Monday, January 24, 2022

Picture Books We've Loved Recently

I talk a lot about what I read on this blog and while I mention the kids' reading in passing, I thought it would be fun to highlight books Paul has loved lately! But first, I thought I'd talk about how I find books for him to read, which is a combination of research and serendipity! 

This post focuses on what I've been finding for Paul. Will likes books, but I think he is slightly less interested in them than Paul was at this age, but maybe I am misremembering? We read to Will daily, but outside of bed/naptime, the book needs to be interactive with flaps and things to touch to hold his attention. Which is of course completely normal and something his pediatrician mentioned at his one-year appointment when I mentioned he isn't as interested in books as Paul was. Hopefully with time he'll be more and more drawn to books!

How I find books for the boys:

First off, while I do buy books for the boys for Christmas and birthdays, most of the books we read to Paul come from the library. I haven't counted, but Phil will tell you we own hundreds of kids books. He's probably right. We have received most of the books as gifts, though (books are the best gifts for kids IMO!). At my baby shower, my mom and sisters asked that people bring a book instead of a card - which is the best idea ever in my opinion and something I think I may have suggested to them after seeing other do this. I love when I come upon an inscription in a book from my baby shower! Most of the books we own have been read multiple times, especially the board books. But many of the picture books get re-read as well, especially the ones that are upstairs in Paul's room as that's what he chooses from at bedtime. 

But as Paul has gotten older, he's less interested in re-reading a book unless it's something he really really loves, and that is impossible to predict. For example, “Santa” bought him 2 chapter books for Christmas, which he hasn't taken interest in yet, and 2 Mo Willems books, which he has read once... So I am kind of 0/4 on picking hits for Christmas, but hopefully that will change with time. So it makes the most sense to get books at the library. But how do I select what I check out? 

1. This is a super helpful website for readers of all ages! Every month they post an Indie Next List which is a selection of new releases that were recommended by independent book sellers. I look at this every month to get idea of what I would like to read. But they also post a Next List for kids every other month. It's organized by age (picture books, Middle Grade, YA, etc). When they post a new list, I request every picture book.

2. Local bookstores. We have a fabulous local kids bookstore called "Wild Rumpus" that is another great source for books. When I bought the kids' Christmas books, I picked up book they publish with kid book recommendations and I requested pretty much every book the recommended from the library. But they also have a section on their website with bookseller recommendations. 

3. Newsletters. I subscribe to a number of book-related newsletters. Can We Read by Sarah Miller has been a great source for picture book recommendations. She has a paid subscription newsletter, but I subscribe to the free one at this point.

3. Serendipity. After I have grabbed our holds from the hold shelf, I will wonder through the kids section and grab books that catch my eye. I typically come home with 10-20 books for Paul. There are lots of misses, but there have been some wins, too! Sometimes we read a book and think - how did this get published, though!! Like some are laughably bad. 

Great books we've read recently:

Andrea Beaty/David Roberts Books: If you have young children, you've likely heard of these books. They are EXCELLENT but what I especially enjoy about them is that they rhyme! Rhyming books are my absolute favorite to read. We've read the 3 above, but also Sophia Valdez, Future Prez which might have been my favorite of the bunch!

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett/Jon Klassen: I discovered this book from the Can We Read newsletter. It's about a little girl who knits sweaters for all the people in her community and then just keeps going and knits for vehicles, animals, houses, etc. We own 3 books by the illustrator (The Hat Books) which are excellent! Paul got really excited when he saw a character from one of the hat books in this book!

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein: This falls under the category of books I enjoyed more than Paul! It's about a father who is reading classic children's books to his son, but his son keeps interrupting to warns the character about what is to come - for example he tells Chicken Little to not panic because the sky is indeed not falling. Paul wasn't familiar enough with the classic stories to see the humor in the book, but I greatly enjoyed reading it, and he asked me to read it multiple times so must have enjoyed it, even if he didn't fully understand it!

Negative Cat by Sophie Blackall: This is about a family that adopts a cat from the shelter, but the cat is kind moody. But then they figure out that the cat loves being read to. It's based on a true story of a group of elementary students that went to cat shelters to read to cats. How sweet is that?

I could go on and on, but I'll stop there! I'll close by saying that I'm pretty envious of my boys' access to the library. I grew up in a tiny town of 500 people and we did not have a public library! There was obviously a library at school so I checked out tons of books during the school year. But in the summer, I did not have access to a library! We had lots of books in our home and I always got books for Christmas and birthdays and could talk my mom into buying books at B. Dalton at the mall. But it's not the same as having a library where I could have checked out hundreds of books over the course of the summer! I really amped up my usage of the library in the past year and now Paul will ask me to request books from the library. He loves it when a book has pictures of other books by the author on the back or on the dust cover. He will tell me which ones we have or have read by that author and tells me which ones to request from the library. So yay libraries!! When our kids are older and I feel less spread thin, my goal is to try to get a seat on the library board! 

Have you read any good kids books lately? Are there any sources of book recommendations you would recommend? 


Elisabeth said...

I am obsessed (my husband sometimes comments he can't believe how passionate I am about picture books and it's true; in my dream job I get to read and work with picture books all day) and even though my kids are older I still insist on reading picture books and they love them.
We have read so many good books lately...I'll post a bunch of them next week or two in a big roundup post which will be a very niche topic, but I think picture books don't get enough credit. I love how they handle huge topics at such a thoughtful level. That said, I regularly wonder "How did this book ever get published?!" Some are just downright terrible. But I guess books are a matter of personal preference, so perhaps they are just the book someone else needed...maybe? Some are just objectively awful.
And we all really enjoyed Negative Cat. So cute.
I used to get ideas from book lists; I do this some, but mostly I just browse new purchases from the library (easy to access this information via their website), wander through the stacks when I go to get our holds and order in books by authors/illustrators we've already loved. At this point, that casts a huge net as we've read thousands of picture books over the last decade.
A few years ago I added a kids-lit shelf to my Goodreads and anything we agree is a 4 or 5 star book, I add to that shelf. I don't add a "read" date so it doesn't go toward book tallies, but I just really wanted a way that I could keep track of our favourites because they are such a deep passion for me.

Jeanie said...

Do you follow Deb at Readerbuzz? She's a librarian (I think a children's librarian by the number of kids books she reads). I'm not familiar with any of these. If we saw the boys all the time, it would be easier. In fact, at dinner last night I was saying I didn't know what to get him in books because I didn't know what they had. I'm not even sure KevMo know what all they have! They do have a good library and that's a plus. I might ask about these four when we finally see them again.

NGS said...

When I buy presents for my nieces and nephews, I always get them something they ask for and then I give them a book or two. Now that they are getting older, they've started recommending books to me and it's so exciting!!! I love that I've helped to instill a love of reading in them and I hope that they continue to love to read as they get older.

Suzanne said...

Oh my gosh - Extra Yarn is one of my favorites! We haven't read that one in much too long.

Some of my favorite picture books (and, okay, my daughter loved them too!) are The Skunk (also by Mac Barnett), I Am a Cat by Galia Bernstein, and Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown. This is making me nostalgic -- I wonder if my daughter would let me read a few picture books tonight, instead of the Mac Barnett chapter book we're reading?

Stephany said...

I loooove giving picture books as gifts. And puzzles! Those are always my go-to present options for kids. You just can't go wrong with either option!

I don't know if Thriftbooks sells children's books, but I love that site for cheap, gently used books for myself. I love that I can get five or so books for just $20! It's my fave.

Anonymous said...

Big orange Splot. By Daniel Pinkwater

Shoshanah said...

We love all the Iggy Peck books too! The kids are actually watching the Netflix show of it right now. Funny enough Extra Yarn was one of the books I bought for the holidays but one no one has wanted to read yet.

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

I get kid book recommendations from Here Wee Read. She has a podcast that is good too. I also get recommendations thru goodreads on the if you read this, you may like this.. I cant think off the top of my head now, but I follow a lot of people on instagram that are in the book world so that is probably my main source. I used to wander the library to pick them out too. Change Sings by Amanda Gorman is beautifully illustrated and sooo good. We also like Dragons Love Tacos, The Day Crayon quits, If I built a car, Mo Willems books, Pete the Cat, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, and more. I cannot stand the llama llama books.