100 great books to read with your kids

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The selection of books is as important as the selection of toys. Most children will sit and enjoy when we read to then, so this is our chance to pass on the love of literature and of reading, to teach facts, values and the pronunciation of words.

As you look at pictures in books and identify the objects, the child learns that abstract picture symbols represent real things. Soon the transition will be made to understanding abstract letter symbols. It is better to have only a few good books then to have many which are unworthy of a young child’s developing mind.

As you make careful selections of books, provide a book shelf or some other easily accessible place to keep them, so that the child can easily find the one she wants, can care for them and easily put them away.

Books for young children should be uncluttered and simple with a clear presentation of the important concepts. The first words that children learn are nouns – the objects of everyday life.

The pleasure in reading is in the meaningful relationship the infant or young child has with the primary care giver. Books become meaningful when they are part of a one-on-one relationship with the mother or mothering person; they are a sweet addition to the loving relationship that exists between the child and care giver.

The first thing I look for in a book is whether there any scary pictures. Is there a fire? Do the animals have long sharp teeth? Look at the text of each book and decide if the vocabulary is appropriate. Are the words scary  – i.e. yelping, snarling and hissing sounds. Are there references to violence or antisocial behavior – fighting or throwing things?

I think about what questions or worries the child – your child – may have about a picture or phrase that is used in the book. Children will have their own thoughts, ideas and fantasies about the story that is being read. A child may have had frightening experiences with a dog or horse and you wouldn’t choose a book about these animals.

When a child’s feelings or worries are big they get in the way of what you are trying to teach. So a story with scary pictures or words may get in the way of a child learning a new concept.

As we read, we help our children move along the continuum from learning to read books toward reading to learn from books.

You will need to read books over and over because children learn from repetition. However in some cases, the wish to have something repeated does not always stem from liking it. If a child finds a book to be scary, the desire to have it repeated can be motivated by a need to play an active role in controlling when he or she has that scared feeling.

They ask for the scary book to be the boss of when they feel scared. They want things repeated to learn how to manage worried feelings. In fact, rather than practicing being scared, children may benefit more by talking about what gives them scared feelings. Let them know you have the same feelings.

With that introduction here are 100 great books for reading with your kids. The links go to Amazon, and will generate a small donation to Hanna Perkins Center when used to make a purchase.

  1. Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown
  2. Little Turtle’s Big Adventure, David Harrison
  3. Do Like Kyla, Angela Johnson
  4. Why Do You Cry?, Kate Klise
  5. Boots, Anne Schreiber
  6. Shawn Goes to School, Petronella Breinberg
  7. New Shoes for Silvia, Johanna Hurwitz
  8. Shades of Black, Sandra Pinkney
  9. Kevin and His Dad, Irene Small
  10. Something is Going to Happen, Charlotte Zolotow
  11. The Little Red Hen, Byron Barton
  12. The Jacket I Wear in the Snow, Shirley Neitzel
  13. The Kissing Hand, Audrey Penn
  14. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Laura Joffe Numeroff
  15. Freight Train, Donald Crews
  16. The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats
  17. Green Eyes, A. Birnbaum
  18. Jonathan and His Mommy, Irene Smalls
  19. Kitten for a Day, Ezra Jack Keats
  20. Alphabet Under Construction, Denise Fleming
  21. Snowmen at Night, Caralyn Buehner
  22. From My Window, Olive Wong
  23. Mama, If you Had a Wish, Jeanne Modesitt
  24. Big Wheels, Anne Rockwell
  25. Feelings, Susan Canezans
  26. The First Snowfall, Anne and Harlow Rockwell
  27. Little Quack’s Hide and Seek, Lauren Thompson
  28. Too Big, Too Small, Just Right, Frances Minters
  29. A Winter Day, Douglas Florian
  30. Don’t You Feel Well, Sam, Amy Hest
  31. My World, Margaret Wise Brown
  32. The Important Book, Margaret Wise Brown
  33. When This Box is Full, Patricia Lillie
  34. Snow on Snow on Snow, Cheryl Chapman
  35. Michael and the Cats, Barbara Abercrombie
  36. Ten, Nine, Eight, Molly Bang
  37. The Way Mothers Are, Meriam Schlein
  38. My Spring Robin, Anne Rockwell
  39. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Mo Willems
  40. Big Fat Hen, Keith Baker
  41. Anno’s Counting Book, Mitsumasa Anno
  42. The Line-Up Book, Marisa Bena Russo
  43. Rain Drop Plop, Wendy Cheyetle
  44. Feast for Ten, Cathryn Falwell
  45. Caps for Sale, Esphyr Slobodkina
  46. On Mother’s Lap, Ann Herbert Scott
  47. What a Wonderful World, George David Weiss and Bob Thiele
  48. Duck on a Bike, David Shannon
  49. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Bill Martin Jr.
  50. Mama Always Comes Home, Karma Wilson
  51. Mommy Always Comes Back, Constances Miller
  52. Frog and Toad are Friends, Arnold Lobel
  53. The Gigantic Turnip, Alekei Tolstoy
  54. School, Emily Arnold McCully
  55. One Happy Classroom, Charnan Simon
  56. What Comes in 2’s, 3’s and 4’s, Suzanne Aker
  57. On My Way to Buy Eggs, Chah-Yuan Chen
  58. Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do You See?, Bill Marlin Junior
  59. Let’s Go Home Little Bear, Martin Waddell
  60. My Cat, Judy Taylor
  61. Kitten’s First Full Moon, Kevin Henke
  62. The Littlest Owl, Caroline Pitcher
  63. Gooseberry Goose, Claire Freeman
  64. School isn’t Fair, Patricia Baehr
  65. Little by Little, Amber Stewart
  66. Jamaica Tag-Along, Juanita Havill
  67. Rain, Kalan/Crews
  68. All About Me, teacher-created materials
  69. When I Feel Angry, Cornelia Maude Spelman
  70. Just My Size, May Garelick
  71. One of Three, Angela Johnson
  72. Sing a Song of People, Lois Lenski
  73. A Tree is Nice, Janice Udry
  74. Ruby in Her Own Time, Jonathan Emmett
  75. The Runaway Bunny, Margaret Wise Brown
  76. Snowballs, Lois Ehlert
  77. Sadie and the Snowman, Allen Morgan and Brenda Clark
  78. Llama Llama Mad at Mama, Anna Dewdney
  79. Growing Like Me, Anne Rockwell
  80. The Friend, John Burningham
  81. Clementine’s Winter Wardrobe, Kate Spohn
  82. Why Do Grown-ups Have All the Fun, Marisakina Russo
  83. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
  84. The Fat Cat Sat on the Mat, Alice Cameron
  85. The Mitten, Jan Brett
  86. All You Need for a Snowman, Alice Shertle
  87. The Bus for Us, Suzanne Bloom
  88. Over On the Farm, Christopher Gunson
  89. Block City, Robert Louis Stevenson and Daniel Kirk
  90. Something from Nothing, Phoebe Gilman
  91. One Magical Day, Claire Freedman
  92. My Spring Robin, Anne Rockwell
  93. Alphabet City, Stephen Johnson
  94. All the World, Liz Garten Scanlon
  95. Flower Garden, Eve Bunting
  96. Fall Leaves Fall, Shari Halpern
  97. Jamaica’s Find, Juanita Havill
  98. Jamaica and Briana, Juanita Havill
  99. Fiesta, Ginger Foglesong Guy
  100. The Tortilla Factory, Gary Paulsen

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