he should have been able to do this year. Preschool, swimming lessons, the toddler gymnastics show we never got to see, hanging out with other kids his age, etc. But in other ways, at least, in the moments where I’m not completely stressed out, I feel like I got the opportunity to steal some of that relentless march of childhood time back. Making the choice to keep Sam out of daycare this year has been tough. I question it all the time- especially as I’ve been working remotely full time. It’s hard on a level beyond normal “parenting is hard.” Pandemic parenting is brutal and there are no perfect choices- absolutely no judgement toward anyone who has decided (or had no choice) to continue with face-to-face school or childcare. Well. Unless you’re being actively reckless, in which case, please, enjoy all the shade I’m sending your way. Still the endless hugs and extra story time and the front row seat to every single milestone I otherwise wouldn’t have gotten? I can’t say that it makes it all “worth it” but I’m not (yet) so jaded that I can’t recognize the upsides in my current situation. In that spirit, I thought I’d share some of Sammy’s favorite books at the moment. There’s never a bad time to talk about kid lit, is there?
I Don’t Want to Go to Sleep by Dev Petty, Illustrated by Mike Boldt- This book is so great! At first, I figured it would just be about a frog protesting bedtime. But no! This little froggie is upset because he wants to enjoy winter but he’s supposed to hibernate. An owl (a bit of a know-it-all and a blanket thief) tries to explain the situation to our little frog and gives an impromptu science lesson. Which, honestly, was helpful to me because I’d never given much thought to what frogs do in the winter and it never occurred to me that they might sink to the bottom of a pond and snooze in the mud for a few months. Sometimes the learning that takes place in kid lit isn’t JUST absorbed by the kids. It’s a funny book and the illustrations are fantastic. It certainly earned that Sammers seal of approval.
Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas by Aaron Blabey- This book is great, but only if you read it with an Australian or British accent. In order to make “piranha” and “banana” rhyme, you’ve got to say “Bah-Nah-Nah.” I’ll admit, I was a bit disappointed when I decided to check out the audiobook of this one and they read it with an North American accent- I mean, why even bother? Since the book was originally published in Australia (yes, I looked it up) and we’ve watched an inordinate amount of Bluey, my Aussie accent isn’t too terrible. It’s not good, and I sound a little bit like Steve Irwin, but I’m trying to entertain a 3 year old, not win an Oscar, OKAY? Anyway. Brian the piranha is trying to convince his buddies that fruits and vegetables are great, and they’re all “nah dude, we eat human flesh.” That sounds macabre, but it’s actually really funny. And, if your kid is at all amused by potty humor (which is 100% Sam’s jam) they will absolutely crack up at the lines involving “bums.”
Sneezy the Snowman by Maureen Wright, Illustrated by Stephen Gilpin- Sammy thinks the story of this bumbling snowman is hilarious. Sneezy makes a lot of questionable choices and continually melts himself in an effort to get warm. The group of children who built (and keep re-building) him try to offer him their outerwear (at which point I gave Sam a lecture about never giving up your COAT to a snowman- that poor little girl looked frigid) in an effort to keep him warm without endlessly melting himself. Sneezy eventually figures it out with the help of ice cream, but the children never get their hat, scarf, or coat back. Which, um, RUDE. But I guess you can’t expect much in the way of social graces from a snowman who can’t keep himself from drinking cocoa, sitting in hot tubs, or standing too close to camp fires.
Bedtime for Superheroes by Katherine Locke, Illustrated by Rayanne Vieira- I’ve followed Katherine Locke on Twitter for years, so when I saw they had a children’s book published, I had to order a copy. The fact that it’s about Superheroes is perfect- especially considering my child spends half his time in a PJ Masks Gecko costume or wearing a hooded Superhero towel and demanding to be addressed as “Captain Chicken.” It’s worth noting that this is the only book on this list I actually purchased for my child. The rest are from the benevolent book fairy that is Grandma. This book has simple language, and it’s not rhyming, but it’s so charming. The book shows all kinds of different kids wearing their superhero-y best while reminding my recalcitrant 3 year old that even superheroes need to sleep and eat vegetables. The illustrations, though, are what makes the book extra special. It depicts one of the most diverse groups of children I’ve ever seen in a kids’ book. There’s a little girl with a limb difference, children of different ethnicities, kids who appear to defy the gender binary, and Sammy’s personal favorite- the kid in the purple whom I believe to be hearing impaired. He does an exemplary job of dealing with Bad Guy Goo- a true hero. If you’ve got a “Captain Chicken” of your own, get yourself a copy of Bedtime for Superheroes.
I Love You Just the Way You Are by Rosie Greening, Illustrated by James Dillon- A sweet rhyming book about loving your kiddos even when they’re being difficult. Not a morning person? Just a bit shy? Kind of prickly? This book reassures little ones that their parents love ALL of them, even the moody, messy, rambunctious bits. The illustrations are adorable, the rhymes are on point, and the message is great. It’s no wonder my cantankerous, tantrum prone toddler loves it so much.
I hope you enjoyed this little sampling of books currently in heavy rotation for our story times! I’m always open to suggestions of awesome new kid books, so if you know of something great, let me know!
If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Links in the post above direct to Amazon, but if you’re interested and in a position to do so, please consider making a purchase from a local independent bookstore. IndieBound and Bookshop make it easy to do just that without having to leave your home!