Raising Richmond: Favorite children’s books

If summer isn’t a big ol’ invitation to read, we don’t know what is. With more time on your family’s hands (hopefully), what children’s books are pleasing the masses in your household? Take a look at our kids’ favorites (and some of our own as well).

Editor’s note: Today’s feature is the newest installment of our parenting column written by two sets of Richmonders: Jorge and Patience Salgado (veteran parents of four gorgeous children), and Ross and Valerie Catrow (parenting rookies who have only been doing this “raising a child thing” for a little while). Check back fortnightly to watch them discuss/agree/disagree/throw down over all kinds of parenting issues, Richmond-related and beyond.

Today’s question: What are your (or your kids’) favorite children’s books?

The Salgados

If summer isn’t a big ol’ invitation to read, I do not know what is. The kids get very excited at my house because it is the one time of year we splurge to buy books, instead of hitting up the library. I have a wide range of book lovers in my family so hopefully our picks will be good for someone in yours.

Here are our current favorites:

Lyra (age 1)

Waddle by Rufus Butler Seder
This scanimation picture book actually has the animals moving as little ones turn the page. We all know turning the pages is everything to this age.

My Friends by Tara Gomi
This sweet little book is about a little girl learning about herself through everything around her and sometimes in unusual places.

Yummy Yucky by Leslie Patricelli
I love books that lay out boundaries and simple lessons in an age appropriate way, like dirt, for example, is yucky. Who knew? The illustrations and rhythm of the words will have you reading this one over and over.

Lucy (age 4)

Angelina Ballerina by Katharine Holabird and Helen Craig
We are deep in princess, dance, and all things frilly over here. What could be better than a mouse who dances and wears a pink tutu? Pure preschool girl bliss.

Eloise by Kay Thompson
It is prime time for a little mischief that only Eloise can bring. The most exciting book being when Eloise goes to Paris which both Lucy and I dream of almost everyday.

Jack (age 7)

Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia are like a staple in this house and the movies only make it even more exciting. You can never go wrong with a classic, anyway.

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Truth be told, I don’t know very much about this book series except that my older son thought it was hilarious. Anything the older brother loves will be an instant hit with the younger brother.

Josiah (age 10)

Robin Hood and King Arthur (Classic Starts Series)
The classics are making a comeback at our house. Adventure and medieval are a huge draw for 10-year-old boys hoping for something exciting to happen. We still can’t decide if Dungeons and Dragons are close behind since fantasy rules all and it looks like we are heading the general nerdalicious direction with these wonderful boys. Bring on the L.A.R.P. !

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
It seems all roads lead to Greek mythology at our house — throw in a kid on an adventure and you get a golden reader. Josiah could not get enough of these… and didn’t even mind that the movie was an insult to the book.

The Catrows

We are big readers in this house, so naturally we were thrilled when our now 18-month-old son JR seemed equally enthralled with books. We spend a good portion of our days reading to him and, when he’s playing independently, he typically ends up plopped on the floor flipping through a pile of his favorites. Parenting win!

Take a look at some of our favorites — books we love reading to him now and others we can’t wait to snuggle up with in the future:

Current faves

What Does Baby See? by Begin Smart Books
I received this book at my baby shower for JR, and it’s been a favorite ever since. It consists entirely of simple images of animals in black, white, and red. JR was mesmerized by the contrast of the pictures — so much so that we often left it open in his crib so he could look at it while dozed off. He still loves to look at it, proudly pointing out each animal’s nose, eyes, tail, etc. Plus, it’s a super-durable board book, so your little one is free to love on it (which he surely will).

So Many Bunnies by Rick Walton
This book was given to us for JR’s first Easter. It tells the story of Mother Rabbit as she tucks her 26 children (sounds shocking but she is, after all, a rabbit) into bed. JR loves the detailed drawings; we love that it covers counting, ABC’s, and rhyming, all in one book. That’s quite the bang for your buck.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Suess
Most people seem surprised that our toddler will sit still through this entire book (sometimes even multiple readings of it). However, if your dad did the Grinch’s voice as a gangster from the 1930’s, you’d probably be interested, too. We can’t wait to show him the cartoon version next Christmas.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault
Pretty standard, yes, but JR loses his mind over this one, especially when all of the letters fall off of the coconut tree and we get to shout “Oh NO!” This one also gets repeated reads, but his enthusiasm for anything alphabet-related make those well worth it.

Each Peach Pear Plum by Allan and Janet Ahlberg
An oldie but a goodie, this book follows familiar nursery rhyme characters while helping your wee one practice his or her rhyming skills during a game of “eye spy.” The illustrations have great detail (honestly, you don’t even need to read the book to enjoy it) and it will surely be one that your kid will have memorized in no time (as will you).

What we can’t wait to share

The Jolly Christmas Postman by Allan and Janet Ahlberg
The authors of Each Peach Pear Plum are back with another delightful and creative story here, but it’s definitely for kids with a bit more self control. Your child will get a kick out of reading “letters” written by one nursery rhyme character to another, particularly because the notes are tucked in the book into actual envelopes. This one is sure to keep little imaginations (and fingers) busy and content.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
My husband has fond (yes, he used the word “fond’) memories of his mother reading this to him, and he can’t wait to share it with our son. Plus, the clever wordplay and metaphors keep things interesting for parents, as well.

The Witches by Roald Dahl
We’re fans of anything by Roald Dahl in this house, but The Witches is hands down our favorite. Sure, it’s a little gruesome, but that makes it a great book for parents to read aloud to their kids because it gives them a chance to address real vs. imaginary and that, well, bad things happen sometimes.

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
Should a little sibling ever come along, we know this classic tale of Peter Hatcher’s struggles with his younger brother Fudge will help JR find humor in the chaos.

The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander
This series is a winner in our book (ha!) for two reasons: 1) it falls into the fantasy genre which will hopefully be conducive to some father-son bonding, and 2) it tells the story of a boy who goes from “assistant pig keeper” to hero. We’re all about exposing our son to anything that tells the story of overcoming obstacles, as is the case with most parents.

Ok, your turn

What are we missing? What books to your kids go ga-ga over? What stories do you look forward to sharing with them?

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Patience Salgado

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