Category: Children’s Books

Apr 30

Kid Lit with my Kidlet: Sammy’s Current Faves

Children's Books, Kidlit with my Kidlet 1

Howdy Bookworms,

I can’t tell you how much it thrills me that Sammers enjoys reading stories with me. I mean, sure, I’ve been reading to him at least nightly since infancy, but he’s reached an age where he can actively choose the books we read and interacts with the stories. It’s so stinking cute. If you need book recs for the kiddos in your life, read on, friends!

Yes, that is a Llama Llama Red Pajama shirt. Of course my kid has book swag.

We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems: We have a decent collection of Mo Willems on our shelves, but so far We Are in a Book! is the hands down favorite. This book makes Sammy laugh SO HARD. It’s probably at least partially because I’m overly animated in recreating Elephant and Piggie’s laughter, but I shall never apologize for my over-the-top read aloud style. Like most (if not all) Mo Willems books, this book is heavy on audience recognition and participation. The self awareness is taken to a new level when Gerald (the Elephant) and Piggie (the, uh, Piggie) realize that they are, in fact, in a book. This is such a fun read! Now, Sam will occasionally shout “Banana” out of context and start cracking up. That’s the sort of thing everyone could use more of, no?

A Place for Pluto by Stef Wade, Illustrated by Melanie Demmer- This book was a gift from my husband’s “Fairy Godmothers.” They still live in the small town my husband hails from, and among its claims to fame is that it’s the birthplace of the dude who discovered Pluto. The Pluto love is big in this little town, and they were responsible for many a letter-writing campaign trying to keep Pluto’s status as a planet once it was declassified. So, naturally, this excellent children’s book about the demotion of Pluto to “dwarf planet” landed in one of Sammy’s many book packages. The book is fantastic- very scientific with cute and clever illustrations. Frankly, it’s kind of a tricky one to read aloud because of the vocab- when you’re used to simple rhymes at story time, trying to get your brain and mouth around “asteroid” and “meteoroid” and “Kuiper Belt” can be a challenge. But Sammers loves the book, so I put my astronomer voice and read the same story over and over and over again. No lie, he made me read this 6 times in a row the other night. The recommended age range on the cover is 4-8 years, so if you have older-than-toddler kiddos with an interest in space, this would make a great addition to your bookshelves.

Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola- A classic for good reason! Strega Nona’s magic pasta pot has been delighting children since the 1970s, and shows no signs of slowing. I read it to Sam one bedtime, and at the following nap time, he specifically requested “Big Anthony” (he thinks the unfortunate fellow’s tummy full of pasta is high comedy.) He’s since started calling the book by its actual title, but it remains a staple of bedtime and nap time reading. I purchased our copy from Book Outlet which is a GREAT resource for inexpensive kids books. They usually have a mark on them or might be a little scratch-n-dent-y, but when you’re buying for a toddler, it hardly matters. The poor things will get banged up anyway.

On a side note: if you’re interested in seeing regular Sam Spam (IE, lots and lots of pictures) you’re welcome to check out my Instagram. Yes, it’s set to private, but only because I was creeped out by a few random dudes who started following my feed which is 99% toddler pics. I’m happy to approve anyone who looks like a real person, is bookish, and/or I recognize from other social media. I’m always cheered up by cute kiddo pics, so if you’re in need of that kind of joy, welcome to my Instagram!

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. The links above direct to Amazon, but if you’re in a position to do so, please consider purchasing through a local, independent book store. Websites like IndieBound and Bookshop.org make it easy to support your local book shop even when you can’t physically shop there. 

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Feb 06

Penguin Books for Every Occasion: Kid Lit with my Kidlet

Bookish Baby, Children's Books, Children's Fiction, Kidlit with my Kidlet 2

Hiya Bookworms!

Y’all know by now that I’m an avid penguin enthusiast, and that I shamelessly roped my child into the obsession (check out his first Halloween and nursery if you require proof.) Sammy has a MASSIVE book collection, and a large swath of that is dedicated to our flightless feathered friends. I know what you’re thinking. “How many penguin books can there possibly be? And on how many subjects? There are only so many cutesy rhymes one can make with ‘waddle’!” But you, my bookish friend, would be incorrect. Lo, there is a penguin book for EVERY occasion and learning opportunity. Lest you doubt me, I’ve complied a list (which is by no means exhaustive) of some very excellent children’s books featuring penguins. Prepare yourselves: it’s unbearably cute.

Penguins Teach Science: I wish I could find my copy of If You Were a Penguin by Wendell and Florence Minor (review)! I misplaced it long before Sammers was born, sigh. It’s such an adorable book full of rhymes and penguin facts. I’m sure it’s packed away in a box somewhere that will turn up eventually, but for now, I am bereft. Luckily, we have another great option for fun penguin facts and science tidbits on hand: Penguins, Penguins, Everywhere! by Bob Barner. The illustrations are bright and fun, though I confess I prefer the illustrations in If You Were a PenguinCurse my absent-mindedness!

Penguins Whose Parents Take Business Trips: Love, Mama by Jeanette Bradley is a sweet little story featuring a young penguin whose mother goes away on a business trip. I love that the mama penguin appears to be a scientist- the illustrations suggest she’s on some sort of research expedition. I also love that this book portrays the mama penguin as the one on a work trip while the daddy penguin holds down the fort. And, while the baby penguin and mama penguin miss each other, they’re reunited at the end. This would be a great addition to the library of any toddler with parents who travel for work! (I do not have to travel for work, but Jim occasionally does. Sam and I like to read this one when he’s out of town. I think it would be helpful for kids who are anxious about being away from their parent/caregiver for any length of time.)

Penguins Teach Basic Skills: Sarah Aspinall has a charming series of books tackling basic toddler skills including Penguins Love ColorsPenguins Love Their ABC’s, and Penguins Love Counting: Let’s Make Snowmen (I can’t find a shopping link for this anywhere, sorry! I bought it at a Scholastic book fair- what a rush!) There are six penguins (one named Broccoli!) who get up to all sorts of shenanigans while learning. Sam’s particularly fond of Penguins Love Colors, and really digs that the book sort of breaks the fourth wall (is that a thing in books the way it is in TV?). It encourages audience participation- these would make AWESOME choices for library/daycare story times.

Penguins Have All the Feels: Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer follows a penguin who has had a particularly rough day. We don’t know why the penguin is so upset, but neither does the penguin. This is a great book to help teach toddlers about moods and feelings. It also encourages them to take baths to wash away the grumpiness, and that’s never a bad thing. A nice bubble bath has been known to lift my spirits too!

Penguins Offer Companionship: Your Personal Penguin by Sandra Boynton is adorable. I highly recommend looking up the song before reading it- if you’re anything like me, you’ll end up sing-reading. The premise of the story is that a penguin desperately wants to become BFF with a hippo. Because why not? The penguin spends the book trying to convince the hippo that they should be platonic life partners. As an added bonus, the song was performed by none other than everybody’s favorite Monkee Davy Jones (RIP) so it’s bouncy and cute.

Penguins Teach Manners: Penguin Says “Please” by Michael Dahl, Illustrated by Oriol Vidal teaches the little ones how to ask for things, rather than demanding. The Mama penguin in this book is very patient, but she’s not going to be ordered around. This little penguin needs to say “please!” And so does my toddler. He’ll say “please,” but it’s often in a heart wrenching and plaintive wail. Like “pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeease don’t make me go to bed, you absolute monster of a mother.” Or, um, something like that.

Penguin Moms Who Just Need a Minute: Baby Penguins Everywhere!and Baby Penguins Love their Mama by Melissa Guion are super cute books and both of them feature an overwhelmed Mama penguin taking a time for herself. In one, she even takes a NAP! It’s wonderful! I think it’s great for kids to see that their caretakers are human too and might need a little rest from time to time.

Penguins Teach About Adoption and/or Same-Sex Parent Families: I couldn’t make a list of penguin books for all occasions without bringing up the one about the same-sex penguin couple who want to have a family (oh, my soft, squishy heart!) The two male penguins fall in penguin love and try to hatch a rock. When the zookeepers see this, they give the couple an egg that’s been rejected by its parents to raise and, voila! And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell (review) is often banned and challenged which irks me for a number of reasons. I mean: It’s a true story, LOVE IS LOVE, and while parents can (and should) monitor and approve what their own children read, they have no business denying access to other people’s children. But I digress. I haven’t read this one with Sammy yet simply because it’s a lot more text-heavy than most of the others on this list. He’s got a pretty good attention span for 2 and a half, but this one’s geared toward more of a kindergarten crowd, I think. Still, it’s a wonderful and penguiny way for kids to learn about adoption and same-sex parent families.

Would it surprise you to know that this is not an exhaustive list of our penguin literature? I could write so many penguin kid book posts. And I reserve the right to do so. There is a zero percent chance of me parting with any of these books once Sammers outgrows them. I shall be the curator of my own private penguiny library and it will only be, like, medium weird.

One day, he may not want to wear penguin PJs, but today is not that day.

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Links within the above text direct to Amazon, but if you prefer to shop through local, independent book stores, please see the links below*

If You Were a Penguin
Penguins, Penguins, Everywhere!
Love, Mama
Penguins Love Colors
Penguins Love Their ABCs
Grumpy Pants
Your Personal Penguin
Baby Penguins Love Their Mama!
Baby Penguins Everywhere!
And Tango Makes Three

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Feb 05

Reading Books, Lifting Flaps

Bookish Baby, Children's Books 1

Hiya Bookworms!

This is probably the least surprising thing about me, but I LOVE reading stories to little kids. One of the things I looked most forward to when I imagined having a child was the bedtime stories. Reading in our house is not confined to bedtime by any means, but since my husband and I both work full time and the kiddo goes to bed early, there’s not a lot of time on weekdays to read outside of the bedtime routine. (I am NOT complaining about the early bedtime, I LOVE the early bedtime, please do not smite me, Universe!) Sammy has liked to participate in the story time process by turning pages for quite a while now, but he’s starting to get REALLY excited about lift-the-flap books (and any book with an interactive element.) Here are some of our current favorites.

ONE: Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell- This was a gift from the sweet, wonderful, Stacey at Unruly Reader. My BEA commuter squad met up for a little reunion when I was, like, medium pregnant with Sammers. Stacey had picked up a couple of books for me that her nieces and nephews had loved, and this was one of them. It’s so cute! Imagine writing the zoo to ask for a pet and being sent a series of animals that aren’t what might traditionally be considered house pets. Until, the end, that is, when SPOILER ALERT, the narrator receives a “DOGGY! DOGGY! DOGGY!” as Samuel so succinctly puts it.

TWO: Never Touch a Monster by Rosie Greening, Illustrated by Stuart Lynch: We’ve got a wide variety of books with texture in our library, but this one is delightfully unique. Instead of having little patches of fabric for texture, these monsters have this funky silicon nubby stuff. It’s a sensory delight for me as a grown woman, so it’s no surprise Sam loves it too. It’s also got some really fun rhyming and general silliness so it’s great fun to read out loud. We’re very lucky in that Sammy’s Grandma (a retired elementary school teacher) is exceptionally passionate about children’s literacy and gives him books at every giftable occasion, some questionably giftable occasions, and frequently just because. This was, unsurprisingly, one of her finds. (Sammy’s Nana is also an avid reader, but as a semi-retired dental hygienist, she’s more likely to make sure her grandson is in possession of high tech toothbrushes than books, which works out well. He has his own Sonicare AND an impressive library. This child wants for nothing.)

THREE: Little Red Penguin Shapes, Colors, Words, Numbers by Angela Muss: I actually purchased this set of board books myself which is kind of surprising. We have received so many books as gifts that our shelves are full to bursting without much help from me. Sammy’s daycare did a sale through Usborne books. Knowing the school was going to get a percentage of the overall purchases in free product was what finally made me take the plunge, as I’ve been invited to many digital Usborne “parties” and never made a purchase. These are sturdy little board books with lots of colorful illustrations and plenty of flaps to lift. Obviously, my primary motivation in ordering this particular set was the penguin protagonist, but I’m very pleased with the quality. I do have to admit that when I purchase board books, I usually get them from discount retailers. As a result, the price on these felt a bit high to me for something that’s going to end up battered and soaked in drool, however I don’t think the prices are terrible when compared to list price on similar books. (PSA: If you haven’t gone on a book binge through Book Outlet, you’re missing out.)

FOUR: Hi-Five Animals! by Ross Burach: Rather than having flaps or textures, this book is interactive in that you literally hi-five it. As you turn the pages, different animals hold up various appendages asking for you to give them a love tap. It’s a really fun book to read with a toddler (I’m guessing this would be a big hit with the preschool set as well.) Who doesn’t like to give hi-fives? Plus, hi-fives are a nice alternative greeting for kids aren’t comfortable giving hugs to everyone who asks. I’ve accepted many a hi-five from bashful tots. There have actually been a couple of times when I go to pick Sam up at daycare and a random kid will run up to me. I’d be happy to give them a squeeze, but if I don’t know their parents, I think it’s kind of weird to go in for the hug, so I offer them a hi-five instead. I can’t take responsibility for the one time I sat on the ground to read Sam the book that he handed me and another kid crawled into my lap, though. I doubt that little girl’s mom would have minded because she’s one of the few daycare parents with whom I’ve shared friendly banter. I’d totally be Mom Friends with her. You know. If I knew how to make Mom Friends. (I have plenty of friends who are also parents, but I’ve never made a parent friend directly through my child. That’s what I mean by “Mom Friends.” I feel the need to clarify that, for fear of receiving sassypants texts from my actual IRL friends, Book Club being the most likely culprits. They’re the sassiest.)

FIVE: That’s Not My Penguin by Fiona Watt: This was a gift from one of Sam’s baby showers, and, coincidentally, another Usborne book. It shows a different penguin on each page highlighting a textured feature that proves they are not “MY” penguin. Fuzzy tummies, shiny beaks, fluffy penguin chicks- it’s really cute. We also have one of the siblings to this book which replaces the penguin with a reindeer. I think there are at least a couple of other animals available too, but OBVIOUSLY this is my favorite. We have more than a few penguin related titles. I’m not mad about it.

SIDE NOTE: Remember how I posted about a month ago that I was concerned about Sam’s lack of walking? HE CAN WALK NOW! The doctor was right, being the only non-walker in the toddler room put a bee in his bonnet and now he toddles around like a drunken sailor. It’s ridiculously cute. It’ll probably be less cute when he’s running away from me in public, but I have one of those backpacks with a tether and I’m not afraid to use it, SAMUEL. I’ll take the side eye from other parents for having a kid on a leash over my kid running into traffic any day of the week, y’all.

Trying to get a decent photo of him walking is a challenge because he’s still kind of wobbly and they all come out blurry. But here’s a triumphant smile. Actually, it’s just a smile because I was singing the “Hop Little Bunny” song and bouncing a stuffed rabbit, but you get the idea. He’s proud of himself. We’re proud of him. Smiles for days.

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I may receive a small commission.*

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