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Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss

Fifty years ago yesterday, "The Cat in the Hat" was born. It turned its author Theodor Seuss Geisel into a legend and it transformed children's books.

In case you don't know the story of "The Cat in the Hat" (and no, I don't mean "The sun did not shine. it was too wet to play. So we sat in the house. All that cold, cold, wet day."), here goes: The Cat was published jointly by Houghton Mifflin and Random House. It was written in response to a Life magazine article criticizing children's first reader books as boring and "antiseptic." Geisel was challenged to create a first reader with kid appeal. He wrote the book with 236 words taken from word lists for beginning readers.

Clearly, the mess-making Cat is as far from antiseptic as you can get. And the book was, and is, a huge hit.

In honor of two birthdays (Geisel was born on March 2, 1904), let's hear about your favorite kids' books. Plus, join in on NEA's Read Across America Day today and read "The Cat in the Hat" aloud.

As for some of my favorites for young children: Dr. Seuss's "Hop on Pop"; anything by David Wiesner; "Talk, Baby"; "Frog and Toad" and "Harold and the Purple Crayon". Plus, I can't wait till my kids are old enough for Harry Potter!

By Stacey Garfinkle |  March 2, 2007; 6:45 AM ET  | Category:  Babies , Preschoolers
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Comments


The Sandra Boynton board books are my favorites for very young children! My kids are older now (14 and 10) but I still have Moo Baa La La La memorized! After that, the series of "If You Give a Mouse A Cookie" are great!

Posted by: MDMom | March 2, 2007 7:20 AM | Report abuse

My daughter is only 15 months old, so we're still in board-book land. She absolutely loves Sandra Boynton's books, especially Doggies, Hey, Wake Up! and But Not the Hippopotomous.

I must admit that I am dreading the Doctor Suess phase. The books may be fun for kids, but they're interminably long and boring to read out loud. I hated them when I was a babysitter.

Posted by: NewSAHM | March 2, 2007 7:25 AM | Report abuse

The Boynton books are wonderful for small kids. We credit them with our daughter recognizing numbers at a very early age. Counting she got from us, but actually recognizing the symbols? "One hippo, all alone. . ."

Posted by: Herndonmom | March 2, 2007 7:38 AM | Report abuse

My 2.5 year old daughter loves the Dr. Seuss books. I find they are a bit wordy and long for her, so I usually only read 2-3 lines per page (they read surprisingly well that way). One thing I didn't realize until recently is that some of the books are a bit dated (as in not super PC, if you know what I mean). The one that really jumps to mind is one we have called "If I Ran the Zoo" which has lines about people "with eyes at a slant" and pictures of what I'm presuming to be native and/or African people looking very caricatured and primitive. Not a big deal yet, but something that I'm sensitive to and will have to be sure to explain. Of course many of the books are sheer delight - Cat in the Hat, Mr. Brown can Moo, and many others.

Also, many of the storylines are really more sophisticated than young kids can grasp. My daughter still enjoys the pictures and the words and sounds, but the message behind stories like Yertle the Turtle and the Sneetches etc. are fairly mature.

There are so many great books out there for kids - we also love Richard Scarry books, the Otto series and others by Todd Parr, the Olivia books by Ian Falconer, and anything by Mo Willems. I'm just so thrilled my little one loves to read!

Posted by: Vienna mom | March 2, 2007 7:43 AM | Report abuse

My daughter is five and we just discovered Graeme Base. He is an author and illustrator. His books are amazing. As an adult, I love the story lines. Many books have "hidden" pictures in the illustrations and it's so much fun to search for them with your child.

"Animalia" is our favorite.
The "Eleventh Hour" is a mystery that gave my brain a work-out. Older kids would probably like it.

Posted by: NOVA prof | March 2, 2007 7:46 AM | Report abuse

Of course in my house we read Richard Scarry. I also like the Sandra Boynton books.

I got a book yesterday at a book fair called "wet dog." my daughter loves it, but I can't remember the author.

Posted by: scarry | March 2, 2007 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Some favorites for us are Is Your Mama a Llama?, Sheep in a Jeep, and Bear Snores On. We like some Dr. Seuss as well although Fox in Socks is horrible to read.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | March 2, 2007 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Never Tease a Weasel (the '64 classic which just so happens to be having a reprint this month!!!)

Have the greatest memories of this book, can't wait to read it to my little guy.

Posted by: pop | March 2, 2007 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Agreed that Boynton is one of the best for small kids. I now have favorites from my childhood (e.g., the George & Martha books, "I'll Teach My Dog 100 Words," and "Go Dog, Go") and new favorites that I've discovered while parenting my 3-year-old:

"Bear Snores On" and other books by Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman
"Ten in the Den" and others by John Butler
The "Big Dog and Little Dog" books by Dav Pilkey

I look forward to reading everyone else's favorites!

Posted by: yet another lawyer | March 2, 2007 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Current favorites in our house for my 5 year old are:
Fox In Socks, Horton Hears a Who, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late.

My two year old twins love:

The Belly Button Book and Guess How Much I Love You.

I'm sure it won't be long until Cat in the Hat returns to the top 5 list. Luckily, I know large sections of it by heart.

Posted by: Mom2LED | March 2, 2007 8:58 AM | Report abuse

My daughter loves all books but there have been some clear favorites over the years. Early on the Boynton books were well loved and she still cannot bear to part with them permenantly. She also went through an Angelina Ballerina phase. Currently, we are working our way through the Secrets of Droon and Katie Kazoo series, after finishing the Magic Tree House series. She is also a huge fan on Harry Potter as a book on tape (but only through book 5 as we felt book 6 was a bit too dark for a 7 year old). She is also a huge fan of Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Trixie Belden.

Interestingly enough, she has all of the Suess books but never really took to them. Same with Richard Scarry. Wierd, but to each their own. At the age when we thought she'd like Suess, she was on an anatomy kick and wouldn't read anything but books on the human body.

Posted by: Private School Mom | March 2, 2007 8:59 AM | Report abuse

My three kids are age 6, 4, and 16 mos. As toddlers, they all have loved Sandra Boynton books, especially Moo, Baa, La La La, But Not the Hippopotamus, and the Going to Bed Book. As they got older, we read more Suess, especially Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham. In fact, my 6 year old was determined to read Cat in the Hat by himself 2 weeks ago (even though it took him 40 minutes!). Lately, my older boys like chapter books like Henry and Mudge, Nate the Great, Frog and Toad, and The Magic Tree House books. I started reading these to my 6 year old a few months ago, and to my surprise, my 4 year old sits through the stories despite fewer pictures. He even requests them when his brother is at school!

Posted by: my three sons | March 2, 2007 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Why the Sun and the Moon Live in the Sky - also great, also a '60's book like Never Tease a Weasel...but the great ones never go out of style.

Posted by: dave | March 2, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Dave - I agree, I love those old books from my youth. My vote is for "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day".

Posted by: Cindy | March 2, 2007 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Mr Brown Can Moo, Can You? and the Eric Carle books were always big hits for my kids.

Posted by: JL | March 2, 2007 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Caps for Sale - I loved it, my kids, and now their grandkids love it.

Posted by: GranmaMD | March 2, 2007 9:12 AM | Report abuse

I grew up with the Ant and Bee series from England, now sadly out of print. Our 5 yo can only read them at the grandparents' house.

All Dr. Seuss were big at our house, and I still find myself reciting some of it to explain a mood I find myself in. Especially..."Hi, my name is Ned. I do not like this little bed."

Shel Silverstein is also huge, here. And 10 Minutes to Bedtime.

Posted by: Erika | March 2, 2007 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Kitten's First Full Moon, Polar Bear Night, Madeline and The Hello Good Bye Window are some of our favorites. (sorry I can't remember the authors).
This morning my 2 1/2 year old son was sitting on the steps by his window "reading" Harold and the Purple Crayon and the Ear Book. I love the fact that both of our kids love books and will "read" them by themselves without being told too.

Posted by: drmom | March 2, 2007 9:17 AM | Report abuse

My 7 year old presently is an avid fan of the Captain Underpants serious. He also likes the Nate the Great series, and the Henry and Ribsy books by Beverly Cleary.

But Captain Underpants trumps everything else at this point. Sigh

Posted by: Emily | March 2, 2007 9:18 AM | Report abuse

I LOVE Dr. Seuss. I credit him for awakening a love of language in me -- the words just trip off the tongue, and he made up such fabulous words that make no sense at all and yet perfectly describe whatever-it-is he is describing.

But most importantly, his books gave a sense of power to a powerless 5-yr-old. I LOVED "Green Eggs and Ham" -- ran around the house saying "I do not LIKE it!" (You mean you can say "no"?). And "Cat in the Hat" was just completely over-the-line daring -- you mean you might not do just what your mom said, and THEN might not tell her about it??? I never could bring myself quite that far. :-) But boy, it was powerful to fantasize about it.

I also loved-loved-LOVED "Where the Wild Things Are," I think for the same reason --the kid escapes being in trouble by creating this whole fantasy world where he is all-powerful. And then, when he comes back down to earth, he finds himself loved despite his anger and bad behavior. How reassuring is THAT to a kid?? Plus the drawings are gorgeous.

I love reading Dr. Seuss to my daughter -- there's something about the flow of it that, when it's read really well, is like poetry. Especially "The Lorax" -- that book is just a beautiful read. Although I agree most are too long for bedtime reading. Our compromise is that if she gets going early, I can read a whole big book like that; but if it's a little later, or she wants to do all the reading herself, we can read a few pages out of something like "One Fish, Two Fish."

My son is 16 months, so we're at the very simple and easy stage -- he loves "Go Dog Go," because he can turn the pages, there is little enough writing that I can finish the page before he has turned to the next, and he can sit there and say "g - g - g!!" and act like he's reading. :-)

Posted by: Laura | March 2, 2007 9:19 AM | Report abuse

The Boynton books, and the Mercer Mayer books were popular when they were younger.

They loved all the Dr. Seuss books - don't forget the ones by "Theo LeSieg" (spell it backwards).

When they got older, the girls loved the Babysitter's Club series.

All of them love/loved the Harry Potter books.

Posted by: Army Brat | March 2, 2007 9:20 AM | Report abuse

There's a Monster at the End of this Book.

Of course, with Elmo taking over everything, poor Grover probably gets no love anymore. And I suppose it could be considered to encourage sadism. But it's still the best book ever.

Posted by: MB | March 2, 2007 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Some favorites at our house include the Little Critter books by Mercer Meyer, A Boy, A Dog and A Frog (series), Jenny and the Cat Club (generally for older kids but my 4 year old loves the stories). My kids also loved Goodnight Moon and all of the Eric Carle books. We're starting Magic School Bus, too, and they really seem to like those.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 2, 2007 9:40 AM | Report abuse

What fun to see everyone's favorites! I agree with many...Madeline, Madeline's Rescue, Where the Wild Things Are, Charlotte's Web, Where the Sidewalk Ends...

Although I have to say that "Go Dog, Go" is still my absolute favorite children's book. Yes, I like that party hat! Good bye!

Posted by: Readin'Mommy | March 2, 2007 9:42 AM | Report abuse

More and more keep coming to mind as I sit here, but two other great ones are "There's a Mouse About the House" and "A Squirrel's Tale." Each book has a mouse or squirrel that works its way through the book with the child. They girls never wanted to put them down!

Posted by: JL | March 2, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Re: Vienna Mom's comment about older books no longer being "pc" - my kids were horrified to hear that Cookie Monster now says that "cookies are a sometimes thing". "C is for cookie" was a song they sang over and over - I think everyone in the family knows it by heart, still.

Side note: on Dr. Seuss reading day in elementary school, I was always the only one who volunteered to read "Fox in Socks". It's still MY favorite book.

Posted by: Army Brat | March 2, 2007 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone remember the books series? (They were mentioned in You've got Mail as well). I loved Ballet Shoes and Theater Shoes - very readable.

Posted by: Lawdancer | March 2, 2007 9:54 AM | Report abuse

'The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins' by Dr. Seuss was my favorite. It was not only fun and entertaining, it had a message.

Posted by: TGIF | March 2, 2007 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Ah, children's books. If I ever have to take a second job, I'll go back to the bookstore, just to work in children's books (I did in college, and loved it!).

There's A Monster At The End Of This Book is one of my all time, absolute favorites. I am so upset that Grover is getting pushed out by the obnoxious Elmo, too.

I loved the Richard Scarry books, especially the encyclopedia/dictionary kind of book he put out with all the related words and pictures - I was always a sucker for 'how things work and what you call them' books. Dr. Seuss was my sister's favorite, but I loved Shel Silverstein - Dad was always happy to read those to us.

I love some of the 'deeper' books, too - Hannah Upstairs, Hannah Downstairs, books like Island of the Blue Dolphins, Follow My Leader and Hatchet (and what was that one about the boy that ran away and lived in a hollowed out tree in NY State?).

I'm still on a quest to find the book that a short story I loved was in - a story about a doll hospital, on the one day in a year when dolls were allowed to come to life. It was in one of those old Childcraft books, I think, but it's been decades and I can't find it in any of the ones at my parent's house.

Love the discussion today!

Posted by: Rebecca in AR | March 2, 2007 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Boynton books, David Shannon ("Alice the Fairy"), Angelina Ballerina, Graeme Base (stunning illustrations in "Animalia"), Jan Brett, and the current favorites -- Jack Prelutsky's poetry, "Ain't Gonna Paint No More", "You Are My I Love You". DD is hot and cold on Dr Seuss.

Posted by: Stroller Momma | March 2, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

I have to put a plug in for Curious George and Frog and Toad...I also had (still do at my parents house) a huge collection of the "Little Golden Books".

Richard Scarry was a favorite, too -- I loved Loly Worm!! One year that was my birthday theme and my mom made stuffed Loly Worms as the party favors (we're talking the 70's).

Posted by: Columbia, MD | March 2, 2007 10:19 AM | Report abuse

I'm expecting an 8-year-old coming into my life this summer (serious boyfriend's son) and reading is really important to me. But I've grown up with all girls and don't know which series or books might appeal to a boy! I'm tempted to give him the Boxcar Children, Bridge to Terabithia, and the BFG because they seemed gender-neutral and I loved them in my youth - any suggestions for summertime rainy day reading so we can keep the video games off?

Posted by: DC | March 2, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

The Very Hungry Catapillar and Ten Little Ladybugs

I used to point to each of the items the catapillar ate. As my son got older, sometimes I wouldn't point and he would take my finger and use it to touch every item.

He LOVED Ten Little Ladybugs so much it was the theme for his first birthday.

My daughter just likes to chew her board books. She is just like a puppy, only cuter.

Posted by: LM in WI | March 2, 2007 10:41 AM | Report abuse

I'm surprised so many seem to not like reading Dr. Seuss to kids. I don't have kids, but look for opportunities to read Seuss, and Shel Silverstein. I can practically recite Fox in Socks--one of my faves.

I was born in 1975--my faves as a toddler were Seuss and Richard Scarry, as well. The 'Best Word Book Ever' is still a favorite of mine..... :) Mom used to ask me to identify all of the items/people, and I think I made up stories about them....love the worm in his apple car!

Posted by: M, in Annapolis | March 2, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Much as I loved the classic children's fairly tales, I have decided that some are not good stories to read because I think they don't promote positive ideas.

Example, Hansel and Gretel. I objected to the portrayal of the step-mom as wicked and I didn't like that Dad abandoned his children. I also don't read The Ugly Duckling because I don't like the message that one needs to be beautiful or just like everyone else to be accepted.

I have a great collection of traditional folktales that I plan on reading to my daughter as she gets bigger. It is called The Maid of the North, Feminist Folk Tales from Around te World. I like it because it is NOT overtly PC, these are traditional tales but unlike so many of the classics, the girls in these stories don't wait around for Prince charming to save them. The girls are clever, strong, and yes, looking for love.

Posted by: LM in WI | March 2, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

I want to read "The Cat in the Hat for President" by Robert Coover, but I can't find a copy.

Posted by: Tomcat | March 2, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

When I was a kid, I loved "The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Grey Bridge." I wanted my son to love it too, which might be the reason he has shown no interest in it. It's still a great story. We both love a relatively new book, "Where on Earth is my Bagel," which is funny and interesting. When my son was younger, he loved "The Napping House."

Posted by: Paul | March 2, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

DC, as for boy-friendly chapter books, try Madeleine L'Engle. She's got a good balance of both boy and girl protagonists. My favorite growing up was 'A Swiftly Tilting Planet'.

Posted by: M, in Annapolis | March 2, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

DC, for an 8-year-old boy try the "Great Brain" series. Also Encyclopedia Brown mysteries though they are a little dated.

Posted by: Neighbor | March 2, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

My son is 18 months, and so far has loved:

1. Goodnight Moon
2. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
3. Moo Baa La La La (Love this book)
4. I Went Walking by Sue Williams (wonderful cadence to read aloud: I went walking. What did you see? I saw a black cat, looking at me...) The child in this story is somewhat gender-neutral (and rather ugly, which I think is great) -- my son, newly aware of himself as a "boy" has named him as "boy".
5. My Busy Day (a Fisher Price book, out of print, I think), which is awesome to look at and to read aloud. Tabs for pulling.

I could go on and on, but will keep it at those.

One thought, though. Some children's books are easy to read aloud, and a pleasure, and some children's books are not -- I've really noticed a difference. My son doesn't necessarily distinguish a difference, but I do, and it either adds or subtracts to my pleasure. I think it is something I would consider when choosing any new books.

One book I absolutely dislike and my son continues to like is called "Tails" by Van Fleet. It's got all these moving parts (which he easily ripped off), is annoying to read and has only one redeeming feature -- a beautiful, shiny page with a peacock tail that fascinates my son every time.
There are a lot of children's books that are all flash and no substance, and this is definitely one, in my opinion.

I don't recommend any books with paper flaps for young kids, but they love them. It's a tossup, because the kids ultimately destroy the book and you have to use a lot of tape to hold it together.

When my son gets older: Shel Silverstein and Madeline L'Engle (A wrinkle in time) are a MUST! Loved the Boxcar Children a lot too. Anyone remember "The Littles"?

Posted by: Rebecca | March 2, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

My 3.5 year old also likes the Sandra Boyton books but she's been on a kick with other books/authors too, Dr. Suess included. She loves Cat in the Hat, Hop on Pop, Green Eggs and Ham, and The Lorax. Slugs in Love by Susan Pearson is getting read by daddy at bedtime a lot. Several from the Maisey series, a couple of Todd Parr books, and anything with counting involved.

Posted by: E | March 2, 2007 11:34 AM | Report abuse

To LM in WI, look for a wonderful book by Robert Munsch called "The Paperbag Princess". It is a very good change on the classic fairy tale! Most people know Robert Munsch for a book called "Love You Forever" but that is my least favorite of his. I think my favorites are "Thomas' Snowsuit" and "Good Families Don't". They are hysterical!!

Posted by: MDMom | March 2, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

In addition to many of the books already mentioned, I have to give a plug for Roald Dahl. The stories generally have a good balance of sweet and astringent and people act in recognizable ways.

Posted by: freelunch | March 2, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Love Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree. My daughter (just turned 6) has also adored Barbara Park's Junie B. Jones series since she was 4 1/2. In fact, my daughter's dressed up for a Dr. Seuss party today, as Richie Lucille from the Junie books. Barbara Park is a genius at capturing the flavor of kindergarteners and first graders!

While she has also loved Boynton books, Harold and the Purple Crayon,and the Give a Mouse/Pig...series and so much more, giving her "chapter books" ahead of the stated age level(first reading them to her, then having her read them to me) has greatly accelerated her reading skills, and challenged her without being push.

Happy, Happy Dr. Seuss Day!!

Posted by: VASingleMom | March 2, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I just want to say thanks! I don't have kids, but I do have 8 neices and nephews. The information here has been great! I'm well prepared for the next birthday.

Posted by: Wannabe Cool Auntie | March 2, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

to MDMom

I bought my son a CD of Robert Munsch reading several of his stories. My son ADORES it. For parents looking for ways to entertain their little ones during car rides, I would definately recomment this CD.

Posted by: LM in WI | March 2, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

"The Phantom Tollbooth" great mix of educational and fun in a chapterbook. Most under-rated book around. By Juster- I think.

Posted by: Book for older kids.. | March 2, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

When he was 4 my son fell in love with the "Tacky the Penguin" books. Now he's loving Silverstein's "Runny Babbit" book. One of my favorites to read him is the wonderfully lyrical "Owl Moon" by Jane Yolen.

The sad trend seems to be that the children's sections are becoming increasingly dominated by books tied into tv shows and movies. If Cat in the Hat were to come out now, it would probably be "Clifford in the Hat." And I see a lot of kids book out there where the Michael Myers cat in the hat has suplanted Dr. Seuss' act. It's getting harder and harder to teach just the love of books as their won independent art form.

Posted by: DaddyG. | March 2, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

One more to add:

"Katie the kitten, a small tiger cat, is asleep in the hall, all curled up in a hat. *turn page* She's awake now!"

I was obsessed with that book.

Posted by: MB | March 2, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I love Pippi Longstocking and The Children of Noisy Village series both by Astrid Lindgren.

I hate to be negative, but I despise Junie B. Jones. I feel like she is sassy and rude and generally obnoxious. I much prefer Pippi because her "misbehavior" comes from a place of innocence and the INTENT is not to be sassy as opposed to Junie B. Jones. That said, I know they are very very popular!

Posted by: moxiemom | March 2, 2007 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Across the board, and from day one, I've most loved books with a plot. Cat in the Hat is wonderful that way. It has a beginning, characters, something happens and a climax. I did (and still do) dread the word books. And when I'm operating on ALMOST three hours of sleep (spread across seven hours), something with a plot, no matter how minimal or simplistic, has a much greater chance of keeping me awake.

Posted by: DadOf2Under4 | March 2, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Oh... and Sandra Boynton rocks! Most of her books (especially Barnyard Dance!) can be sung. Just make sure you remember the tune, 'cause they sure will... :-)

Posted by: DadOf2Under4 | March 2, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Another of my daughter's favorites when she was about 6 or so was Patricia Polocco. I had the pleasure of meeting her once when I worked in a children's book store. Amazingly, she looks just like her characters in her books and is an amazingly sweet woman!

Posted by: MDMom | March 2, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad I'm not the only one who gets, um, frustated with Dr. Suess books. Granted, there are many that I love, "Go! Dog Go!" "Are You My Mother" and "Green Eggs and Ham" "Put Me in the Zoo"are some of my favorite books.

But I'll tell you this -- I've hidden "Hop on Pop" "One Fish, Two Fish" and the like. They don't tell a story, they don't make sense, and he just made up words so they would rhyme. Made up words? Who needs that?

Some other favorites are the McDuff books by Rosemary Wells, "How I Became a Pirate," "How Does a Dinosaur Say Goodnight?"

And since I've already exposed myself as a somewhat grumpy reader, what's with the stalker mom in "I'll Love Your Forever"?

Posted by: Arlington Dad | March 2, 2007 12:46 PM | Report abuse

The Baby Catalog was a big favorite when my son was a baby.

When I was a child, i loved the "Rupert the Bear" series of books. Don't seem them around these days-- they were gifts from family in Canada, so maybe that is why. Very non-PC pictures! yikes!

My child is now 3 and he loves: Go, dog, go!
Winnie the Pooh series of 12 little books,
The Snowy Day,
Green Eggs and Ham,
The Little engine that could, (1940s version) and . . . .

Curious George-- which is such a weird book!! the man in the Yellow Hat kidnaps this monkey from his home, but he is supposed to be a good guy-- why? well now George lives in a zoo, and isn't that so much better than living in Africa? Ummmmm . . . . no. I still read the book when my son asks me to, but I make it pretty clear that I am not impressed at all with the Man in the Yellow Hat.

Weslandia is a wonderful book and my son loved for quite awhile, but it is really better for older kids.

any suggested books to help my son get excited about becoming a big brother?


what age do kids start to read books like go dog go? My son seems like he could start doing it soon. Should I encourage or try to inhibit-- I've heard a theory that the longer kids wait, the better readers they will actually be as adults. i think I started reading just before 4 and I love to read so that seems wrong to me.


Posted by: Clarina | March 2, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

The most lovely book you cannot buy anymore is "Everyone Asked About You" written by Theodore Faro Gross and illustrated by Sheila White Samton. It begins with a boy shouting up to the sad-faced Nora, who is looking out her window, "Nora, Nora, open the door, open the door Nora Blue. I came to say at school today that everyone asked about you." It continues with the boy describing a series of those who asked for Nora - kids at school, a baseball team, mountain lions, the empress of jupiter (you get the drift). Her cheeks grow increasingly red as his claims become increasingly far fetched. The ending is a winner.
The illlustrations are breathtaking and the writing lyrical. So sad it is no longer published. But it is worth a trip to the library to check out for any child from age 4 to 8 (or 46 for that matter - I love reading it). And the library is a good habit for children in any event, isn't it?

Posted by: EllicottLiz | March 2, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

That "I'll Love You Forever" book always makes me cry-- it's too damn manipulative. I'm such a sap.

She IS a stalker mom! But I guess there is a part of me that can relate to that. yikes! Probably best for all concerned I'll have another child to help dilute the intensity of feeling toward my first!

Posted by: Clarina | March 2, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I agree with you, Arlington Dad, "Love You Forever" is just plain weird! I don't get it. But you really should check out his other books! They are great!

Posted by: MDMom | March 2, 2007 1:04 PM | Report abuse

And since I've already exposed myself as a somewhat grumpy reader, what's with the stalker mom in "I'll Love Your Forever"?

Posted by: Arlington Dad | March 2, 2007 12:46 PM
LOL

Posted by: moxiemom | March 2, 2007 1:25 PM | Report abuse

It's come to the point with "I'll Love You Forever," that my kids LOVE to read this book. We do a running commentary about why this woman has a ladder strapped to the top of her car, what would they do if their Grandma climbed through my window, and wasn't it smart for the man to not give his mother a key. We really have a good time with it, but obviously this can't be the last book before bedtime because it gets everyone riled up. And, we have to make sure the windows are locked!

MD Mom -- I will check out the other books by this author -- thanks!

Posted by: Arlington Dad | March 2, 2007 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I just remembered how very much I love and my kids love The Lorax. Wonderful seuss book with a message that is meaningful!

Posted by: moxiemom | March 2, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Clarina -- you said "Probably best for all concerned I'll have another child to help dilute the intensity of feeling toward my first!"

For me, at least, it didn't work that way. I have 3 now, but there's just something so powerful about my feelings for the first one. I'm not picking favorites, but #1 really does hold a unique place in my heart. It's hard to explain.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | March 2, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

My favorite is the poem Tony Kornheiser wrote when Dr. Seuss died. It was in the September 29, 1991 edition of the Washington Post and the title was What's the Use without Dr. Seuss.

Posted by: Darcy | March 2, 2007 1:36 PM | Report abuse

DC (and anyone else looking for books for 8-year-old boys):

I recommend everything by Lloyd Alexander, but especially the "Book of Three" series (also called the Prydain Chronicles). There are 5 books, and I started the first one, "The Book of Three" when I was 8. They are fabulous in a swash-buckling mythology sort of way, like the Star Wars films (well, the original Star Wars films, not the new crap).

Also, if he likes baseball or other sports, I recommend a writer by the name of Alfred Slote. I don't know if his books are very available these days, but he writes about regular kid problems (lying, parent issues) with a backdrop of sports.

And even though I highlight these as good books for boys, I also happen to think they're good for girls, too (heck, the reason I'm recommending them is because *I* loved them!)

Posted by: yet another lawyer | March 2, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the warning Arlington Dad! any advice about kids books that explain being a big brother-- or even where babies "come from". He knows there is a baby in my belly right now, but I'm steeling myself for the moment he asks me how the baby got intheir to begin with! Tell the truth? Change the subject?

My son has also recently start to touch himself and I really don't know what to do or say. I think one of teachers said something sharp to him about it because he later told me that he penis was "bad" but he refused to say why. She told me she just told him stop doing that at school, but I think he overreacted to the criticism. I don't want my son to have a complex about this, but i also don't wan thim to do it because it makes me uncomfortable. I figure it's like picking your nose-- it's nature and normal, but not really Ok to do at certain times!

Posted by: Clarina | March 2, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Two other authors that are good for 8-10 yo boys are John Bellairs (kind of scary but not too much) and Matt Christopher (sports, biographies too). Oh and RL Stine is sometimes good too.

Posted by: MDMom | March 2, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

To Clarina:

Time to find a good age-appropriate program! If you have a Unitarian Universalist church nearby, they offer a sex ed program that's non-judgemental, and is done in stages (elementary is more anatomy/boys vs. girls and some basic sex ed, all the way up to adults dealing with non-traditional sexual relationships and infertility/sexual dysfunction). you don't have to be a UU to go, and it's done in a medical, non religious way if you're not a regular churchgoer. If you are, your church may offer a class as well.

There are some good books out there, as well - you can look for them at your local library or bookstore. Try to get one that YOU are comfortable with, as you'll probably have to do some teaching, especially at the younger ages. It's a lifelong thing - I'm still talking about sex (although more in a relationship context) with my 13 year old.

Posted by: Rebecca in AR | March 2, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

for 8 - 10 year old boys -plot, adventure and humor are key. Following are a mix of classic and new:

anything by Bruce Coville (Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher & the My Teacher is an Alien series).

My Father's Dragon series by Ruth Stiles Gannett;

David and the Phoenix by Edward Ormondroyd;

Dragon of the Lost Sea by Laurence Yep;

(someone will scream, but I have to say it:) Captain Underpants

and we were in the thick of the Harry Potter series by age 8.

My son is 11 now and my goal was to encourage reading for pure fun. I don't care if his Captain Underpants are the most dog-eared and beloved books on his shelf. He reads a lot of other books, but the CU series is his secret rebellion against grown-ups and it's harmless if balanced and they're FUNNY!!!! (if you're an 8-year old boy, that is)

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, I don't have any good sibling books to recommend.

I know this is a very limited worldview, but I tell my kids (3 and 5) that Moms and Dads get married, then if they are lucky, a baby grows inside Mommy. That kept my kids satisfied, but they're young.

As far as touch himself, no books on that either. I told him it's normal to touch himself, but impolite to do it in front of people. So it's okay when you're alone and when you are in bed at night. So when we're talking in the kitchen, or reading stories and his hand goes down his pants, I just quietly remind him "hand," or if he's really zoned out "hand... wait till you're in bed alone." Not a big deal, but the gentle reminders help. Of course, he reminds me when I scratch myself, but hey, it's natural!

Also, please keep in mind that for little guys it is not sexual. It feels good, but it is not the same thing as adult touching himself the same way. You are wise not to make a big deal of it, and try not to let it make you uncomfortable.

Posted by: Clarina | March 2, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Clarnia -- sorry! I signed your name to my missive to you on playing with yourself! That was an accident. That post was by me -- Arlington Dad

Posted by: Arlington Dad | March 2, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Anyone know of any good books for a 4-year old to start talking about religion?

I'm an agnostic Jew, my wife a lax Catholic. The kids have been baptized Catholic, and will be raised as such, probably including Catholic grade schools.

We would like to begin instilling a sense of respect for all faiths, but don't know where to begin. Most of the religious books I've found for this age group are of the God/Jesus/Allah/(Insert deity here) is Terriffic! variety. Not the message we're going for.

Posted by: Preschool Dad | March 2, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Clarisa - I'm going to second Arl. Dad. We tell ds who is now 6 that it is o.k. to touch, but it is something done in private just like many things we do. Showering, going to the bathroom. Seems to work o.k. I'm struggling with the sex thing too, but mostly because I'm o.k. letting the cat out of the bag, but a lot and I mean a lot of the neighbor ladies are not and once you tell one kid you've told them all, so I'm trying to be respectful of them w/o being unfair to ds. I believe in being open about it all. If you are weird about it then they will feel weird about it. Anyway, I'm sure I'll have to break and spill the beans soon though, he's very, very inquisitive.

Preschool dad, we struggle with a lot of the same things, but I've got to run. Faith would be a groovy topic especially for those of us who are on the fence or not part of organized religion.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 2, 2007 3:47 PM | Report abuse

"CU series is his secret rebellion against grown-ups and it's harmless if balanced and they're FUNNY!!!! (if you're an 8-year old boy, that is)"

I second that. Bilkey is a very funny writer. I have read some of Captain Underpants, and it's absolutely hilarious. A lot of hidden grown-up jokes. Like, for example, the school psychologist is called Mrs. Labler.

Posted by: Emily | March 2, 2007 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Surprised no one mentioned Beatrix Potter.

I also loved (still do) the Very Hungry Caterpillar. And the Harry the dog series. There was also a book that I read over and over that was about bunch of kids who find all the left over paint and paint the outside of the house while the parents are out for the day. Wish I could remember the name.

Anyone from the 70s remember Pierre, Alligators All Around, One Was Johnny, and Chicken Soup with Rice (Maurice Sendak)? I had a little box-set.

Re. introducing religion -- have you look into any of the religious stores? Or even a regular chain bookstore? Now that Easter's approaching, I've seen Easter books with more at the bookstore in Union Station.

Posted by: Columbia, MD | March 2, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

There once was a boy named Pierre,
Who would always say, " I don't care."

That's all I remember out Pierre.

Posted by: Emily | March 2, 2007 4:26 PM | Report abuse

But I do remember my most loved childhood girls books: A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, Little Women, Little Men, Eight Cousins, Nancy Drew series, Trixie Belden series, Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, all of the Anne of Green Gables books, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, the Little House on the Prairie books....

It was a really sweet time.

I have a son, and I know he won't like most of the books I loved. Maybe a daughter will someday.

Posted by: Emily | March 2, 2007 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I do not have children of my own, but have spent most of my life reading to younger nieces, nephews, and other assorted little ones.

One series that would appeal particularly to girls is "Amelia Bedelia". Children love the mixed up calamaties Amelia gets herself into.

My nephews loved all the Richard Scary books.

One of my favorite books was entitled "It's Mine -- a Greedy Book". The book starred Mabel Ann, who had a carrot, and Patrick, who did not have anything to eat. They both learn a lesson about sharing after a goat eats their picnic lunch.

For younger kids, say four to six, read the Winnie the Pooh stories. They are timeless and teach so many lessons about life.

Someone has already mentioned the Nancy Drew stories. I did not read those stories as often as I read The Bobsey Twins. I liked the fact that there were both boys and girls involved in solving the mystery.

Another hit in my family has been Sports Illustrated. My nephews all started reading early, so by age eight, they were reading the magazine from cover to cover every week. If you do not want to expose your child to the more sophisticated material in the regular SI, the Sports Illustrated for Kids is a great read for kids who want to keep up with their sports.

I subscribed to Highlights Magazine when I was growing up. This is still published today, and still has great stories and fun games and puzzles to engage the readers.

Posted by: a79wahoo | March 2, 2007 5:31 PM | Report abuse

We are big fans of Frog and Toad, Brambley Hedge and now that my oldest daughter is 5, the Little House books.

Posted by: Robert in Austin | March 5, 2007 8:12 AM | Report abuse

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