Some Great! (and a couple not-so-great) Children’s Books

May 16, 2014  —  Written by Julia Marcum 

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When we showed Faye’s room last week, a few of you (it may have been on Instagram) asked about what books we’re loving these days especially when you saw the book ledges in her room.


We have children’s books spread out in three or four different places in the house–in the nursery, there’s a stack in the reading room, downstairs with the games and a couple in Greta’s room–but since Faye came along, we’ve been doing most of our reading in here. I rotate books a lot because Greta seems to constantly pick the same ones for me to read to her and variety is the spice of life, as it were. In fact, I have hid two particular books because not only can I not stand to read them one more time, I also plain don’t like these books:


Run, run run from these books! Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel I have read so many times and it’s fine, I guess. But I would be completely fine never reading it again. Curious George Gets a Medal is up for the worst children’s book in our home award. Chris and I are pretty convinced that H. A. Rey had no plan for this book, just kept writing and writing and making it up as he went. It could have been 6 different Curious George books–that’s how many different story lines there seems to be. There’s a letter. There’s a flood. There are cows and a museum and a trip to space?! We love other Curious George books, but this has got to be the longest, non-plot one we’ve ever read. If you find yourself only reading the first sentence on each page (like we were doing with this book) it might be time to rotate it out…and never bring it back.

Now on to a few good ones! My favorite books growing up were Bread and Jam for Frances, because it was/is dedicated to a Julia, and that hooked me. Now I love it because it helps Greta understand she can’t have a quesadilla for breakfast, lunch and dinner and snack. What a sad Frances, I mean Greta, that would make. I also loved Ruby the Copycat–which I absolutely need to find and add to this rotation. Jamie Lee Curtis’s book, Today I Feel Silly & Other Moods that Make My Day is a wonderful book that has a good meter to it. It goes through a dozen or so moods and feelings that you might feel and sweetly explains–it’s okay to feel that way. Love this one.


Dallas Clayton is kind of a modern-day Seuss. His books are heart-warming (and tear-inducing depending on hormone levels!), fun, and complete with silly illustrations. There’s no doubt in my mind these two An Awesome Book and It’s Never Too Late will become quick favorites among you and your children. We received both as a gift and let me tell you–greaattt gifts!!


The BabyLit collections are quickly becoming hot items for good reason–they’re the classics beautifully illustrated, child-appropriate (so, no, they don’t show romeo and juliet killing themselves at the end), and teach principles like color and numbers. You could frame each board page. Grab a couple for you and some for gifts, too.


There are several more we’re loving on these shelves–mostly all of them in the nursery right now (although I wish that Rainbow fish was nicer!)–but these are just the highlights. What  books are you loving (or can’t stand to read one more time) these days?

What do you think?

  1. Tanya says:

    Hello! This is super random but I am creating a baby shower invite for my sister and am wondering if you would be ok with me using the first image in this post as the cover of the postcard? It will be going out to 20 family/friends and I am happy to give you credit :) let me know!

  2. Giordi Yunge says:

    Anything by Kevin Henkes is a perennial favorite at our house. “Chrysanthemum” is probably at the top of the list although anything with Lily is also delightful.
    Also, you’re wrong about that Curious George book being the dumbest in the world. That award goes to this Thomas the Train book that made no sense at all we finally had to throw it away. There was no plot and “characters” would just appear out of nowhere with no background at all. I wanted to rip my hair out every time we read it.

  3. Vanessa M. says:

    would you mind sharing where you got the shelves to hold your books?

  4. Laura B. says:

    Julia, I think you would love “Please Bring Balloons” by Lindsay Ward. It’s one of the most beautifully illustrated books and the story is magical and unique. Seriously, every kid needs this book.

    Quick question: are 20×24 frames easy to get? I want to order one of your prints, but I’m not sure where to get a 20×24 frame. (Of course, I’d like to do custom framing, but I’d have to save up for that down the road!) Thanks for any insight :).

  5. Chris says:

    My main problem with Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel is, it’s not a happy ending. They make it out like it’s the best thing ever, but Mike becomes a janitor and his steam shovel is sentenced to spend the rest of her days in a dark, cold dungeon. At least they have each other, I guess…

  6. Alison says:

    This is off topic, have you done Greta the greats room?

  7. Susan M says:

    I HATE the Rainbow Fish Book(s).

    Loved Mike Mulligan when I was a kid, but never read it to my kids. Loved Guji Guji, all things Sandra Boynton, and my kids loved Bark, George…

  8. Cindy says:

    Have you read any of Mo Willems’ books? Elephant and Piggie are hilarious, as is the Knuffle Bunny series. SO creative. One thing my husband pointed out is that the Knuffle Bunny books have a strong father presence, and not all books do. He loved that.

    One of our favorites was “I Love You the Purplest.” The illustrations are amazing, plus it addressed the theme of having two children who both want their mom’s fullest attention. I never got tired of that one.

    My boys loved the book “What Makes a Rainbow?” when they were infants. Maybe it’s the bright colors? Highly recommend.

  9. Stephanie says:

    I LOVE mike Mulligan and can’t wait to read it to my little girl (I hope mom still has my copy) I too loved bread and jam for fancies (I had it on tape) We read a lot of good night moon, good night gorilla and I really enjoy reading the little blue truck. But my daughters favorites…her children’s bible and her abc book.

  10. Rebecca says:

    Thanks for this post! I just requested all your ‘good’ book choices at our library to read with my kids – love information like this – now I need some good suggestions for a getting ready to go to 6th Grade girl :) Reading is great!

  11. shanley says:

    obsessed with the oliver jeffers books, and we don’t even have kids yet – just love reading them to all our nieces and nephews. So adorable, and have had rave reviews from those we’ve gifted them to. Check them out:

  12. Sophie says:

    I love Eric Carle’s books, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Mixed Up Chameleon and The T

  13. Liz says:

    Jamberry is our very favorite book! Our little is only 11 months, but she will sit through this book every time. The pictures are very detailed, and it’s just a fun story that isn’t too wordy. We recently participated in a book tree and it was the book we sent. We absolutely LOVE it :)

  14. Haley says:

    I like Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel, but I may feel differently after reading it a million times. I love THE NIGHT YOU WERE BORN, most Sandra Boynton books, and pretty much every board book that my daughter (1 year old) can play with and flip through herself.

  15. Susan says:

    This book is poetry all about colors-
    “what is white/blue/pink” etc. My kids loved it, and I used it in my middle school classroom writing classes as well.

    I see Goodnight Moon on your shelves-our twins are 28. I can STILL recite this from memory!
    Dr Seuss is always good.

    The book that made me crazy was “The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes.”
    Loved the premise-girls/moms/females can do whatever is needed ( mom bunny fills in for the Eater dude) and can do it with aplomb…
    The rich text is detailed and LOOOOONG.
    Of course, my daughter wanted me to read it every. single.night. from the time it appeared in her Easter basket until the time it, um, disappeared a while from the bookshelf, LOL.

    As a teacher, I know that reading to babies makes a difference. Searching out richly worded books with varied vocabulary is more than fun-it makes brains grow! Congrats on making reading a priority in your home-you’d be shocked at how many people don’t do that.

    • Julia says:

      I am checking out that book right now for us and my mother–who teaches middle school English! Thanks Susan.

  16. Jeanna says:

    Nope, Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel were much beloved in our house! Both of my boys couldn’t get enough of it, and while I eventually got tired of reading the same book over and over, I still did whenever they asked because I knew how very much they loved it :)

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