Monday, January 25, 2010

Our Favourite Family Reads

We're starting simple in our celebration of Family Literacy Day/Week. To kick it off, I bring you a list of our favourite books to read to our eight month-old daughter.

Though first, I'll have you know that she now has two favourite books of her own and they are Rainbow Fun and All About Me: A Baby's Guide to Babies. Sometimes she will only not cry if she is holding/eating/being read Rainbow Fun, and no other book will do. She laughs hysterically throughout A Baby's Guide to Babies. This absolutely kills me. Text is not foremost in either of these books though, so the books we like best to read to her are a little different. And they are as follows:

1) Peepo by Janet & Allan Ahlberg: I love the rhythm, I love the rhymes. I love bedroom mirror with its rainbow rim, and a mother with a baby just like him. And you could find something new hidden in the illustrations with every reread.

2) Where is the Green Sheep by Mem Fox: We've started banging on a drum during story time, and this book has the best beat poet vibe. I have given this book to every child I know. My favourite is the moon sheep and the star sheep, and Stuart loves the near and far sheep. It never gets old, or at least it hasn't yet.

3) I Kissed the Baby by Mary Murphy: It's short with strong drawings in black and white, which made it ideal for when Harriet was smaller. It's question/answer structure makes it fun to read in dialogue. I love to say, "Of course, I kissed the baby. My own amazing baby." Indeed.

4) Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers: Harriet always laughs at the "Every day, everywhere, babies make noise" page. We kind of like the book because it has same-sex families, and we get to feel liberal and superior to those who gave it one-star ratings on amazon for that same reason. It also has a wonderful sing-song rhythm to it, adorable pictures, and an ending that makes me cry, crediting baby-people for "for trying so hard, for travelling so far, for being so wonderful, just as they are."

5) Ten Little Fingers Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox: Though I fear that this book might alienate readers with six toes on one foot, or with three thumbs, anyone with twenty digits will find this Mem Fox/Helen Oxenbury collaboration completely adorable. Page breaks in all the right places allow for optimum emphasis, narrative underlines that babies are delicious the world over, and babies learn about fingers, toes, and then receive three little kisses on their noses.

5) The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch: We have an abridged, indestructable board book version that is perfect for story time. Hoping our daughter takes home the message of one enterprising princess, and how she "didn't get married after all."

6) Night Cars by Teddy Jam: We love this story of an urban baby who wouldn't go to sleep, and is the reason I can often be found warning garbagemen to "be careful near that dream." Stuart particularly likes that Dad is the primary parent in this one, and that it ends with Baby asleep in his arms, albeit in the morning.

7) Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown: This is the mommy version of Night Cars at our house. I love reading it, making the "shhh" sounds (though I am often frightened by the eerie lights on in the dollhouse). And the cow jumping over the moon picture, because that was Harriet's first nursery rhyme.

8) The Lady with the Alligator Purse by Nadine Bernard Westcott: A hilarious story of three-tiered healthcare, with pizza as the best medicine. It's weird and joyful, and we read it like a song.

9) Kisses Kisses Baby-O by Sheree Fitch: I love the "Shhh, hush time. Snuggle huggle..." page the best, which features a beautiful picture of a baby breastfeeding (though unlike my baby, that one doesn't appear to be biting). Fitch manipulates language in her signature style, and the result is sheer delight. Part lullaby, part poem, and all love song.

10) On the Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier: Because of the illustrations with strong contrast and bright colours, because everything in it is true, and because it puts Baby at the centre of the universe. My favourite is the promise from gravity "that you would never float away."

So those are mine. What are yours, for babies or kids that are bigger?