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Overrated, Overread

Mr. Methodical (the six-year-old) is on a book kick these days. (Gotta say that I LOVE that he now likes books). And that means reading the Magic Treehouse books in order -- all of them. Near crisis even ensued over the weekend when the library didn't have book 20. Thankfully, the school media center came through earlier this week.

Now, I like Jack and Annie as well as the next gal, but I'm not quite sure if I'll feel the same way when we hit book 38.

I know I can't be the only parent who has hidden a favorite book for a few days after the thousandth reading to try to persuade a little one to choose something, anything, else.

Here's a start at a list of the overrateds and overread on our bookshelf -- given with love and intimate knowledge of all words and all pictures:

1. Goodnight Moon
2. Pat the Bunny
3. Guess How Much I Love You
4. The Cat in the Hat
5. Once Upon a Potty

And some real gems:

1. Mo Willems' Pigeon, Elephant and Piggie, and, of course, Knuffle Bunny
2. Red-Eyed Tree Frog
3. Sally Goes to the Vet
4. Tuesday
5. In the Night Kitchen

What are your overread books and gems?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  February 21, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Elementary Schoolers , Preschoolers
Previous: Maternity Leave | Next: Disciplining Someone Else's Kid


Anything by Richard Scarry used to get hidden. In fact, I snuck one of them in with a load for the dump.

As for gems, "Where the Wild Things Are" has to be the best-ever read-aloud. Two more wonderful picture books to read aloud, old now and possibly out of print, though I hope not, are:
The Tub People, by Pam Conrad
17 Kings and 42 Elephants, by Margaret Mahy

Posted by: mrs whatsit | February 21, 2008 7:18 AM | Report abuse

Current Books in the constant reading cycle:

Put Me in the Zoo
Moo Baa LaLaLa
Curious George
Very Hungry Caterpillar
When its Time for Bed

I don't mind any of the repetition. I can see how good it is for my kids. For a long time Goodnight Moon was in there as was Guess How Much I love You. Now that we have on in Preschool, any Backyardigans books also suffice because that is the favorite character of the moment.

Posted by: happydad | February 21, 2008 7:35 AM | Report abuse

I've babysat but not a Mom (yet?) but I'm a huge fan of (good) children's books so I'll counter this with the list I hope I never ever get sick of:

Go Dogs Go!
One Morning in Maine
Blueberries for Sal
The Country Bunny and the Little Golden Shoes
Make Way for Ducklings

I keep deliberately buying books for my nieces that I'm pretty sure they have and then losing the receipt so Oops, now I can't take the book back -- guess I'll have to keep it!!

Posted by: ncc | February 21, 2008 7:50 AM | Report abuse

For my son:
Wheels on the Bus (pop-up)
Curious George Goes to the Movies
Rosie's walk (english/spanish version)
Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten

Usually if I ask him to pick something else he will. As happydad says I know the repetition is good for them. I have to say I marvel at parents of 3, 4 and 5 children who have to read these classics for basically 10 years and do it with as much love and enthusiasm for child 4 as they did with #1 (as least outwardly).

Posted by: PT Fed Mof2 | February 21, 2008 7:54 AM | Report abuse

Gems: anything by Patricia Polacco...

Posted by: Kristen Lewis | February 21, 2008 7:59 AM | Report abuse

Currently we're doing a lot of Seussing with Happy Birthday to You and Green Eggs and Ham.

These were constant repeats for the board book crowd that weren't too annoying:
Is Your Mama a Llama
Sheep in a Jeep
Bear Snores On
The Going to Bed Book

Posted by: Rockville Mom | February 21, 2008 8:04 AM | Report abuse

The original Winnie the Pooh books by Milne are hilarious and nothing like the dull, sappy, overly-sweet disney version.

The origiinal ones are fun to read aloud and even very young children enjoy the stories and the simple pictures.
Plus the stories are extremely entertaining.

Posted by: Amelia | February 21, 2008 8:07 AM | Report abuse

Since age 4, my great-grandson has been dinosaur happy, and I do believe that we have almost every children's book imaginable on them.
I have read the Dictionary of Dinosaurs at least 30x in past 2 years, and would LOVE to find it had gone visiting somewhere other than my bookcase. LOL
Anything by Dr. Seuss is a read over and over, and he can now read them to me, which he delights in doing.

Posted by: Margery | February 21, 2008 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Books I hide:

Any of the Carl books
Any board books that don't have a plot
Clifford's First Valentine
Dr. Seuess (I'll admit, I don't ever even buy these, because I hate them).

Most Sandra Boynton
Tumble Me Tumbily
The Frances books
The Bunnies are not in their beds

I've found that getting books out of the library is a great way to combat book boredom. We get to see which books will really hold DD's attention, and have an automatic endpoint in sight for books that we realize we don't enjoy reading over and over again. I've ended up buying DD several books after she's gotten them from the library and really loved them.

Posted by: newsahm | February 21, 2008 8:26 AM | Report abuse

I've read a Magic Schoolbus book every night for the last week. Can't take any more Ms. Frizzle.

I love Richard Scarry b/c of my own happy memories, so I'm thrilled my kids like them. However, my husband cannot stand them. He also hates any sort of "finding" book like Where's Waldo (we have Batman, Scooby, Princess, etc. ones and he hates them all). I don't mind them so much. If you do them enough times, the kids know where everything is and you can get through them pretty quickly.

Posted by: Jen | February 21, 2008 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Books to hide: books with TV characters given by family (subsequently tossed in "donate" box)
The Little Quack books by Lauren Thompson/Derek Anderson
Dr. Seuss's "I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today". Not sure why I seem to be the only one who's ever read this book, but my son loves it as much as I did.

Posted by: Tiffany | February 21, 2008 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Now that I have 2 kids who can red well, I get much tired of reading to the little ones. Its great to see them all snuggled on the couch reading to each other. SOme books that my girls LOVE that I have gotten a bit tired of are

ALL the Junie B. Jones' books- cute but not tolerable for 47 readings
The Little Match Girl- the newly illustrated one is beautiful to look at, but SO depressing.

Posted by: Momof5 | February 21, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Now that I have 2 kids who can red well, I get much tired of reading to the little ones. Its great to see them all snuggled on the couch reading to each other. SOme books that my girls LOVE that I have gotten a bit tired of are

ALL the Junie B. Jones' books- cute but not tolerable for 47 readings
The Little Match Girl- the newly illustrated one is beautiful to look at, but SO depressing.

Posted by: Momof5 | February 21, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Now that I have 2 kids who can red well, I get much tired of reading to the little ones. Its great to see them all snuggled on the couch reading to each other. SOme books that my girls LOVE that I have gotten a bit tired of are

ALL the Junie B. Jones' books- cute but not tolerable for 47 readings
The Little Match Girl- the newly illustrated one is beautiful to look at, but SO depressing.

Posted by: Momof5 | February 21, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

The Baby just hit the send button before I finished...

One more set of books that makes me crazy are the Hopscotch Hill School.

I love and will never get tired of...

Where the Wild Things are
What do you do with a Kangaroo?
The Frances books
The Ramona books (currently a favorite among my 3 year olds)
The Wizard of Oz

I love to pick long chapter books to read together as a family (baby not included yet, she just gets distracting for everyone else)

Posted by: Momof5 | February 21, 2008 8:47 AM | Report abuse

I also realized that she hit send after she edited...and nothing in my first post makes sense...Guess that's what I get for typing while parenting!

Sorry guys!

Posted by: Momof5 | February 21, 2008 8:49 AM | Report abuse

The Country Bunny and the Little Golden Shoes -- I LOVE that book, too! I can't wait for it to be out on display so that I can buy it for my friend's son for his first Easter (since I don't have kids).

Also a fan of Curious George, the Little Golden Books, Very Hungry Caterpiller, Frog and Toad, Richard Scarry, and the book about the kids that gather all the paint and paint the outside of the house while the parents are out (trying to think of the name will drive me nuts all day now).

Posted by: WDC 21113 | February 21, 2008 8:56 AM | Report abuse

I like to tell Goodnight Moon with my kids, ages 6 and 9. I use a quiet voice except that I raise my voice to a loud whisper when the old lady says "HUSH!" Cracks my kids up every time.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Books my 3 year old loves, and I highly recommend:

Too Much (Dorothy Stott)
Clippity Clop (Nicola Smee)
The Glerp (David McPhail)
The Letters are Lost (Lisa Campbell Ernst)
Where is my Friend (Simms Taback)
Dear Zoo (Rod Campbell)
Superhero ABC (Bob McLeod) (big bro loves this one too)

Posted by: acorn | February 21, 2008 9:06 AM | Report abuse

I'll second Bear Snores On! (Much better than the other books in that series--the sequels just aren't as good.)

I also love:
The King, the Mice and the Cheese
Socks for Supper
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
Outside Over There
Where the Wild Things Are
That's Not My (Puppy, Kitten, Dinosaur, etc.)

The ones I hide are those annoying make-a-sound books. Usually they are character books, and the sound is SO LOUD! I stash those in a closet until they are forgotten and then give them to Goodwill.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2008 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Books I hate:

- Whatever my 2-yr-old's current fixation is.
- Books with parts that move (and break. E.g., "Hen Goes Shopping" -- not in our house any more she doesn't).
- Books that make noises. If there's one thing worse than reading a book for the 5,000th time, it's hearing the same stupid noise for the 5000th time.

Books I love:

- Where the Wild Things Are
- Dr. Seuss' stories. I love language, especially when it flows like music and you can feel the rhyme and meter without having even to think about it. I love it when my daughter and I have time to curl up and read "The Lorax," which to me feels like water flowing over river rocks.

Posted by: laura33 | February 21, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse

I'm tired of Thomas the Tank Engine anything, even if the original stories are ok. And I don't quite get the Olivia craze.

Our current faves are:

If you give a pig a pancake
Angela's airplane (many of the Munsch books)
Alligator Pie

Posted by: shandra_lemarath | February 21, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

I used to get so tired of the repetition of the books until one day my daughter started "reading" her books to me. It's awfully cute to be flipping through Knuffle Bunny and have a child say "Twixie wealwized someding!" very excitedly (that is my transliteration of her version of "Trixie realized something"). My husband and I used to hate Jamberry too, but now it's definitely grown on us. Not sure how that happened. And I hate books with no plots - so Sandra Boynton books are huge faves in our house. My daughter is a real bookworm and scams books out of her grandfather all the time (each time they see each other she gets at least 10 new books). I'm enjoying this thread for all the books I can suggest to my dad to buy for her when he sees her in two weeks.

Posted by: anny | February 21, 2008 9:40 AM | Report abuse


Junie B. Jones - in my opinion and obnoxious, sad attempt to write in a child's voice.

Captian Underpants

The Little Critter books.


Nicholas series of books, beautifully bound and wonderfully written in the child's voice.

The Moffats series - serioulsy old school, but again true to the voice of kids and still relevant.

Pippi Longstocking and The Noisy Village series - fun and well intended missteps by pipi.

Beverly Cleary - all the Ramona books! I still remember the NO SMO-KING sign when she wanted her dad to quit! hee hee

The Treehouse books because they are good for both genders and open the door for discussions about history.

Good ol Dr. Seuss of all kinds.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | February 21, 2008 9:46 AM | Report abuse

fr laura:

>Books I hate:

- Whatever my 2-yr-old's current fixation is....

Just remember, someday your 2-year-old might feel the same way about having to hear the same stories that YOU tell, over and over.....

Posted by: Alex | February 21, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

My all time favorite children's book is Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. It went to college with me and to this day both my mother and I can recite it.

Posted by: kd | February 21, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

I never let my kids read the same books over and over again, nor watch the same videos over and over again. They stopped asking and enjoy getting something new out of the library. Sure, age 2 included many weekends when we'd read every Dr Seuss book or every curious george book, but by age 3 that was over.

I don't know what it says about my kids, honestly, that they hate watching re-runs and rarely like to hear the same book more than a dozen times. Thankfully the public library is within walking distance and stocked.

Posted by: DCer | February 21, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

I KNEW you were talking about the Magic Treehouse books before I even clicked on the link!!

Books we love:
Lionel Lionni books (Frederick)
William Steig books (Dr. DeSoto)
Maurice Sendak books (Where the Wild Things Are)
The Frances books (Bedtime for Frances)

Books we avoid!!
Dr. Seuss books
Clifford/Barney/TV character books
Paddington Bear books--which I love, but my son does not care for!

Posted by: Virgini | February 21, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

to WDC 21113:

I saw The Country Bunny and the Golden Shoes at Barnes and Noble on Saturday. I remember reading that book as a child so it stuck out to me.

While I am not a parent, I have bought numerous books for nieces and nephews and these are some of my favorites:

Click Clack Moo, Cows that Type Hilarious! My niece LOVED the book!
A Bargain for Frances
Shel Silverstein books
Anything by Beverly Cleary & Judy Blume
Angelina Ballerina

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

"Just remember, someday your 2-year-old might feel the same way about having to hear the same stories that YOU tell, over and over....."

Well, guess that's why they say payback's a b!tch, isn't it? :-)

Actually, my biggest problem is that we're NOT reading "stories." He's all into identifying things, so his favorite books right now are things like "baby's first color book." So our "reading" goes along these lines: "What color is that?" "Wed!" "Yes! What shape is it?" "Kware!" "Good job!" Really, really exceedingly cute -- the first 3, 4, 5 times through the book. . . .

Posted by: laura33 | February 21, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

How Funny! My son is also into Magic Treehouse - in exact order. I have also had trauma in the library when the one he needs isn't available. He is learning a lot about history, but I'll be glad when we're through with these.

Best all time bedtime book - The Napping House.

Posted by: HappyMom | February 21, 2008 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Ah, the good old days! The kids are older now, but when they were younger, faves included

- all Dr. Seuss, but especially Fox in Socks (I was the only one who voluntarily read it to the first graders on Dr. Seuss day)
- Mercer Mayer books
- Clifford the Big Red Dog (good friends of ours have two daughters named Emily and Elizabeth. Our kids always smile.)

No books were bad, but the "I Spy" series did get old, quickly.

Posted by: Army Brat | February 21, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

The thing about the Magic Treehouse is you can pick up the first 12 books in 3 box sets for about $30. Pretty painless.

Posted by: DCer | February 21, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

My son (2.5) loves:
Goodnight Moon (I love to read this one also)

The Wild Animal Baby magazines for
preschoolers (we read these OVER and OVER)

Cookie Countdown (with Cookie Monster)


Harold and the Purple Crayon

Ten Apples Up on Top by Dr. Seuss (fun to read too)

One book someone gave us that makes me cry every single time: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I try to stop myself, but can't!

Posted by: Rebecca | February 21, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I have a 13 month old and our current favorites are:

Each Peach Pear Plum (Alhberg)
Edwina (Mo Williams and others by him)
How big is a pig? (Barefoot Books)
Pajama Time (Boynton --really anything of hers)
Touch and feel animal farm (DK-I think)
He really likes books with flaps just now.
I currently like "I love you stinky face" (Lisa Mccourt and Cyd Moore) much more than the traditional Guess how much I love you type books.
I love Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein, Richard Scary, etc, but at the moment they are mostly too long for him. We did read him all the A.A. Milne books and they are lovely.

Also for Easter check out The Egg Tree (Katherine Milhous) for slightly older kids than mine it is great.

Current dislike- Movie inspired books, I don't like the newer George books as much as the classics. Otherwise, so far so good.

Posted by: alexandriamom | February 21, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

We love "Knuffle Bunny" and the "Olivia" books. DD especially likes it when I do
the moms voice loud when Olivia puts on moms lipstick without permission. It is in the "Band" book.

Posted by: shdd | February 21, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

in an old house in Paris
that was covered with vines
lived 12 little girls
in 2 straight lines
in 2 straight lines
they broke their bread
and brushed their teeth
and went to bed
they smiled at the good
and frowned at the bad
and sometimes they were very sad
they left the house
at half past nine...

All this, and I can't remember my cell phone number

Posted by: no more room | February 21, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

DCer: The Montgomery County Library system has used bookstores. We found a huge stack of Treehouse books at one of those stores for $1 apiece.

Posted by: Stacey Garfinkle | February 21, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Thirty years later, my mother could still recite the beginning of my favorite book as a small child. When she started to memorize her books, her parents put all of them in a stack and refused to repeat a book until the entire stack had been read again. I'm not sure I'd use that method, but it didn't seem to hurt anything.

I don't have kids yet, but as a nanny I read But Not the Hippopotamus and Moo, Baa, La La La any number of times. (I love the Boynton books, BTW.) One thing's for sure--I'd rather read the same book endlessly than see Barney over and over and over.

Posted by: Kate | February 21, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Gem: Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

Posted by: ec | February 21, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

we are fans of all the duck books - click clack moo, duck on a bike, duck for president - right now we are goign through all of the Little Men books - mr happy, etc....

Posted by: wvmom | February 21, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

My kids read on their own now, but we are still traumatized by the year-long bedtime story, The Little Engine that Could. My son never tired of it! I wasn't long, a condensed board book, but we memorized it alright!

Still favorites for my younger daughter - The Madeline books (love your memory, no more room!), Mercer Mayer (she had some sort of accent/speech thing a while back, so this sounded like Muh-Suh May-uh coming from her), and that bear - who only ate jam on toast. It'll come to me later.

Now they like the chapter books - she's into Junie B, Magic Tree House, and the like. He's into fantasy type books - just finished the Golden Compass trilogy.

But, the new favorite going around is Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Has anyone read it? Pretty fun - written in handwriting print. a quick read.

Posted by: prarie dog | February 21, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

My son loves all things Thomas, and it is hard for me not to groan whenever he brings one of those books out.

When he's open to suggestion, I steer him towards Sendak (especially "Where the Wild Things Are," but also "In the Night Kitchen") and Boynton. "Where the Wild Things Are" is the most fun for me to read out loud.

Posted by: Mouse | February 21, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Graeham Base (sp?), Sandra Boynton, Mo Willems, David Shannon (look for Fergus), Patricia Polacco, Jan Brett, John Sczecza (sp?)...
"You Are My I Love You" and the current favorites -- the Sir Cumfrence series

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Books we're weary of:
Usborne's Farmyard Stories (really don't like Usborne books)
Are you my mother? (husband is sick of that one)
Find Elmo's Blanket (nothing here to read!)
Skippyjon Jones (I'm okay with it, husband hates it)
Don't Let the Pigeon Ride the Bus (what's the big deal with this one?)

A Good Day by Kevin Henkes
Duck on a Bike
Where the Wild Things Are
Outside Over There
Alexander and the Magic Mouse (out of print)

Posted by: MaryB | February 21, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

There's a huge difference between books that aren't good and books that you've just read too much lately. I feel like this post didn't distinguish at all. My position is for books of reasonable length and good quality, parents should suck it up and realize we are not reading for our own benefit. On the other hand, books of poor quality shouldn't get a third reading.

Another thing: Library books have to be returned, and parents can fudge the return dates.

Posted by: Lynne | February 21, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Father of 2 1/3 year old.

Pat the Bunny and Goodnight Moon are not overrated, IMO. Especially Goodnight Moon - lots of things to look for.

My daughter also loves the updated Peter Rabbit. I saw the original recently and thought it was kind of weird eg when he gets caught in the net in the original the effect is that he's giving himself up for dead.

Sandra Boynton - all great - especially Snuggle Puppy and Moo Baa La La La.

Overrated: No one that I saw even mentioned them, but some of the Mother Goose classics are primers in archaic language (ever since they stopped accepted sixpence at Walmart anyway). Also, I had to change on the fly what little Johnnie Green did to the cat (tried to kill it by throwing it down the well) and of course that shoe-woman whipping her kids soundly and putting them to bed.

There are inexpensive reprints of a lot of other older books. Personally I hate Pokey Little Puppy and the Shy Little Kitten. Both too long. Plus I found the plots predictable and the supporting characters bland and stereotypical. ;-)

Posted by: SonofCarl | February 21, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

The big problem in our house is finding books that they actually understand and is somewhat appropriate for their age level.

My stepchildren just came from Peru so their first language is Spanish. It is amazing how fast my stepson (in kindergarten) is picking up English but it still makes it hard to find a book that keeps his interest because he doesn't understand the story.

So far favorites have been:
Green Eggs and ham: because of all of the repetition there is not much explanation needed. In fact, he can supply almost all of the last words in the sentences. As a bonus, we suggest that he try food because you never know.. he might like it just like Sam-I-Am (and yes we know that the tryer is not Sam-I-Am but that point is lost on him)

The Counting Book (this is about 35-40 years old) which lets him count and also showcases animals that he knows.

Favourite Barn Animals (also 35-40 years old) because again - he knows the animals and there is very little text.

We have read other books to him but it is hard to keep his attention through more than a few pages. Hopefully as his English improves he will appreciate my other toddler books more.

Posted by: Billie | February 21, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

My little guy (8 months) isn't really caring what we read yet (except he giggles when we bark for Sandra Boynton's Doggies) but I'm already ready to hide Brown Bear, Brown Bear. I think it's terribly boring to read. Like many others, I love the Boynton books.

When my parents got sick and tired of reading The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher (Beatrix Potter) to us, they made a cassette tape of my dad reading it. Saved them a few iterations.

Posted by: SPC | February 21, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and the absolute BEST books for beginning readers........... Dick and Jane. The repeition and cumulative nature make them perfect. They use all of the common words repeatedly which helps with sight reading and slowly add in more words and more difficult words such that by the end a book that starts with Work, Dick, Work ends with Help me find my ball Father said Sally. Boring as all get out to listen to, but both of my children enjoyed them.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | February 21, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Anyone do Peep and the Big Wide World? The show is AWESOME. I laugh every time I watch it. The books are so cheep ($2.95), but I just wonder if they are anywhere near as funny as the show. They aren't available at the MoCo libraries.

My favorite to read is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Skippyjon Jones is growing on me, but it's weird.

Rebecca- Me, too, with the Giving Tree. It's wonderful.

My 13 month old doesn't have any preferences.

Posted by: atb | February 21, 2008 1:24 PM | Report abuse

My daugther(who can read on her own) loves for me to read "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" to her.

Posted by: NYC | February 21, 2008 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I think "Goodnight Moon" is the most overrated children's book out there. The pictures are terrible and the "story" is plain boring. And why in the goodnight part of the book, does the author rhyme 'goodnight moon' with 'goodnight cow jumping over the moon'?

'The Cat in the Hat" is overrated too. That has been hidden under the couch for a while!

Right now my girls love "Hand, Fingers, Thumbs", "Bright Stanley", "The Bear Stays Up" and "Engine Engine Number 9"

Posted by: LBH219 | February 21, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

The original said "Goodnight commune" but that was deemed subversive.

Posted by: SonofCarl | February 21, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Wind in the Willows
My mom read that to me over a series of nights, and it was wonderful.

Posted by: ljb | February 21, 2008 2:29 PM | Report abuse

fr moxiemom1:

>Oh, and the absolute BEST books for beginning readers........... Dick and Jane. The repeition and cumulative nature make them perfect...

EWWWWWW, I hated that series in first grade; (I'm 51 now) it was SO insipid, white bread, Beaver Cleaver etc. The same words OVER and OVER and OVER. What on earth did the "author" of that trash think kids were, stupid?? Jane and Sally never got to do anything cool, dick got to all the time. Mother never went outside the house, and "Father" went to work, his white shirt and brown suit, and you never knew what he did for a living. How unrealistic could the "author" get, for pete's sake???

Posted by: Alex | February 21, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

I'm with Alex on Dick and Jane. We had those in first grade and all I learned was that I didn't want to grow up because then my life would consist entirely of vacuuming in high heels like Jane's mother. To say nothing of the vapid text. There are plenty of other simple, repetitive books out there which are more fun. For 4-6 year olds and older, Margaret Mahy rules. Our all-time favorite is "The Boy who was Followed Home." Get it out of the library - don't know if it's in print anymore. Dr. Seuss seems to be a love or hate experience - my father refused to read them and claimed Green Eggs and Ham was a classic case study of brainwashing, but another fond memory of mine is watching my brother try to read Fox in Socks to my kids and fail because he was laughing too hard. ..I think one of the little secrets of parenting is that kids' books are almost always more fun than adult literature.

Posted by: lurker | February 21, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

To atb: My son, husband and I all LOVE Peep. It always makes me laugh and I love how science and learning are neatly woven into each episode. The middle bits with the kids give me great ideas for projects to do with my son as well.
I didn't even know there were books -- I'll have to look for them.

As for my son's books --

Our entire family is a bunch of compulsive book buyers so my son's 3 tier bookshelf is already overflowing. It's hard to have have ones we like and hate when my son does such a good job of rotating through them all.

My LEAST favorite are holiday themed books. I wanted to burn my childhood copy of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer by the time Christmas came and went.

I try very hard to let my son pick the books he wants me to read. I think as long as he is getting the stories he wants, it will keep his interest in reading and in books in general.

My husband grew up next to some heathens who had 3 kids and not single book in the house, ever. The few times he and his parents were over at that house they'd look for any evidence of reading -- newspapers, tabloids, magazines, TV guides, romance novels, library books -- they found nothing. They thought it was incredibly sad that kids were growing up without a single thing to even spark their interest in reading or even demonstrate the importance of literacy.

Posted by: MadisonMama | February 21, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for reminding me that I can't find Each Peach Pear Plum. I am certainly going to check out some of the other suggestions.

Posted by: Momof5 | February 21, 2008 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Not a fan of many of the celebrity-author books. Julie Andrews Edwards needs an editor who will trim her word count by half. The Berenstain Bears books tend to be too wordy (and often, I disagree with their lesson). And I, too, dislike most TV/movie character books (exception: those that started as books...e.g. Franklin, Arthur).

I love Dr. Seuss, Richard Scarry, Cynthia Rylant (Mr. Putter and Tabby, Henry and Mudge, and more), Patricia Polacco, a lot of the James Stevenson books, "Rosie and the Yellow Ribbon", and a lot of the authors/books already mentioned here. We usually enjoy most of what we pick up at the library (we usually grab a bunch of the the books the librarians select to display on top of the bookshelves).

Posted by: Vienna VA | February 22, 2008 7:39 AM | Report abuse

There are two that come to mind when I think about the over-read; Are You My Mother and A Cat Named Fish Head. These two were staples in our household for many years.

Posted by: journeyer58 | February 22, 2008 8:09 AM | Report abuse

We have two-year-old twins. In our house, we love "Goodnight Moon" and "Goodnight Gorilla". We read those two so many times that they fell apart and I had to purchase new copies. Our kids really enjoy all the books by Eric Carle, especially Brown Bear, Brown Bear.

I don't mind repeating the same books over and over because it always seems to me that each reading is a little different. My son or my daughter might notice something different or recognize a letter and point it out, and then we talk about it and that makes the reading different from the night before.

The only books that don't do well in our house are the very-elaborate pop-up books because our kids usually end up tearing the paper and so those books don't retain their appeal as much as a nicely-written and illustrated board book does.

Posted by: mom of twins | February 22, 2008 8:56 AM | Report abuse

read 'tale of despereaux' out loud to your child if they are elementary school aged ... such a wonderful story, beautifully told ...

Posted by: tone4days | February 22, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

i'll love you forever' was a book I had to read several times before I could do it without tearing up. barnyard dance by -- i think -- boynton. My daughter loved this three little pigs book we had and I read it for a couple of months. i agree the the berenstein bears were too wordy. I want to read for 20 minutes, not 45. I did quit reading for several years after my kids started reading on their own, but started up again recently (for ten year old). We are reading a series of books by Richard Peck -- a long way from Chicago, a year down yonder and the teacher's funeral. Funny, funny, funny. I wish I could read goodnight moon to my two year old one more time. Alas, she is 14. but I do understand how it gets tiring. Listening to my kids describe the latest zach and cody episode makes me skin crawl, but it is a childhood phase that will end, and I will not get to hear her laugh over that kind of silliness.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 22, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I do not ban or censor the books my children can read. I ask them to read a favorites to me. That tends to slow them down and gives me a chance to check on their vocabulary, enunciation and comprehension

Posted by: Anonymous | February 22, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I dunno, DCer, about banning repetition for young kids (maybe yours aren't really young now?). Even when we would rather stick something in our eye than read it again, the thing is, many young kids really need repetition to help them learn.

That said, my 4 yo loves, but I could live without:
Dora books (why, oh why did I buy those?)
Scooby books (oh well, at least it keeps him interested in reading)

Current faves are:
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Bear Snores On (nice rythym)
The Very Noisy Night (very cute, but not treacly; I get to be Big Mouse often)
Goodnight Moon
Five Little Monkeys (don't waste your $$ on any but the first one)

We're going to the library this afternoon, so thanks for all the great suggestions!

Posted by: LeavingLaw | February 22, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

For our 3 1/2 year old, our favorites are:
No, David!
Mars Needs Moms (Berkely Breathed, think Opus and Bloom County)
Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good very bad day.
Where the Wild things are
Will's new cap

For our 11 month old, our favorites are:
What shall we do with the boo-hoo baby?
Snuggle Puppy
Wheels on the bus
That's not my Fairy
The very busy spider

I detest books that make noise (aside from the Very Quiet Cricket) DS has one called Snappy Town Rock and Roll Band that he loves, but I hide it every time I see it.

Posted by: IPMama | February 22, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Our 2.5 yr old daughter likes: "The Backyardigans Haunted House". Thanks for picking that one up Grandma! Being that we have never seen the show, I think it is even MORE annoying. I groan whenever she pulls it out, and her daddy says: "That is Mommy's FAVORITE book.", but she knows that I will read it to her, followed by a more enjoyable read of something else. Besides that one book, she loves to look at books, which we, of course, are delighted with.

Because both my husband and I were bookworms as kids, there are some books on her shelf that are too mature (ie - few to no pictures), and are just waiting for her to get another 4 or so years on her. She is obsessed with her Peter Pan book. She loves the story, and wants me to read the book. Besides the book being more ominous than I remembered, she gets frustrated by the lack of pictures, and turns the pages while I am trying to read. I keep hiding it. She keeps finding it & demanding to have it read to her even though "it doesn't have many pictures". When she is 7 or 8 (my age at the height of my Peter Pan interest), I am sure she will have no interest in the thing!

Posted by: MIMom | February 22, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I feel a need to add in a few excellent books that have gone unmentioned:

Old Hat, New Hat (the absolute BEST book for young kids learning to read--simple and repetitive, and yet funny, and brilliant satire at the same time!)

Any book by Helen Oxenbury, especially the Tom and Pippo books (also for young pre-readers)

"Everywhere Babies" is a delightful board book I didn't mind reading multiple times.

Once the kids are slightly older, move to anything by Kevin Henkes. Brilliantly written, and the illustrations add clever humor for the adults.

Duck in the Truck by Jez Alborough is great for humor and meter.

And of course I second the recs of Sendak (try One Monster after Another) and Silverstein, Boynton, and Suess. You can't go wrong there.

Posted by: teresacurl | February 22, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm weighing in late on this one, but it's good to get this off my chest:I don't care if I never see another Richard Scary book again. My kids are a little older now(6 and 10) and HP obsessed. I can read about Harry over and over again without growing tired. I think we're on trip three through the series out loud at this point, and I've read them twice more to myself. They never get old. When they were younger we also never tired of Frog and Toad. They were the best.

Posted by: mom on Cape | February 22, 2008 7:10 PM | Report abuse

One more I remember loving to read aloud that I never tired of when they were very young - Time for Bed... I think that was the name... "It's time for bed little mouse little mouse, darkness is falling all over the house..."

Posted by: mom on Cape | February 22, 2008 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Anything by Margaret Wise Brown. So much fun to read aloud.

I think she was really a beat poet who figured out how to make a good living at it.

Posted by: TBG | February 23, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

These books are for the kids; If THEY like them, then read the book to them.
This is not meant to be for you.
Not everything is about the parent.

Posted by: Chatelaine | February 23, 2008 7:47 PM | Report abuse

We used to be enthralled by
The April Rabbits,
Even for a Mouse, and
Very Scary Things.

I have to admit--I liked them too, for the first 40 times.

Posted by: Ellem | February 23, 2008 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Sure repeated readings can get tiresome. But without them, how could one ever have the delight of lying in a hammock with one's (2 or 3 year old?) prereader, 1000 miles away from your copy of "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom", reciting it from memory .... and, when you pause, having her say excitedly, "And THEN you turn the page, and you say ...."

Posted by: Treefrog | February 23, 2008 8:53 PM | Report abuse

SonofCarl -- I agree! Upon re-reading some of the classic nursery rhymes, I can't get over how violent they are. Whipping children soundly, throwing people down the stairs. Geesh!

My 2 year old has gotten into Dora and unfortunately owns 4 Dora books (only one bought by us, and I've been smacking my self ever since). I could never read another Dora book again.

Ones I like include Dr. Seuss and the Boynton books. Horton Hears a Who, the Lorax, and Corduroy are some of my favorites, but they are a little too long to hold my daughter's interest.

Posted by: DC Mom | February 25, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

a giraffe and a half
make way for ducklings
a fish out of water
pj funny bunny
caps for sale

Posted by: voracious reader | February 27, 2008 8:40 AM | Report abuse

We've gotten a lot of good book ideas from the PBS show "Between the Lions" including:

Click, Clack, Moo - Cows that Type
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble
Joseph Had a Little Overcoat
The Chap with Caps

Other gems - these are both great books to read aloud with interesting sounds and rhymes but not Dr. Seuss-y:

A Very Special House (Ruth Krause)

Another gem for young toddlers:

Good Night Gorilla

We also enjoy the Frog and Toad books by Alfred Lobel and the Otto books by Todd Paar. FYI my daughter is now 3.5.

Posted by: viennamom | February 27, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse

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