Warning: this is a pretty long and sometimes irrelevant preamble for a post that is meant to be a list of books. If you want to just skip ahead to the list below please do so. I won’t hold it against you. If you are, in fact, a fan of my ramblings, I’m honored. Thank you and read on.
I have spent the past two weeks not being particularly productive. The sink in my studio is not operational yet, so no printing for me (boohoo). Also, I managed to hurt my neck and back in a rather flamboyant accident involving a mini trampoline and a lot of drywall. How typical of me – why get whiplash from a straightforward car accident, when you can do it circus clown style? Will I ever grow up? Even my injuries sound immature. Because of this (snort) injury, my full move back into the studio has been stalled and I have no super exciting artwork to post about. So I’m writing about my next most favorite thing.
Specifically picture books for kids. Specifically picture books that you can enjoy with your kids without grinding your teeth or spacing out. We have all been there. I have had to sit through gruelling sessions of reading all about dump trucks/Wonderpets/Scottish Fold Cats (what the hell is a Scottish Fold Cat? I’ve read the book and I still don’t know) with fake enthusiasm while really thinking about my to-do list. This is a list of books that I genuinely love to read with kids, any kids. Books that *adults can really get into alongside children.
*If you are a super serious adult who has no childish glee, mischief, or immaturity left in you. An adult who thinks Harry Potter is, gasp, childish; this list may not work for you. You poor soul. Go and buy a superhero costume and a large ice cream sundae.
Bread and Jam for Francis – Russell Hoban
This book is a winner purely for the long descriptive passages about food. There is a part where Francis’ friend unpacks a huge lunch at school that makes me so very happy. Also, points for sweet old time nostalgia that isn’t cloying at all.
Charlie and Mouse – Laurel Snyder
A lovely series about the everyday life of two very cute boys. The dialogues are so very funny and poignant, especially when about family. The illustrations are lovely to look at. Something about this series makes us feel so relaxed and ready to cuddle.
Backbeard And The Birthday Suit – Matthew McElligott
Okay, who doesn’t like doing pirate voices? Well being English, I consider myself an expert when it comes to pirate voices. I’ve been to the West Country. I’m also an excellent Hagrid. I will never, NEVER tire of Backbeard, the pirate dandy with a hairy back. That’s all I really need to say here. You want to read this book already, don’t you?.
The Illustrated Harry Potter Series – JK Rowling
Yes to anything Potter, yes to Jim Kay’s beautiful illustrations that keep my very wriggly, but visual son focused on this book. So excited to introduce him to the Potterverse. Oh the discussions we shall have…
Oh No George! – Chris Haughton
We first read this when my son was six, to teach him about self control in an amusing way. This book is still beloved by my eight year old son, my twelve year old daughter, and my fourteen year old niece! “Read about George” they scream. Because George is so very lovable. The expressions on the face of this dog, and the messes he gets into are hilarious and adorable. I defy anyone to not have a giggle when reading this.
Hello Lighthouse – Sophie Blackall
A favourite bedtime read of ours. So beautiful, and so packed with interesting information. We love the illustration that shows the inside of a lighthouse in minute detail and can spend so much time staring at it together. I often geek out at the information about lighthouses in the back of the book after my kid has fallen asleep.
This Is How We Do It – Matt LaMothe
Another fascinating book about children’s lives in other countries that I geek out at. I sometimes get fixated by a page and have to be gently nudged on by my kids (who also love this book, by the way).
Rabbit and Bear – Rabbit’s Habits – Julian Gough and Jim Field
Rabbit’s habits are pretty disgusting, just warning you. This book will make you snort out loud in horror and delight. Fun fact – Neil Gaiman recommends this book, and if it’s good enough for Neil, then…
Fortunately The Milk – Neil Gaiman
You didn’t think I’d forget Neil, did you? I never forget Neil. He has written a lot of beautiful things for both kids and adults, but this is the one that works for all ages and sizes. This book is basically a long, ridiculous, funny yarn that a dad spins for his kids to explain why he took so long to buy a carton of milk. I have a soft spot for all things Neil Gaiman, so I may be biased here. No, I’m not biased. It’s an excellent read.
Also, in case you want to avoid incidents like the playdate in 2011, when my husband was almost reduced to tears by having to watch and deconstruct a My Little Pony DVD with my daughter and friend. I’d like to recommend the English TV Series Horrible Histories for older kids (3rd grade and up?) with a dark sense of humor, and of course Captain Underpants for everyone because, come on, he is funny (don’t pretend you are too old)!
Yes, we certainly have come a long way since the dark days of Barney and Arthur. Now go and giggle over a good book/show, you crazy kids.