Part 1 of 3 for a series of posts in the Writing 101 course.

My son is pretty cute, so a lot of the requests he makes are pretty hard to turn down.  And though I’ve mastered the art of steeling myself to say no to his requests to eat cookies for dinner and play outside in a blizzard, there is one request to which I try to always, always, say yes.

“Read this book, Mommy.”

I note with pride here that this was actually the first complete sentence this child spoke.  He’s got two career educators for moms, and we know the value of reading to children from an early age.  My son’s home library could stock a small children’s bookstore, and he’s been getting read-alouds from both of us since the day we brought him home from the hospital.

For this three-part series, I thought I would focus on reading aloud with children, which is something that I do think gets lost today.  TV and iPads have made it far too easy to neglect the important act of reading with your child, and as teacher I see the effects of this in the classroom and in the school library every day.  Don’t get me wrong, my son gets his share of screen time–carefully selected apps and shows, and always monitored by us closely.  But we always make time to read with him–especially when he ask for it on his own.

Part 1: The Books from My Childhood

Today’s post, part one of this series on the lost practice of reading to kids, will focus on something that brings me a special kind of joy in reading aloud with my son, and that’s sharing with him books that I loved as a child. During a visit to my parents when I was pregnant, I had a great time raiding my childhood bookshelves, reliving the memories and anticipating sharing them with my soon-to-be-born baby.  I’m happy to say that the following books I loved as a child now rank among my toddler’s most-requested books, as well.

It’s Not Easy Being a Bunny by Marilyn Sadler


This story, referred to by my toddler as simply “PJ Funnybunny,” the main character, is great for a few reasons.  It touches on the desire all kids have at one point or another to run away from home and see what it’s like to be someone else–while also teaching the lesson of learning to value who you are and where you come from. There’s also humor that adults will appreciate, and a chance to teach the important early literacy skill of using illustrations to make an inference. (“Why didn’t PJ like living with the skunks?”)

Where Will The Animals Stay by Stephanie Calmenson

animalsstayThere is so much to love about this book.  The easy, rhythmic rhyme scheme holds a toddler’s attention.   The ridiculous charm of animals moving into an apartment building during zoo renovations is delightful.  The “scared polar bear” who needs a teddy bear to help be away from home resonates with little ones.  My son’s favorite part is yelling the central question of the story when we get to that part, “Where will the animals stay?!?” As an added bonus, the basis of the story in a zoo being remodeled to give the animals more free-range space helps teach kids that, as the story says, “Animals in cages are sad to see/They need lots of space, they like to roam free.”

Oh, What a Busy Day! by Gyo Fujikawa

busy dayAlthough my wife teases me about my love for this “weird” book, I’m proud to have passed my fondness for it on to our son.  Admittedly, it’s pretty dated, and a bit scattered and random, but the illustrations are truly lovely.  Also, I think the slightly helter-skelter feel of it really reflects what a typical day might seem like through toddler eyes.  I loved this book as a little girl, and I take a lot of joy in reading my original copy with my son.

What are your favorite books from childhood?  Have you shared any of them with your kids?