Monday, October 25, 2010


1. a place set apart to contain books, periodicals, and other material for reading, viewing, listening, study, or reference, as a room, set of rooms, or building where books may be read or borrowed.

Not long ago, a friend e-mailed me with a great idea: she wants to give her nieces and nephews books for Christmas each year.  Since her only daughter is almost exactly one year old, she wanted to see if I had any suggestions.  Did I have book suggestions?  Not only did I have suggestions, it made me start compiling a mental list of what books belong in every family's library.  This post contains books that top my list of baby shower gifts.  They're all for little ears and eyes.  That being said, many of these books still come off the shelves in my home with regularlity as we sit down to read before bed with our six year old.

Here are a few I came up with.  I'd love to hear your favorites.

Ish and Ruby's Wish: I know I feel strongly about these two books because they are my favorite gifts to give at a baby shower.  I especially like to give Ish when it's a second or third child since this book shows sibling relationships.  Reynold's other picture books (The Dot and The North Star) are also good.  Ruby's Wish is my go-to choice for a baby girl shower.  It's lesser known than many classics, but I can rarely read it aloud without crying.  Girl power in early 20th century China?  This book is a must have.

Llama Llama Red Pajama: This didn't go on my list to my friend because it's an Imagination Library selection. This means that if you live in Middle Tennessee and sign up for Books from Birth, you'll receive this book for free as part of the program.  But if you live elsewhere and don't know this book, get it.  Just say the title out loud and you'll know why.  It's a joy to read aloud and will turn even someone like me into a temporary actress.

Little Miss Spider: There's a lot to love about these books - the gorgeous oil painting illustrations, the rhyming text, even lovable Little Miss Spider.  Our family loves not only this book, but Miss Spider's Wedding, which has as endearing a plot as this book.

Barnyard Dance or something else by Sandra Boynton:  This book will have you singing and square dancing.  All of Boynton's books make us laugh and they are some of the most well-worn board books in our collection, which bespeaks my daughters' love of them.

Goodnight Moon: This classic needs no explanation.  Every child should get the opportunity to be lulled into rest to the sound of this lovely prose.

Guess How Much I Love You: My husband wouldn't forgive me if I don't include his favorite board book, which features a father rabbit and Little Nutbrown Hare.

Prayer for a Child: Another restful book to calm your little one down after you've read a fun book like Llama Llama or Barnyard Dance.

Harold and the Purple Crayon: Buy this book for its dreamlike quality and for its final line.

And, finally, a favorite from my own childhood.  I think this might be the only children's book that I remember clearly:  There's a Monster at the End of this Book.  Don't bother with the Elmo version.  Only Grover can make this magic work.

What have I missed?  What do pull off the shelf when your child lets you choose?  What are the must-haves for a child's library?


Daughter said...

I went ahead and bought two from the list and plan to reference this each time I have a future birthday!! Thank you for taking precious time to do this. Also talked to neighbors about your sweet family. Love you.

rufusjt said...

BTW, it is imperative that you read The Monster at the End of This Book as Grover. That's right, you owe it to yourself and your kid(s) to sound like Grover!

Anonymous said...

Everyone should have and treasure
Pat The Bunny and The Little Engine Could.

The Mom said...

As a daughter of a librarian I offer the following: Make Way for Ducklings, Madeline, Babar, Curious George, The Velveteen Rabbit, Corduroy, George and Martha, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Snowy Day, Polar Express!

WordGirl said...

I must admit that Pat the Bunny never excited me, although the Little Engine that Could is certainly a classic.

I also love the librarian suggestions - I don't remember reading The Velveteen Rabbit as a child, but I sobbed the first time I read it aloud to A & B. They looked at me like I'd lost my mind. :-)

Anonymous said...

Where the Wild Things Are!!

Kim said...

I love Thomas' Snowsuit, Stephanie's Ponytail, the tearjerker Love You Forever and the Paperback Princess all by Robert Munsch. As I slowly gave away all my books after I stopped teaching, any Robert Munsch had to be saved!

Add to that favs from my childhood, Little Mommy, Snowy Day and Big Sister, Little Sister by Charlotte Zolotow

Katie Tesch said...

You sent us two boxes of Sandra Boynton for Emma's shower and I can tell that 2 1/2 years later, they are still her favorites and I can recite every one of them by heart. What a wonderful gift that was, thank you for bringing the Pajama Time book to our lives :)
I actually just ordered Llama Llama for the girls for Xmas last week, so I am glad to hear it is a winner!
Love you to all!

WordGirl said...

Oh, Katie! I'm so glad to hear you guys and Emma like the Sandra Boynton books. We've always found them so fun to read! You will LOVE Llama Llama!

Chris and Tiana said...

Tatty Ratty, or really anything by Helen Cooper. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, it's just fun. And we love the Grover version of The Monster at the End of This Book too!

WordGirl said...

Tiana, I haven't read those but I AM near a library! Thanks for sharing.

aimee Guest said...

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell is a family favorite, I never get tired of reading it. The Frog and Toad stories remain classics over here, and several books by Kevin Henkes-Chrysanthemum and Owen.