Great Children's Books to Give This Holiday Season

Last Updated Nov 4, 2010 11:33 AM EDT

I love reading to my kids. In many other areas of parenthood - like birthday party goody bags and American Girl doll imaginative play - I'm a well-documented slacker. But give me a stack of good children's books and a couple of attentive little people? I could read all day.

If you've got kids on your holiday shopping list this year, you can't go wrong with a book. Unless of course, it's a book based off a television show. You know, Count with Dora or It's Check-Up Time, Elmo! They're not stories; they're brand extensions. Unfortunately books like that take up most of the shelf space at B&N these days. Ditto for books by guys who play in the NFL. Not worth it.

Any casual reader knows that animals predominate in children's lit. I'm not sure what's with all the anthropomorphizing, but books that feature people, or people interacting with animals, stand out in my mind. And yes, the ages and gender of my children influence my selections.

Without further ado, here's my list.

Books Featuring People or Things:

1. The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats

2. The Carrot Seed, by Ruth Krauss. Babies dig this book.

3. Freight Train, by Donald Crews

4. Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey. The mother bear does talk, but it's mostly a people story.

5. The Stray Dog, by Marc Simont.

6. Tree of Cranes, by Allen Say

7. Good Night Engines, by Denise Dowling Mortensen. Toddler boys love this one.

8. Digger Man, by Andrea Zimmerman. Ditto for the toddler boys.

9. A Chair for My Mother, by Vera B. Williams. With plenty of drama, this book teaches kids about saving their pennies.

10. Strega Nona, by Tomie De Paola

11. Fancy Nancy, by Jane O'Connor. Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy and Fancy Nancy: Bonjour, Butterfly are sweet too. Skip the product extensions.

12. The Knuffle Bunny series, by Mo Willems. The bunny in the title remains blessedly silent. And the postscript in the last one, Knuffle Bunny Free, chokes me up so much that I can't read it aloud.

Books Featuring Animals Interacting With People:

1. Good Night, Gorilla; 10 Minutes Till Bedtime; Officer Buckle and Gloria, all by Peggy Rathmann. She's a genius.

2. A Pocket for Corduroy, by Don Freeman

3. Curious George Flies A Kite, by Margret Rey and H.A. Rey

Books Featuring Animals Acting Like People:

1. Frog and Toad books, by Arnold Lobel

2. Bear Snores On, by Karma Wilson. Listeners should be instructed to mimic snoring noises at the appropriate cues.

3. Poppleton books, by Cynthia Rylant

4. Farfallina & Marcel, by Holly Keller

5. Bats at the Beach, by Brian Lies. It's brilliant. The sequels don't quite measure up to the original masterpiece.

Books for Emerging Readers (girls):

1. Junie B. Jones, by Barbara Park. Her grammar isn't what you'd want to teach your children, but my daughter has never laughed so hard as when Junie B. tried to steal the flowers from the flower girl.

2. The Boxcar Children, No. 1, by Gertrude Chandler Warner. I'm not yet qualified to speak about the others in the series.

3. Princess Lulu Goes to Camp, by Kathryn Cristaldi. This beginning reader paperback, a fun friendship story, is just $3.99 on Amazon.


What's on your list of favorite children's books? Sign in below to let me know.

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