These are our favorite classics.
- Little Fur Family by Margaret Wise Brown has the best opening line: “There was a little fur family warm as toast smaller than most in little fur coats and they lived in a warm wooden tree.” <mic drop>. I love everything about this book. I love how they wear fur coats over their fur; I love that the fur child finds an even tinier version of himself in the woods; and I love the fur father’s expression during the family sing-a-long (thanks to Garth Williams, who also illustrated Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web, and — wait for it — the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder). SOLD.
- Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault packs a lot into one imaginative story. It’s creative, educational, and it rhymes the whole time. Who doesn’t want to know what happens to the lowercase letters of a personified alphabet that climbs coconut trees to the point of destruction? Riveting.
- The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown is brilliant. Clever parent convinces her child to stay home and eat his vegetables through the power of love and conversation? #parentingwin (Margaret Wise Brown also wrote Goodnight Moon — did she ever write a bad children’s book?)
- Richard Scarry’s The Bunny Book by Patricia M. and Richard Scarry is a surprisingly progressive portrayal of a boy’s goals for the future and the role of fatherhood for 1955. It also depicts a large extended family as all rabbit books should because rabbits are so prolific.
- Bear on a Bike by Stella Blackstone is just plain fun to read because of the repetition, rhyming, and colorful illustrations. We checked this out from the library and read about Bear traveling the world in a variety of things-that-go more times than was necessary. Also, “Stella Blackstone” has to be a pseudonym; it’s just too cool.
- Ten Apples Up On Top! by Theo. LeSieg (Dr. Suess) is — in my personal opinion — not a children’s book but an old-school rap. Am I saying I rap instead of read this book to my child? Uh, yes. Try reading this without sounding like an early 90s hip-hop artist: “I am so good. I will not stop. Five! Now six! Now seven on top! Seven apples up on top. I am so good they will not drop. Five, six, seven! Fun, fun, fun! Seven, six, five, four, three, two, one!”
- The Lorax by Dr. Suess is the classic story for the environmentally-conscious parent, and despite the bizarrely surreal Suessian tradition of Jabberwockian word play, it is all too real. It’s one of those books that is talking directly to the adults while entertaining the kids with things like Truffula trees, Bar-ba-loot suits, and the clearly unnecessary accessory, the Thneed.
- Corduroy (and A Pocket for Corduory) by Don Freeman is the most delightful portrayal of innocence, curiosity, and a bear’s need for proper fashion. What I think makes Corduroy’s adventures stand out is the fact that the settings are familiar, but Corduroy shows them from a different perspective: he wanders the mall at night and ends up inside a dryer at the laundromat! These are things we’re curious about as children that aren’t worlds away.
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle just never gets old. It just doesn’t. I always think it’s going to, but when I start reading it, I’m in love with it all over again. Even though I know what is going to happen to the caterpillar after eating all the best foods, the page where he’s revealed as a butterfly is glorious. It’s got to be the art. The unique art medium just never fails to be awesome.
- …and anything by Beatrix Potter because Beatrix does not suffer fools. If a character makes a bad decision, there is a consequence. Whenever I read a Beatrix Potter book, I think of the knight in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade saying, “He chose…poorly.”
What are your favorite children’s book classics?