My Son's Top 5 Favorite Books

Between my love of literature and my experiences as an English teacher and a youth librarian, my son and I have read A LOT of children’s books together; here are his top five favorite books of all time. 

5. Where The Wild Things Are, Story and Pictures by Maurice Sendak (1963)

Sure, it might be a clichĂ© to have Where The Wild Things There Are on a top five children’s book list… but there’s a reason it’s a beloved classic. I truly believe that anyone who fights loving this book is letting their fear of being basic get in the way of experiencing true magic; the reason I think the book is so popular is because of its dual appeal to both children and adults. There was a period when we read this book every night, and I could recite the entire story on demand. For those who are uncomfortable with improv, there are three pages of wild rumpus for you to work out your stage fright and get creative on your feet, not to mention voicing Max… i.e., BE STILL! 

4. The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, Pictures by Clement Hurd (1942)

I would have never discovered this book if not for a Barnes & Noble display around Easter time, and really, this isn’t even an Easter-specific book; it just involves a bunny mother and (presumably) son duo. The illustrations alternate between black and white sketches and imaginative watercolor scenes, while the son concocts different scenarios in which he’ll run away from his mother. The mother reassures him that there is no use to this, because she will always find him. Though written in 1942, there is something everlasting about this book that has the most cozy ending, just perfect for bedtimes. 

3. Go to Sleep. Groundhog! by Judy Cox, Illustrated by Paul Meisel (2004)

Go to Sleep, Groundhog! sounds like a Groundhog’s Day book, but it’s actually fit for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, AND Groundhog’s Day! That’s because Groundhog can’t stay asleep, and he wakes up on every holiday after Columbus Day. Essentially, Groundhog cycles through five bedtimes throughout this book, making it a bedtime book that makes you feel sleepy and want to curl up in your own “warm cozy bed” when it's over. This is another book that I stumbled on while shelving at the library, and I thought, “A Groundhog’s Day book; how often do you find one of those?” We loved it so much that when I went to buy a copy for keeps, I had to look around for a used one, as it is shockingly out-of-print. What a shame for such a gem to be put out of fresh circulation…

2. On the Night of the Shooting Star by Amy Hest and Jenni Desmond (2017)

Again, I found this book in my days working at the library. It came over to the children’s department from tech processing in the shiny and new pile, which I was lucky enough to sift through before anyone else (definite job perk). My son loved it so much, it was one of those books that we needed to own in order to read OVER AND OVER AGAIN. It’s about neighbors, Bunny and Dog, who don’t really talk to each other until the night of the shooting star. Afterward, they decide to share biscuits (Dog’s) and cocoa (Bunny’s), which always makes me want biscuits and cocoa, too. Then of course, Bunny and Dog become the bestest of friends. The story is a wonderful reminder for both children and adults that making friends can be as easy as saying hello. 

1. Wolf In The Snow by Matthew Cordell (2017)

Wolf In The Snow is a wordless picture book, similar to those three pages of wild rumpus, and is much like Where The Wild Things Are in another way in that it has that getting lost and finding your way back home theme. I asked my son why Wolf In The Snow was his favorite, especially since it doesn’t have words, and he said, “I don’t know, it just is,” which was honestly the most honest review of this story, because it’s difficult to put into words how sweet this book feels. In some parts you’re worried, other parts scared, and you don’t really see the ending coming in the most wonderful way. When we read it, I narrate the story based on what’s going on in the pictures, but other times, we’ve turned the pages slowly without saying anything at all. Either way, you must act out the onomatopoeia, which is one of our favorite words to say. If for nothing else, check this story out simply for the opportunity to say and discuss the art of onomatopoeia. 

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