My name is Hanna and I have a children’s book problem. I cannot seem to quit buying them or checking them out from our local library. I guess there are worse problems to have, right? I love the gorgeous illustrations, the smell of an old (or new) book, the beautiful way a children’s story is told and weaved together, and the humor of a good tale.
This list includes ten favorites that we own in our collection either from my childhood, gifted to us, or purchased on our own. These are books that are picked out constantly for reading times and have been well loved over the years. I’ve included links to extension activities that I thought would be fun to use alongside the book if you happen to love it as much as we do!
1. Each Peach Pear Plum
This was an absolute favorite of my childhood, and I’ve probably read it over a hundred times to my own children. It’s such a sweet, beautifully illustrated, engaging book to read. As you read the book, the child is encouraged through each page and rhyme to find the fairy tale or nursery rhyme character hiding on each page until the very end where they all come together and eat plum pie! I want to live in whatever land this is set in, and of course it always makes me hungry for some sort of homemade dessert!
- Make mini-plum pies
- Make a pretend pie with your littles
- Additional ideas for before, during, and after reading
2. The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear
This is hands down my all-time favorite children’s book from my childhood. It was first published the year after I was born. My kids love it too. It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve read it, if you use just the right amount of suspenseful animation and inflection, you will get them riled up every time. This book is written from the perspective of the narrator (you, the reader) as a character having a conversation with the little mouse. The narrator warns the little mouse about the dangers of picking a red, ripe strawberry because “the BIG HUNGRY BEAR” will “smell it a mile away”! Oh no!! What must we do?!?! My kids love the suspense and silliness as the narrator (you) convinces the mouse of the only thing that must be done to save that strawberry from the big, hungry bear. I won’t give it away… but this is a must have in your home library! Also, appropriate for Christmas is the follow up story of Merry Christmas, Big Hungry Bear!
- Suggested ways for engaging with the story
- Have your child narrate the story with this free printable
- TONS of TpT options for extension activities
3. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is, for good reason, a favorite of many children both young and old. The sing-song rhyming that the authors utilize to teach the alphabet, along with the climax of the letters all toppling out of the coconut tree, really keep the readers engaged in the fun and silly plot. My kids love looking at all the letters after they have fallen out of the tree, to see if the description of their injuries matches up to the written text. I like that it includes the whole alphabet at the end with both the upper and lower case letters. We actually own two copies: a shorter length board book (leaves off the end of the book) and the full length version.
4. Little Blue Truck
Okay, if you are not already on the Little Blue Truck train, you need to get ON IT! Alice Schertle has written 10+ books featuring this endearing little blue truck, and my sons especially have been here for it all! Currently my two year old is in love with them and requests at least one or two of them each evening. The original two books teach wonderful character traits of patience, putting others first, and helping those in need (maybe even if they treat you poorly at first). Her other books touch on fear of storms and safety with friends, all the cute baby farm animals in spring time, and several others that we don’t own (yet) including Valentines + Halloween themed books. She also has a couple yet to be released! One of our favorites though is Little Blue Truck’s Christmas… I won’t spoil the surprise, but it’s a magical ending!
- SUPER cute Little Blue Truck DIY for story play
- Activity, party, and event kits to go along with the books
5. Dear Zoo
We received this book as a gift from a friend when our oldest was around two years old. I had never heard of it before then. It’s a really fun lift-the-flap book, which goes through the process of choosing a suitable pet for the reader. It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve read this book, my children love taking turns pulling the flap down to reveal the next animal and then reading why it isn’t a suitable pet for the reader. Rod Campbell also has another really sweet farm lift-the-flap book that we own called Oh, Dear. A little boy is sent out with the task of collecting eggs for his grandmother, but cannot remember where to get them from. So you go around the farm with him searching in all the animal’s homes until…. you guessed it, he figures it out!
A quick google search will offer you TONS of ideas to use with this book, but here are a handful that I found super cute… and FREE!
- Extension and play ideas
- World Book Day activity pack PDF
- Animated and narrated (by the author!) video
- Super cute story play idea
- Adorable craft to compliment the book
6. Goodnight Moon
I know that this book can be highly contested as it can seem a bit trippy, but I just adore it. Weird color palette and all. My children have loved it as well. It was the first children’s book that I bought before I was even married. It was a favorite of my own childhood. It’s a calming story that I feel like, if read appropriately, eases your child into a sleepy lull and sets the tone for going to bed peacefully. Whatever our lineup of books for the evening, if this is in the stack to read, I always read it last. We read it slowly, point out the items referred to on the page, and wave at each as we say goodnight. (Did you know there is a little mouse on every colored page? My youngest loves to find him as we read along.)
- Fun memory game and other go-along activities
- Before FIAR (Five in a Row) activities with Goodnight Moon
7. The Little House
I absolutely adore this book. Again, one of my all-time favorites from my own childhood. I love, love, love getting to share stories with my children that I loved as a child. It’s like passing on a sweet secret. This book shares the story of a quaint home in the country who sits watching as the seasons change and as the city, once far off, encroaches closer and closer. The progress threatens to completely envelop the sweet little house until one fateful day… a great-great-granddaughter of the original occupant sees it and decides to move it out into the country once again. It’s beautifully told, and if I’m being honest, has brought me to tears more than once. I love stories of redemption like this!
8. Bread and Jam for Frances
Do you have one of those kids who likes to eat about 1-3 things tops ALL the time? Not keen on trying new things? This story is for you. The copy we own is from my childhood collection and it’s picked out time and time again by my children. Frances loves bread and jam, she wants it for every meal… even when much more exciting meals are offered by mother. So her mother gets creative and comes up with a plan to change her daughter’s mind about eating the same thing all the time. She allows her to eat bread and jam for every meal. She doesn’t even offer other things, just makes her favorite for breakfast, packed lunch, after-school snack, and dinner. With each meal as the day progresses, Frances gets a little less excited about her favorite food. By the end, the result her mother was expecting comes to fruition. Frances asks for the meal that her family is eating without her! She is finally excited about trying new things! It’s on the longer side, but my kids enjoy seeing Frances come around in the end. Now, will it make your kid an adventurous eater? I don’t know… but it’s worth a shot, right?
- Fun, simple recipes recreated from the story
- Extension activities to go along with the book
- Sweet, simple preschool craft
- Bread and Jam for Frances unit study and printables
- Printable game and story summary
What favorites list would be complete without this children’s classic? The bright, beautiful illustrations, fun rhymes, and fearless little red-headed main character are enough to keep the kids asking for it to be read over and over again. I also love that we can talk about Paris, France and all the things that are different from our own culture. A Walk in Paris by Salvatore Rubbino would be a great go-along book to use to talk about the setting of Madeline. I also stumbled upon this activity/sticker book and thought it was super cute.
- Several support materials for doing alongside the book
- Literature unit study
- Fun + games on the official Madeline website
- Five in a Row unit study ideas
10. The Seven Silly Eaters
We love this book! My sister-in-law gifted it to us several years ago, and it quickly became a crowd favorite! My children love the quick-paced rhyming, the fact that they share names with some of the characters, and the silliness that ensues when Mrs. Peters attempts to make each child exactly what each of them prefers every. single. day. Talk about one tired mama! It all works out in the end as you will see, but this hilarious picture book is one for your home library! There weren’t a ton of extension activities on the internet to be found, but here are two recipes for making your own “Mrs. Peter’s birthday cake” at home!
Honorable Mention: There’s NO Such Thing as a Dragon
What generally happens when you ignore a problem or something that you think doesn’t exist? The problem gets bigger, doesn’t it? The thing you think doesn’t exist, creates an actual roadblock in your life. Those are deep subjects for a children’s book, but I believe the author’s intent of this story is that you need to actually acknowledge issues before they grow out of control. Face the fear, or whatever it may be, and deal with it appropriately so that it doesn’t take over. This silly book about ignoring a tiny dragon that appears to the boy one day, takes the reader through the family’s denial of it’s existence until it grows and takes over the house and wreaks havoc. All is resolved when the family finally acknowledges the dragon’s authenticity and it shrinks back to it’s initial small stature. I enjoyed this book so much growing up, and I introduced it to my children sometime in the last year. They loved it too!
I could not really find any useful activities to go with this book, but maybe it can open up a discussion about things in our own lives, and those of our children that may need to be addressed and talked about in a safe and loving environment. Those things we like to push down and ignore until one day when it is even more challenging to handle.
What are some of your all-time favorite children’s books? Those that you read your whole childhood, and have now passed on to your children? Those that have been read at least 100 times a piece? I would love to hear! As I said, I have a problem and I’m not fixing it. ❤︎
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