December 11, 2007

Children's Books I love

A friend who's baby is still a few months away from being born asked me for some suggestions for children's books because she wants to start building a library. Assuming she has the basic classics covered, here's a list of slightly less well known books that my sons and I love. Many of these books are out of print but can easily be found on Amazon, ebay, or on Here are a few to get you started...

The Birthday Party - Maurice Sendak
Little Blue and Little Yellow - Lionni
May I Bring A Friend - de Regniers
Where Everyday Things Come From - Aldren Watson
Tall Book of Nursery Tales - Feodor Rojankovsky
The Tall Book of Make Believe - Garth Williams
A Tail is a Tail - Katherine Mace
Rotten Island - William Steig
Doctor Desoto - William Steig
Today's Basic Science - Navarra and Zafforoni
Henri's Walk to Paris - Saul Bass
The Wonderful House - Margert Wise Brown
Choo Choo - Virginia Lee Burton
The Dead Bird - Margaret Wise Brown
The Line Up Book - Marisabina Russo
What Makes A Shadow?- Clyde Robert Bulla
Tiny Nonsense Stories
Goodnight Gorilla - Peggy Rathman

My general advice on buying kids books:

1. Always buy hardcover. A used hardcover is usually better than a new softcover. If your kids loves a book, he will read it hundreds of times. Softcover books just don't hold up.

2. As a general rule avoid celebrity authors.

3. Avoid modern "message" books.

4. Love the politically incorrect. The Tiny Nonsense Stories feature gun wielding kittens, cigarette smoking ducks, and pig families that sneak around scaring the daylights out of each other. Kids of course love these stories.

5. For vintage books, never worry about finding a first edition if you plan on actually reading your children's books. Your kids will want to bring them to the dinner table, they will bend them, tear, them and so on. This is how children's books like to be read. Just find the cleanest cheapest copy you can find.

If you are looking for more book buying ideas, check out this japanese site which always has a well curated selection of vintage visually spectacular kid's books... (the little links that read A-C, D-F, and so on show thumbnails of the covers)

posted at 02:30 AM by raul

Filed under: on kids

TAGS: advice (4) children's books (12) suggestions (2)


12/11/07 06:40 AM

"The Tiny Nonsense Stories feature gun wielding kittens, cigarette smoking ducks, and pig families that sneak around scaring the daylights out of each other. Kids of course love these stories."--

truer words were never spoken. We are all seeking the limits of our boundaries, kids more than anyone. It's through the incongruities and often, the "politically incorrect" that we learn about social rules. Whether we want to break them is another matter : )

Thanks also for the curio books link, a gem.

( In my next reincarnation, I want to come back as your daughter)

12/11/07 11:23 AM

Yes on all points. A few more for the list:

10 Minutes till Bedtime by Peggy Rathman- pure visual genius. Hardly any words and really smart & chaotic pictures with loads of detail that you can spend a long time with. For example, down the street in the background of one, you'll note the zookeeper and animals from Goodnight Gorilla.

Also, the series of Poppleton books by Cynthia Rylant are some of our favorites around here. The daily trials of a slovenly, but pure-hearted pig.

12/12/07 01:32 AM

Great list. I can add one that I've only found in French, but that is by a Japanese author. La Vie de Kuma Kuma. Modern, touching, irreverent, dreamy.

12/12/07 04:24 AM

You have just solved my Christmas wishlist. Check out Bruno Munari.

12/12/07 04:50 AM

@alfredo I'm definitely a Bruno Munari fan. I have The Zoo Book, ABC, and The Discovery of the Circle... I should have also added a few Paul Rand books to the list...

@fsowalla La Vie de Kuma Kuma is new to me... I'll seek it out.

12/18/07 09:39 PM

I randomly stumbled upon a link to grain edit where they show a slideshow of the beautiful pages in the book "Henri's walk to Paris". Thought you might be interested:

01/19/08 03:06 AM

You would love FLOTSAM by David Wiesner; the story is told in beautifully-drawn photographs -- and one of the main protagonists is a magical camera.

"At the seaside, a boy holds a magnifying glass up to a flailing hermit crab; binoculars and a microscope lay nearby. The array of lenses signals the shifting viewpoints to come, and in the following panels, the boy discovers an old-fashioned camera, film intact. A trip to the photo store produces astonishing pictures: an octopus in an armchair holding story hour in a deep-sea parlor; tiny, green alien tourists peering at sea horses. There are portraits of children around the world and through the ages, each child holding another child's photo. After snapping his own image, the boy returns the camera to the sea, where it's carried on a journey to another child. "


02/11/08 09:01 AM

You'd probably love both Mo Willems's "I Am Invited to a Party!" and "My Friend Is Sad," which are both incredibly expressive and joyful books that are both crushingly simple and quite compelling. Great writing and great drawings.

His other books, Knufflebunny and the any of the ones about the pigeon aren't nearly as wild or entertaining.

02/11/08 09:05 AM

Bad internet etiquette, I forgot the links to whet your appetite and gently encourage you:

I Am Invited to a Party!:

My Friend is Sad:

12/30/08 03:08 PM

One word of advice -- if you find a book you love, buy TWO (hardcover of course). Nothing broke my heart like trying to find an old favorite I had for my children and finding it was OUT OF PRINT!! Inexplicably, publishers let the BEST books die!

My daughter has been giving me out of print classics for my birthday so I can read them to my little grandchildren. I am currently looking for Feodor Rojankovsky's Tall Book of Nursery Tales (which is how I came upon this site). I had this book and the companion of nursery rhymes when I was a child. I forget the name but I never forget the "little girl with the curl" who was usually very good but "when she was bad she was horrid." My father used to read it to me, and I was sure I was that little girl. It made a lasting impression.

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