A Few Good Children’s Books

If you’ve visited us here at ESI very often, you’ve probably gathered that we’re big fans of reading. And that enthusiasm, it should be noted, is not focused solely on adults. On the contrary, I’m convinced one of the best things parents can do with and for their young kids is to read with them on a consistent basis.

I say that for more reasons than I could do justice to in a single post. But I’ll briefly mention a few:

1. Artistry, imagination, and creativity are good gifts from God that we’re meant to employ and enjoy. One could hardly do better to encourage these things than by reading with your kids even at a very early age.

2. The Christian faith is based squarely on the written word, i.e., God’s authoritative revelation of his actions in history and their significance is found in the Bible. If we would grow in our understanding of God and his purposes, good reading skills will certainly help.

3. Reading is obviously crucial to understanding and interacting with others, as well as the world in which we live. It not only gives us the opportunity to experience, after a fashion, far more than our individual age, location, time period, etc. would otherwise allow, but it also hones critical thinking and communication skills. The practical implications of this are legion, from greater aptitude in nearly any vocation to increased skill in sharing the gospel.

4. Reading with your kids is a simple way for you to love them. If you want proof of this, look no further than your kids’ faces when your spouse or someone else reads a book to them.

With all that in mind, my wife and I have run across several good books for preschoolers (remember, not all children’s books are created equal!). In writing up these recommendations, I’ve realized this is the first time I’ve had to articulate why my kids and/or I like these books. I’m not sure I’ll get a job with a children’s literature review any time soon, but here goes:

1. The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson and Beth Krommes—With warm, engaging illustrations and a cumulative reading pattern, this book offers kids an imaginative and reassuring view of the night. A good “before-they-go-to-bed book.”

2. Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman—If you want to help your kids learn to love well-crafted language—its choice and placement of words, pleasing sounds, pacing, etc.—this book is a great fit. Also wonderfully illustrated.

3. Potato Joe by Keith Baker—A book that encourages counting skills with a simple, pleasing rhyme scheme. I think this was one of the first books that my oldest son Jack would anticipate the words to (with gusto!) when “reading” along.

4. Snowmen at Night and Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn and Mark Buehner—What do snowmen do when everyone else is asleep? These books provide a wonderfully imaginative answer. Two added bonuses: each illustration offers hidden items to find and your kids will be much more likely to build snowmen themselves when they get the chance.

5. Pajama Time, Barnyard Dance, Belly Button Book, etc. by Sandra Boynton. Boynton has written a whole host of books and we now own several. The best way for me to describe them? Fun…well-conceived fun.

6. Peep by Kevin Luthardt—Probably the first book Jack loved. Told mostly in pictures, it nevertheless gets kids acclimated to following a story. Wish I had a dollar for every time we’ve read this to our kids, particularly when they were just starting with books.

Well, that’s a small start. There are many more. Happy reading everyone.

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