The Best Children’s Books You May Have Never Heard Of…

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I believe in reading to kids.

I believe in it more than I believe in chocolate’s ability to turn around a bad day.

Trust me. That’s a lot of believing.

I preached it as an English teacher, and I preach it as a parent.There is nothing better that you can do for your child (except maybe feed and water them daily) to help them succeed later in life.

I started reading to our daughter when she was less than a month old. Every night and before every nap time we’d spend at least five to ten minutes reading.

IMG_0032And do you know what the result has been of all that reading? My child LOVES books. We probably spend over an hour every day curled up reading her books over and over and over again. Every time I pick up a new one for her my husband asked “Doesn’t she have enough books?”

The answer is no. There are NEVER enough books.

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If my mom is to be believed…London even loves reading even more than I did at that age. Although, my mother also thinks she was cuter than I was at that age, had more hair, was smarter…. you get the idea.

You know everything they say about grandparents thinking their grandkids walk on water?

All true.

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Anyways…after the last 21 months of reading more children’s books than I could ever count…I’ve come to a conclusion.

All children’s books were not created equally.

Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, but I have definite opinions for what constitutes a good children’s book.

So in the spirit of the season, I thought I’d share some of my tried and true favorites. I chose not to include the obvious ones like Good Night Moon, On the Night You Were Born or The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Those books make an appearance at almost every baby shower and birthday. Which is fine, they’re great. But if you are looking for a few off the beaten path to give as a gift, check these out!

The Quiet Book

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Adorable illustrations of bunnies and owls illustrating all the different kids of quiet that happen throughout the day. Really clever idea. Bonus-teaches the concept of being quiet. Priceless.

The Pout Pout Fish

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You get to say “Blub Blub Blub” quite a bit. Always a bonus in my book, plus the words rhyme beautifully, and if you’re like me, you get to give lots of smooches to your kid at the end when the pout pout fish realizes he is really a kiss kiss fish.

All of Baby Nose to Toes

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This book is too cute for words, and it’s a great way to teach your little one where their nose and eyes etc. are.

Any book by Matthew Van Fleet

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Between things to pull and fuzzy things to pet, these books were London’s favorites very early on. The older she gets the more she enjoys them as she can now point out the different kinds of animals.

The Pigeon Wants a Puppy!

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Anything by Mo Willems really. Although, his smart alecky pigeon is my favorite. Start with “Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive the Bus” and work your way through all of them.  Bonus- the writing is LARGE so grandparents can read these without digging out their reading glasses.

Diary of a Worm

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Of all the kids books I’ve listed, I wish I’d written this one. Hilarious. The illustrations are spot on, and the writer is extremely clever when describing the day to day life of a worm.

The Girl Who Wouldn’t Brush Her Hair

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This answers the age old question…why should I brush my hair? According to this book, the answer is to prevent well-meaning but party-prone mice from moving in. Very well written with adorable illustrations this one is a must for the little girl in your life.

How do Dinosaurs Say Good Night

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You knew I had to throw a dinosaur book in here somewhere, didn’t you? Ever since I wrote a book about dinosaurs, London has been swamped with dinosaur toys, books, clothing, pajamas…you name it…we have it. Which is great because she LOVES dinosaurs.( No gender stereotyping of toys around here thank you very much.) The dinosaur nerd in me really enjoyed the way each of the dinosaurs featured in this book are actual dinosaurs, and the message of how to go to bed like a “good little dinosaur” is an added bonus. (We also own “How Do Dinosaurs Play with their Friends and How Do Dinosaurs Pick Up Their Room”)

Duck on a Bike

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This book has all the familiar barn yard animals in it, but unlike the monotony of “Old McDonald” it’s clever and has a great ending. In my humble opinion, all ducks should ride bikes.

Press Here

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The concept of this book is simple yet brilliant. Using nothing more than colored dots, this book will keep your toddler entertained for hours… Okay, maybe not hours, but a good five minutes. Which in toddler time IS an hours.

Violet the Pilot

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Hurray for this book! Rather than the typical pretty, pink-loving princess character, this book features Violet- girl engineer. Along with her dog Orville, Violet spends her time turning bits of junk into working flying machines. She is one of my favorite children’s book characters and it is a great way to encourage girls to do and be anything.

Who knows, maybe a few of these will find their way under your tree this year. Remember, there is no better investment than reading to your child.

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