Okay, I lied: I do read to my children. I have found it really excruciating for a few years, though. I noticed that I made up excuses to pawn off bedtime reading to my husband. Then I read Mem Fox’s Reading Magic and I realized that I didn’t read aloud much to my boys because the books on their shelves BUGGED ME.
They had stacks of books with kind of ugly machine-generated pictures and even uglier, machine-generated prose. So one day I snuck into their room and culled out the books that made me feel crabby when I looked at them. It was an amazing shift.
I love to read a book that’s worth reading. Here’s my (growing) list of books that make you want to read them—books with beautiful pictures that make you want to know what’s happening next; books with lyric prose (not sing-songy rhyme—the real stuff, the stuff poetry is made of); books with stories that end in a real way and don’t try to sneak up on a kid and try to talk them into believing something that doesn’t quite fly. Real books.
Henny Penny by Jane Wattenberg [This book is so full of words that want to go together that it's like having all kinds of good food in your mouth when you read it.]
The Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown & Felicia Bond [This author of Good Night Moon is so good at rhyme that doesn't turn into lymric. A really beautiful, soothing book.]
Arnie the Doughnut by Laurie Keller [Laurie Keller is a kid book writing genuis.]
The Leaf Men by William Joyce [A terrific fairy story with nifty watercolor and ink illustrations.]
The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant and Stephen Gammel [This is one of those books you want to be in when you read it.]
Heckedy Peg by Audrey & Don Wood [The duo of Woods always make books with terrific pictures. The story here a little scary ("Heckedy Peg had one leg . . ."), but ultimately about a mom who is clever enough to outsmart a crabby witch lady and bring her big brood of kids home.
I say hold out for books that are beautiful. But that’s just my 42 cents.
**Hey--and here's a nifty list (that I will add links to later) from my friend Sunshine:
Books the Frawley Family Recommends You Check Out!
Owen - Kevin Henkes
Ira Sleeps Over - Bernard Waber
Jamberry - Bruce Degen
Slugs - Victoria Chess
Max the Minnow - William Bonaface
Curious George books - Margaret & H.A. Rey
Frog and Toad books - Arnold Lobel
Chickens Aren't the Only Ones - Ruth Heller (All books by her!)
I Like Me - Nancy Carlson
Pierre / Chicken Soup with Rice - Maurice Sendak
Clifford books - Norman Bridwell
Little Critter books - Mercer Mayer
The Monster at the End of This Book - Jon Stone (Sesame Street book)
The Berenstain Bears books - Stan and Jan Berenstain
Fortunately - Remy Charlip
Everyone Poops - Taro Gomi
Widget - Lyn Rossiter McFarland
Art Dog - Thacher Hurd
It Could Always Be Worse - Margot Zemach
Peabody - Rosemary Wells
Tikki Tikki Tembo - Arlene Mosel
Bob the Snowman - Sylvia Loretan
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad Day - Judith Viorst
Sippyjon Jones - Judy Schachner
Olivia books - Ian Falconer
The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear - Don and Audrey Wood (All books by them!)
The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Eric Carle (All books by him!)
Knuffle Bunny - Mo Williems
The Paper Bag Princess - Robert Munsch (All books by him!)