Tag: board books

12 Books for Babies and Toddlers and Why They Work

12 Books for Babies and Toddlers and Why They Work

Earlier this month, I Pray Today, my second book for babies and toddler was published. Today is the last day of the blog tour to celebrate.

I’ve been working on book reviews all year, though. Each month I gather up a few books I love and share them with my readers. I call it Kidlit Karma. This month I’m sharing some of my favorite books for babies and toddlers. I’m also going to dive into child development to explain why these books work.

 

Simple Art

Babies can’t see that well. Newborns’ vision is hazy – they like high contrast because it’s easy to see. You’ll often find the youngest babies staring at, say, a black object against a white background. Or a dark ceiling fan moving against a white ceiling.

By a few months old, babies vision has improved a lot but they often have a hard time understanding 2-D representations of objects.

So, books for babies and toddler often have high-contrast, easy-to-interpret pictures. For the youngest, single images on white backgrounds can be a good choice.

Book cover: RhymOceros

Rhymoceros by Janik Coat

 

Even for toddlers, simple graphics are easier for them to understand.

Book Cover: Wee Beasties: Huggy the Python Hugs Too Hard

Wee Beasties: Huggy the Python Hugs Too Hard by Ame Dyckman and Alex Griffiths

 

Faces Are a Fave

Babies love faces for pretty much the same reasons we adults do: they give us a lot of important information. We look at a person’s face to identify them and to tell what that person is feeling. Watching someone’s face while they talk also helps us figure out what they are saying. For babies who are still learning speech, it’s doubly helpful. That’s probably why babies are hardwired to stare at faces.

So books with lots of faces are a winner, especially with the younger babies and toddlers.

Book Cover: Making Faces: A First Book of Emotion

Making Faces: A First Book of Emotions

 

Babytalk and Rhyming Books

Babies love “baby talk” and it’s good for them. Forget what Great Aunt Bertha told you about only talking to your baby like a grown-up. Baby talk exaggerates the sounds of speech which makes it easier for babies to figure out the sounds they’re hearing and put those together into words. So go ahead and talk to babies in whatever way feels natural to you.

The sing-songy cadence of many rhyming books, help capitalize on this tendency. (Writers: be aware that babies are not less discerning than adults. If you write in rhyme, it needs to have PERFECT rhyme and meter.)

Book Cover: Moo Baa La La La

Moo, Baa, La La La! by Sandra Boynton

 

Repetition

Babies love repetition. They drop the same toy over and over to see if dad will still pick it up, they never tire of peekaboo, and they will gladly have you read the same book over and over and over. While at times it’s infuriating (like the 5th time the bowl of oatmeal gets dropped to the floor), it has an important purpose: babies and toddlers learn best through repetition.  Like little scientists, they’re testing if the oatmeal really drops every time. They’re also learning social information: “Will dad pick it up every time?” “Why is his mood changing as I keep dropping this?”

So many books use some kind of repetition: like the repeated phrase “Ciao!”

Book Cover: Ciao, Baby! In the Park

Ciao, Baby! In the Park by Carole Lexa Shaefer and Lauren Tobia

Or a repeated action like “besos.” (Kisses.)

Book Cover: Besos for Baby a Little Book of Kisses

Besos for Baby: A Little Book of Kisses by Jen Arena and Blanca Gomez

 

Toddlers Need to Move

Speaking of actions, getting a toddler to sit still is a lost cause. They’re busy little beings. It’s easy to read with an immobile baby – harder to keep a toddler still and focused. So many books for toddlers include some kind invitation to action to help keep them engaged with the book. 

That could be an action built right into the page, such as lifting a flap or holes designed for little fingers to poke into.

Book cover: Do Cows Meow?

Do Cows Meow? by Salina Yoon

Or it could be an invitation to action: mentioning movement is a natural invitation to move.

Book cover: Barnyard Dance!

Barnyard Dance! by Sandra Boynton

 

Sturdy Pages and Rounded Corners

Babies will put pretty much everything into their mouth. It’s a way for them to explore the world by adding the sense of taste and touch (lips and tongues are very sensitive).

Babies and toddlers are also still working on fine motor skills – such as the ability to grasp and flip a book page without tearing. They need to explore the world and practice these fine motor skills – but it can be murder on a book.

So most baby and toddler books are board books – those chunky cardboard-style book pages that can withstand chewing, banging, other forms of baby love. They even have rounded corners to prevent an eye or mouth from being poked.

Photo of book: Goodnight Jesus with corner chewed off by toddler
Photo courtesy of Summer Kinard at https://summerkinard.com/2016/11/02/goodnight-jesus-board-book-review/

 

Adults Have to Like Them Too

Since your baby will be asking to reread the same book 10,000 times (and they will), books also have to please the adult doing the reading. A newer trend is to write book series’ that focus on topics of interest to a parent (like science, great literature, etc.), but at a level simplistic enough for a baby. No, your toddler won’t be doing astrophysics calculations in their crib. They’re in it for the baby faces and birdies, but the parent can appreciate the science.

Book Cover: Baby Loves Aerospace Engineering

Baby Loves Aerospace Engineering by Ruth Spiro

Book Cover: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: A Babylit Colors Primer

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: A Babylit Colors Primer by Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver

Putting It All Together

Most books will have a few of these features. Take my two books, Goodnight Jesus and I Pray Today.

Book Cover: Goodnight Jesus

Goodnight Jesus has:

  • beautiful, but simple art
  • faces on nearly every page (yay, icons!)
  • sing-songy rhymes
  • a repeated action (kissing) that little readers can do
  • sturdy pages

Book Cover: I Pray Today

I Pray Today has:

  • beautiful, simple art
  • faces on every page
  • sing-songy rhymes
  • a repeated phrase (Lord have mercy.)
  • which can be an invitation to a repeated action (saying the prayer and making a cross)
  • sturdy pages

And like a baby book on astrophysics, both of mine have bigger ideas at their core. That gives them a long lifespan for little readers and makes it interesting for the adult readers.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s book tour! I’ve had fun writing on a lot of different topics on a lot of different blogs. If you missed them, you can still find them here:

Blog tour for "I PRAY TODAY"

 

Blog Tour for I Pray Today

Blog tour for "I PRAY TODAY"

Big news! A couple of weeks ago my second book, I Pray Today, was published by Ancient Faith Press. And next week I’m celebrating with a blog tour. I’ll be visiting blogs of fellow Orthodox writers and bloggers and covering a wide variety of topics:

  • Parenting
  • Teaching with children’s books
  • Prayer
  • Family life
  • Writing

Sign up now for daily emails linking to the day’s post.

You can also follow along on Twitter by following me at @aisaacswrites or look for the hashtag #ipraytoday

So where will I be?

I’m super excited, so I hope you’ll join us!

 

New Book: I Pray Today! and How Authors Feel on Their Book birthday

Book "I Pray Today" on a white background with flowers

Today is the day! My second ever book is officially published. It’s a real book that you can buy over at the Ancient Faith Store.

 

There aren’t really words to convey how I feel, so today’s post is brought to you by gifs.

 

This is how it feels to be an author on your book birthday:

Book birthdays are exciting.

Little girl with huge smile

Authors feel a bit too excited.

But you also know you wouldn’t have gotten here without help. A LOT of help. So you’re feeling a bit misty about all the supportive family members, critique partners, beta readers, editors, illustrators, art directors, and marketing people who made this happen.

So you spend the whole day just wanting to hug the universe and thank them that this amazing thing happened.

Woman drawing a heart in the air

And at some point, someone will say something nice about your book. “Cute cover!” “Congrats!” “Can’t wait to read it!” Whatever it is, you feel overwhelmed that people care about a thing you made.

But if you write for kids, the best days are still to come. Every single time a parent tells you that their kid loves your book. Or shares a picture of a kid reading it. Or leaves a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Every. Single. Time, your heart will well up bigger than the Grinch.

Video from grinch movie: Grinch sliding down a hill while an x-ray screen shows that his heart is growing in size.

And it literally never gets old. Ever.

 

BUY I PRAY TODAY

200+ Children’s Book Reviews

200+ Children's Book Reviews

I love reviewing connecting people with books almost as much as I love reading them. That’s one reason I review so many books here on my blog. And since I’ve started doing my Kidlit Karma project, I’m doing a lot more reviews.

Just one problem: it’s not that easy to find things here on the old blog.

So if you need, say, a nonfiction book for a tween – sure I’ve got it. …Somewhere… Something had to be done.

Now I’ve created a master page for all my book reviews. Yay!

It’s sorted in two ways:

  1. Ages and stages – this includes age ranges like baby, child, tween, teen, and adult. It also includes stages like early reading.
  2. Topics – Jump here to get a collected list of all STEM, nonfiction, diverse books, and books for writers. Within each topic they’re sorted by age to make things easy.

So, go forth and find a book to read!

 

CHECK IT OUT

5 Surprising Things About Publishing A Children’s Book

5 Surprising things about publishing a children's book

In two months, my second book for children, I PRAY TODAY, will be published by Ancient Faith Press. When I did this the first time with GOODNIGHT JESUS, there were things that surprised me about the process.

How many of these did you know?

 

1. BOOK PUBLISHING TAKES A LONG TIME

FLORIS BOOKS - Inforgraphic flowchart of the publishing process

 

I wrote the first draft of GOODNIGHT JESUS when my oldest daughter was a year old. By the time it was published, she was six. That’s not uncommon.

I wasn’t totally unprepared for this. Before I started writing for children, I was an PhD student. Academic publishing is notoriously slow. When I submitted research papers for review, I had to wait 6 to 9 months for a response.

Then I was a freelance writer working with textbook publishers. Even though I wasn’t writing the textbook, I got an idea of how involved the process is. I dealt with editors, copyeditors, the person who checks copyrights, the contractors drawing the diagrams, the fact checkers, the authors, … The lists goes on.

Floris books put together an infographic flowchart above to show just how involved the publishing process is. And this isn’t even for an illustrated children’s book. My editor Jane Meyer who also authors her own children’s books shared a blog post showing the process for a children’s book. Because the artwork is so important to illustrated children’s books, the process is more involved and more expensive than for an adult book.

In the children’s book market, two years from acceptance to published book is a good turn around. GOODNIGHT JESUS was around 2.5 years from acceptance to publication. I PRAY TODAY will be 1.5 years. Understand that it takes time for everyone to do their jobs at every step of the process. No, that doesn’t make it any easier to be patient.

Also, if you ask me how the book is going, don’t be surprised if I have no idea.

 

2. YOU DON’T GET TO PICK THE ILLUSTRATOR – AND THAT’S OK

Goodnight Jesus interior pages

One thing that consistently surprises people is that children’s book author’s don’t pick their illustrator. Not every publishing house or every editor does things the same, but this is consistent. Someone at the publishing house – an editor or art director usually – picks the illustrator.

The author also doesn’t get a lot of say over what the images will look like. So if the editor thinks your story is best told with space aliens instead of the bunnies you envisioned, then you get aliens. Maybe you had pictured your story taking place in a big house in the country, but the illustrator draws it as a big city apartment.

Editors also get cranky if you include too many art notes (notes specify what the illustration should look like on a page). So unless you need a specific image for the text to make sense, leave out the art notes. In GOODNIGHT JESUS there was just one art note. The line “A kiss for George – reach higher!” doesn’t make much sense without the art note: “Child is too short to reach the icon.” That’s it. The only art note in the whole thing. Yes really.

Most writers cringe at the thought of losing control of their story like this. And most readers are flabbergasted as to how you get a coherent story that way. But believe me when I say that 999 times out of 1000, it works out.

Here’s the thing: editors, art directors, and illustrators are really good at their jobs. They can envision artwork that will not just compliment your story but actually make it better. When I envisioned GOODNIGHT JESUS, I imagined a child interacting with static icons. One of the other brilliant people came up with the idea to put the baby right there in Jesus’s arms. It makes these people alive and engaging. It’s also a powerful statement of faith and child-like perception. And it’s something I never would have thought of.

As hard as it is for authors to give up the control, it frees the illustrator and art director to come up with their own vision. Would they have thought of this if I had laid out my vision in explicit detail? Probably not.

So I’ve learned to sit back and watch in awe as these people work their magic. And I feel super appreciative that they are making my work look so good.

 

3. HOW MUCH WORK I HAD AFTER THE MANUSCRIPT WAS ACCEPTED

My manuscript was accepted! Time to sip wine and wait for the checks to roll in, right?

No.

Not at all.

No matter how perfectly polished you think your story is, something will need to change. 

Look back at the inforgraphic in #1. See how many times it says that the author is doing something. Yeah.

For awhile your manuscript will disappear into the publishing black hole as it works it’s way through the invisible stages of publishing. But soon enough, they’ll be putting you to work. First comes the editor’s take: a marked-up version of your manuscript with notes about unclear passages, weak words, and bumpy meter, for instance. Even in my super sort manuscripts, there were changes to be made. Once I finished the edits, it went back into the black hole for a bit longer.

Because GOODNIGHT JESUS and I PRAY TODAY are both board books, they’re very short and had few edits to make. (I still find it weird to submit a “book” that’s shorter than some of my grocery lists. But I digress.)

Eventually, it lands on the desk of the copyeditor who inevitably finds a whole pile of missed commas, punctuation errors, and other silly mistakes. They send me a corrected version and ask me to look over it. I cringe at my mistakes and thank all of creation that someone caught them before I got to look like a fool in print. And I work as an editor – it happens to the best of us.

And then the early illustrations are done and they ask for feedback. And then the proofs need to be looked over (digital copies of the pages as they will appear in print). And then… you get the idea.

The exact amount of back and forth depends on the publishing house, but there are always edits to be made and things to do. Instead of feeling defensive when other’s find errors, I think about how awesome it is to have so many people working so hard to make my work the best it can be.

 

4. HOW HARD IT IS TO NOT SHARE THE EARLY ARTWORK

 

This may just be me, but every sneak peek at the artwork makes me super excited. I just want to shout out to the rooftops “I WROTE A THING AND SOMEONE MADE REALLY PRETTY PICTURES FOR IT!” And then I would hold them hostage while I make them look at all the pretty pictures. It’s a little like having a new baby – you have to show everyone just how darn cute it is.

But there’s also this thing called copyright. And marketing plans. And other adult things I’m forgetting that also mean it’s a bad idea for me to post everything on the internet.

So instead I post when I can and save my intense enthusiasm and forced photo appreciation for my immediate family. You’re welcome.

 

5. HOW MUCH WORK THERE IS AFTER THE BOOK IS PUBLISHED

Ok, so my two-ish years are nearly up! The illustrator and all the people at the publishing house have done their magic to make my book as wonderful as possible. It’s being printed out and will soon be a real book!

So now can I sip wine and wait for the checks to roll in?

Uhm, no.

Once upon a few decades ago, a publisher could put out a book and people would just buy it. There are a lot more books being published these days (yay!) which means that there is a lot more competition (boo!). So unless you’re already a household name, expect to spend some time on marketing your new book – a website so your readers can find you, social media so you can keep in touch, connecting with readers through school visits and speaking engagements, … None of these things are strictly required, but they do help potential readers connect with your work. I happen to enjoy such work, so expect to see website changes and social media posts about I PRAY TODAY in the near future.

But hey, soon I can go full fan-girl over this fabulous thing I made. (Or is that just me?)

With two months left before I PRAY TODAY is fully birthed into the world, I’m still having to keep my enthusiasm to myself. But expect to hear a lot more soon.

Big List of Books to Give to Kids, 2017 edition

It’s that time again! Time for me to gush about some of the books I read this year in the hopes you will buy some.

Lucky for you, that makes gift giving easy. Books make great gifts for kids and with so many new and classic books, you can find something for every kid.

I’ve broken down the book recommendations into helpful categories. These let you find books that are appropriate for the age and reading ability of the child. If you want to get into the nitty-gritty of how children’s books are classified, check out this post.

For independent readers, this guide will help you determine if a book is appropriate.

You can also check out the lists for 2015 and 2016.

BOOKS FOR BABIES AND EXPECTANT PARENTS

Baby Loves Aerospace Engineering cover

No one is too young for a book! Nothing says love more than cuddling up in the lap of a grownup and listening to a story. And since reading to children is the number one best thing you can do to promote school success, you’re also making an investment in their future success. These books have stiff, durable pages perfect for the littlest readers.

Baby Loves Aerospace Engineering

Besos for Babies

Goodnight Jesus (You just knew that was coming, right?)

 

FIRST PICTURE BOOKS

Marta Big and Small Cover

These picture books are perfect for kids that are ready to graduate from board books. They have shorter texts (to match short attention spans) but big humor. These are a great fit for preschool through lower elementary.

Marta Big and Small

Sophie’s Squash and the sequel Sophie’s Squash Goes to School

Bitty Bot

Stick and Stone

Water Song

 

PICTURE BOOKS FOR KINDERGARTEN – ELEMENTARY

Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake cover

These texts are a tad longer. Perfect for the slightly older kid that still loves picture books.

Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

Nothing Rhymes with Orange

Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast

Charlotte and the Rock

Great Now We’ve Got Barbarians

READ ALOUD CHAPTER BOOKS FOR PRESCHOOL AND KINDERGARTEN

Kids can begin listening to chapter books as young as preschool or kindergarten. These books have short chapters and pictures can help ease the transition. They’re also free of mature or scary content.

No. 1 Car Spotter

Winnie the Pooh and while you’re at it read about the true story behind the fictional bear in Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear

BOOKS FOR NEW READERS

Is That Wise Pig cover

These books are great for kids that are still learning to read. These are arranged from easiest to hardest. Choose the one that seems just right or a little ahead of where your reader is currently.

Is That Wise Pig? and Jan Thomas’s other books are always a big hit with my kids.

 

Ballet Cat: What’s Your Favorite Favorite?

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea

 

BOOKS FOR KIDS THAT DON’T LIKE TO READ

Catstronauts: Mission Moon cover

Comics and graphic novels have been the gateway to reading for many kids. Apparently, I didn’t read many graphic novels this year, but what I lack in numbers I make up for with quality. I love all the books in this series (and stalk Drew Brockington’s twitter to find out when there will be more).

Castronauts: Mission Moon

 

BIG BOOKS FOR BIG KIDS

Wonder cover

The one category where I read significantly more than in any previous year: middle grade. Middle grade is the term for upper elementary to middle school readers. I tried to thin down this list. I really did. But…. I can’t. #sorrynotsorry To help you sort through, I’ve added the genre of each but these should be taken with a (large) grain of salt.

Wonder – Realistic

Book Scavenger – Realistic/Mystery

Refugee – Modern Historical Fiction

Amina’s Voice – Realistic

The Metropolitans – Fantasy/Historical Fiction

The Mysterious Benedict Society

The Girl Who Drank the Moon – Fantasy

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library – Mystery

The First Rule of Punk – Realistic

The League of Beastly Dreadfuls – Fantasy

The Detective’s Assistant – Historical Fiction/Mystery

The Case of the Missing Moonstone – Historical Fiction/Mystery

 

YOUNG ADULT

The Hate U Give cover

There is only one book on this list, but it was the most powerful book I read all year. If you’re only going to read one YA novel all year, let it be this one.

The Hate You Give

 

TRUE STORIES FOR TRULY AWESOME KIDS

Over and Under the Snow cover

It’s a great time for people that love nonfiction. There is some terrific nonfiction out there right now. This list was just as hard to thin down as the middle grade novels. After each book, I’ve listed the age category. PB = picture book and can range from preschool to upper elementary. MG = middle elementary to middle school. YA = middle school to teen.

Over and Under The Snow – PB

I’m Trying to Love Spiders – PB

Kate Warne: Pinkerton Detective – PB

Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World about Kindness – PB

Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code – PB

Spot the Mistake: Lands of Long Ago – PB

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, A Young Civil Right’s Activist  – older PB

Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower – MG

Hidden Figures Young Reader’s Edition – MG or YA

Bomb: The Race to Build – And Steal – The World’s Most Dangerous Weapon – YA

Radioactive! How Irene Curie and Lise Meitner Revolutionized Science and Changed the World – YA

Blood, Bullets, and Bones: The Story of Forensic Science from Sherlock Holmes to DNA – YA

 

Still looking for inspiration? Check out these 500+ Great Kid’s Books.

Note: I get no compensation for making these recommendations. I just really, really like books.

A New Book, a New Pen, and Weathering the Storms of Rejection

Signature on New Publishing CotnractLast week I signed the contract for my second children’s book with Ancient Faith Publishing. I bought a fountain pen to mark the occasion.

When I signed my first contract 3.5 years ago, they warned me that the next slot in the production cycle was a few years away. I had an inkling of how slow publishing could be. I started my writing career working with textbook publishers. I saw first hand how many people and how many hours go into each book. In the end, it took 2.5 years for that contract to become Goodnight Jesus.

Writing can be an intense business. Even big-name authors still get rejections.


 

You have to hold onto the successes like a buoy when your inbox is nothing but a lightning storm of rejection. I got a rejection the very day I signed this new contract. Zap.

Eventually, contracts become books, and you have a solid reminder of the victory. But two and a half years is a long time to hold onto the excitement of a signature.

A pen is a physical reminder. A small joy that I can use every day to remind me that one day I’ll get to sign a book with that pen.

Here’s to all the pens to come.

Publishing Agreement

FREE Goodnight Jesus Lesson Plans and Activity Sheets

Goodnight Jesus Lessons and Activity Pages

Today I’m sharing something I’m really excited about. Lesson plans and activities based on Goodnight Jesus  for older children.

Wait, you’re thinking, isn’t this a book for little kids?

Yes, it is. But it’s also for older kids, too.

When I wrote Goodnight Jesus, I had the youngest children in mind. My inspiration came from watching my own toddling daughter kiss icons every night.  So I wrote the text to be short and sweet – just right for a cuddle before bed.

But I also wrote it to introduce children to the depth of our faith. It’s a foot in the door and an invitation to dive deeper. As children get older they are able to explore more and more of that depth.

These lesson plans will help you do just that.

There are several lesson plans for a variety of ages. They’re perfect for Church school classes, homeschoolers, or parents to use at home.

GO CHECK IT OUT!

 

Big List of Books to Give to Kids, 2016 Edition

2016 Big List of Books to Give to Kids

I’ve written before with book recommendations for the gift-buying holiday season. Funny thing, though, they keep publishing new books. Also there are still existing books out there that I’ve never read. (Amazing, I know.) Which means, this year I can write a whole new list! 

If you’re not sure what kind of book is best, check out this comprehensive blog post about picking the right book for the kid in your life.

Without further ado, the 2016 BIG LIST OF BOOKS  TO GIVE TO KIDS

 

Goodnight Jesus

Board book for expectant parents and little babies

Babies love books. What’s better than cuddling up with a favorite grownup to read a book? These books have stiff, durable pages and short texts for baby bookworms.

Goodnight Jesus (You just knew this was going to be in there, didn’t you?)

Baby Loves Aerospace Engineering

Llama Llama I Love You

 

Space Walk By Salina Yoon

Books for active babies and toddlers

These books are for babies and toddlers who want to move and do. Built-in actions help squirmy kids focus and sturdy pages help books last.

Space Walk

Goodnight Jesus (Yes, again. Toddlers love kissing the icons on every page. Parents love that the sturdy pages last a long time.)

 

Rain! by Linda Ashman

Picture books for preschoolers

Preschoolers love pictures books. These favorites have short text (for short attention spans) but big humor and adventure.

Rain!

Pipsie the Nature Detective series

Edmund Unravels

Vegetables in Underwear

The Thing about Yetis

 

Snappsy the Alligator by Julie Falatko

Picture books for kindergarten and elementary

I tried keeping this list short. (Really!) It’s not my fault so many awesome books were published this year. For kids with longer attention spans, these books are just plain brilliant

Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be In This Book)

Little Red Gliding Hood

Nuts in Space

A Beginners Guide to Bear Spotting

Space Boy and his Dog

Ada Twist, Scientist A new book in the same series as Rosie Revere!

 

A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond

Read aloud chapter books  for preschool and kindergarten

When your child is ready for something a little meatier, try these classic books. They’re also free of scary or mature content that wouldn’t be appropriate for young listeners.

A Bear Called Paddington and all the other Paddington books.

Stuart Little

 

What This Story Needs is a Pig In A Wig by Emma J. Virjan

Books for brand new readers

These shorter books are light on content but heavy on entertainment. That makes them the perfect place for a new reader to flex those reading muscles.

What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig

I Will Take a Nap by far our favorite of the Elephant and Piggie books

In, Over, and On the Farm

Hi! Fly Guy and the rest of the Fly Guy series. This series is more advanced than simple easy readers. Great for kids that aren’t quite ready to jump into reading chapter books.

 

The Story of Diva and Flea by Mo Willems

Short chapter books for less new readers

Kids that are ready to read longer books but aren’t ready for novels will love these shorter chapter books.

The Story of Diva and Flea

Geronimo Stilton series (see also: Thea Stilton series, Cavemice series, Spacemice series, ………)

 

Zita the Space Girl by Ben Hatke

Books for kids that don’t like to read

Most teachers (and authors!) believe that kids that don’t like to read just haven’t met the right book yet. Some kids also get stuck because the books at their reading level just don’t appeal to them. Do you know what almost all kids love? Comics. Know what’s easy to read? Comics. Know what builds reading skills? Reading comics.

Zita the Space Girl series

Baby Mouse series

 

Unusual Chickens for the Exception Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones

Big books for big kids

If you’ve got a bigger kid that’s comfortably reading bigger novels, these are the books for you. These books have more adventure and scarier villains suitable to bigger kids.

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer

Nick and Tesla’s High Voltage Danger Lab (Nick and Tesla series)

Maze of Bones (39 Clues series)

George’s Secret Key to the Universe

 

Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick

True stories for truly awesome kids

So far I’ve listed all fiction books. There’s a reason for that. Most kids like a good story the best. Some kids love true stories best of all.

Finding Winnie: The True Story of The World’s Most Famous Bear

Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans

The Camping Trip that Changed America

I am Martin Luther King Jr.

Welcome to Mars, Making a Home on the Red Planet

 

Still looking for inspiration? Check out these 500+ Great Kid’s Books.

Note: I get no compensation for making these recommendations. I just really, really like books.

Big List of Books to Give to Kids

Big list of books to give to kids

The holidays really snuck up on me. I was lured into a false sense of security by the bizarrely warm weather. Now the soul-suckingly cold weather has returned and I just realized Christmas is less than a week away.

If you’re scrambling for last minute gifts for the kids in your life, you’ve come to the right place. Books make amazing gifts for kids. But the kid’s book market can be a bit dizzying.

So let’s make it easy.

Here’s my book gifting guide for kids:

 

Board books for babies

Board book for expectant parents and little babies

Babies love books. They get cuddles and attention from their favorite adults. The get to learn about the world around them. They’re also great for teething….. I recommend board books with stiff, durable pages and short texts for baby bookworms.

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes

Moo, Baa, La La La

Llama Llama Time for Bed

I Love You Through and Through

And of course Goodnight Moon

 

Board books for active babies and toddlers

Books for active babies and toddlers

They’ve just learned how to use their bodies so they want to use those newfound skills. A lot. Don’t fear, in a few short months they’ll want to cuddle again. Until then offer books that appeal to their desire to move and do. Durability is still important while they learn the fine art of turning (not tearing) pages.

Where is Baby’s Belly Button and other lift-the-flap books

Animals: Baby Touch and Feel and other touch and feel books

I Can Do It Too!

 

Picture books for preschoolers

Picture books for preschoolers

Big kids enjoy longer texts and a bit of humor.  These books are tried and true favorites.

Llama Llama Time to Share

Press Here

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus

Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site

Is Everyone Ready for Fun?

 

Picture books for kindergarten and elementary

Read aloud picture books for kindergarten and elementary

Picture books aren’t just for little kids! Even kids that are reading themselves will enjoy these longer picture books. And it’s beneficial, even for kids that are already reading.

Rosie Revere Engineer

The Day the Crayons Quit

Corduroy

Click, Clack, Moo: Cow that Type

If I Built a House

 

First chapter books for reading aloud

First chapter books for reading aloud

Most kids will enjoy some longer, more complex stories when they are in preschool or kindergarten. At least some of the time. These chapter books are shorter with some pictures to help along the listener. They’ve also been chosen to have mild, non-scary content.

Little Bear

Frog and Toad

Mercy Watson to the Rescue

 

Read aloud chapter books for preschool and kindergarten

When your child is ready for something a little meatier, try these books. These classics are much loved in our house. They’re also free of scary or mature content* that wouldn’t be appropriate for young listeners.

My Father’s Dragon

Winnie the Pooh

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Anna Hibiscus

* I adore Anna Hibiscus. Adore. The characters and stories are hilarious and beautiful. I also adore that the author tackles big issues like poverty, inequity, and race in a way that isn’t scary for young kids. Even my very sensitive 4 year old was able to handle the content in this book. Use your judgement.

 

Books for brand new readers

Books for brand new readers

Reading is a skill. It takes a lot of practice to master. These shorter books are light on content but high on entertainment. That makes them the perfect place for a new reader to flex those reading muscles. The first chapter books for reading aloud are also great for kid’s just starting to read.

I Broke My Trunk and the other Elephant and Piggie books are pure gold

The Cat in the Hat

Fox in Socks

Ten Apples Up On Top

 

Short chapter books for less new readers

Kids that are ready to read longer books but aren’t ready for novels will love these shorter chapter books.

Amelia Bedelia Means Business (Amelia Bedelia Series)

Dinosaurs Before Dark (The Magic Treehouse Books)

Rapunzel Let’s Down her Hair (After Happily Ever After Series)

 

 

Books for kids that don't like to read

Books for kids that don’t like to read

Most teachers (and authors!) believe that kids that don’t like to read just haven’t met the right book yet. Some kids also get stuck because the books at their reading level just don’t appeal to them. Do you know what almost all kids love? Comics. Know what’s easy to read? Comics. Know what builds reading skills? Reading comics. These books may not be high fiction but they’re a lot of fun. And comics have been the gateway to reading for many kids.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Captain Underpants

Star Wars: Jedi Academy

 

Big books for big kids

Big books for Big kids

If you’ve got a bigger kid that’s comfortably reading bigger novels, these are the books for you. These books have more adventure and scarier villains suitable to bigger kids.

8 Class Pets + 1 squirrel/1 dog = chaos

The Mouse and the Motorcycle

The Tale of Desperaux: Being a Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread

The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable (Genius Files series)

The Lightening Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians series)

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia series, book 2)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter series)

The Hobbit

 

True stories

True stories for kids

So far I’ve listed all fiction books. There’s a reason for that. Most kids like a good story the best. Some kids love true stories best of all.

Pluto’s Secret: An Icy World’s Tale of Discovery my daughter wouldn’t forgive me if I left out her favorite book

Mr. Ferris and His Wheel

Separate is Never Equal

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker

The Boy Who Loved Math

Ghandi: A March to the Sea

The Planet Hunter: The Story Behind What Happened to Pluto

Emmanuel’s Dream: the True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu

 

Still looking for inspiration? Check out these 500+ Great Kid’s Books.