My mackerdoodle has her own shelf of books, plus a box of board books, plus her favorite bedtime stories in a third box beside her bed. With such an impressive collection, you can imagine that I read a lot of books in a week. Like most children, she runs in phases, choosing the same few books over and over before moving on to another collection of favorites. In each batch of favorites there are the ones I grit my teeth to read so frequently, but there are others that I love to re-read and re-read. I’m often sorry when they get abandoned by my fickle daughter.
Here are my five favorites right now:
1. Uncle Elephant is an exception to my preference against reading the “early reader” stories aloud to a non-reader. Generally early reader books are designed to encourage children with smaller reading vocabulary to read for themselves. For the most part they lack the rhythm and repetition that toddlers and preschoolers enjoying hearing read to them. Basically they sacrifice language and plot for readability. Not so with Uncle Elephant. It is a touching story about a little elephant who stays with his uncle Elephant because his parents are lost at sea. It’s touching, poignant and a lot of fun, with a fantastic ending. The mackerdoodle loves to hear it and we love to read it.
2. I Love You Stinky Face has ferocious animals, green aliens, grossness, and the phrase “Stinky Face.” How could you not love this book? Tucking her child into bed, a mama says “I love you my wonderful child.” Trying to delay bedtime, the wonderful child comes up with all sorts of “what ifs”, like “but mama, what if I were a green alien from Mars and ate bugs instead of peanut butter?” The mama responds to each imaginary scenario with a fun answers that all boil down to: I would still love you. The illustrations are fun and bright and the writing is fun to read. It has been in the favorite pile since Terri gave it to the mackerdoodle for her first birthday and it shows no signs of falling out of favor any time soon.
3. On the Farm by Richard Scarry is out of print – maybe because one of the pages has a bunny spraying pesticides on flower garden – but if you are ever at my house for the mackerdoodle’s bed time, insist on hearing this one. She has it memorized and hearing a 2 year old say, “he dwive disc hawow. tuhns and mixes soil,” is so much fun.
4. Dr. Seuss’s ABC book is one that I have memorized, but it is so much fun to read. It is my favorite Dr. Seuss by far, and I find myself quoting it when we point out the alphabet shapes at other times. “Ten tired turtles in a tuttle tuttle tree” is much more fun than, “T says tuh. tuh. Like tree or turtle.” That’s why Dr. Seuss is the Shakespeare of children’s literature without the bawdy bits.
5. I Love My Mommy Because… and I Love My Daddy Because. . . are beautifully illustrated books with a straightforward writing style. Each page contains an illustration of parent/offspring relationship in the animal kingdom and the statement “I love my mommy/daddy because” followed by the behavior being demonstrated in the picture. For instance, in I love my daddy, there is a drawing of beavers building a dam, with the caption “I love my daddy because he can build a house.” That particular sentence illustrates why I love this set of books. It is a rare contemporary gender role book. While there are some ideas that overlap between the two books (for instance both mommy and daddy “keep me safe and warm.”) the majority of the ideas are unique to each parent. For instance, mommy “feeds me when I’m hungry” with a picture of a ewe nursing her lamb, while daddy “brings me dinner” with a picture of a puffin bringing fish to his chicks. Daddy “teaches me to be brave,” while mommy keeps me nice and clean.” It is a great tool in teaching our children that while mommy and daddy both have important and different jobs – a rare find in contemporary culture.