Yes, reading to your kids is important, because it can result in better literacy skills later. Besides that, many kids love it when someone reads to them.
Here are 10 of my favorites, all available from Amazon. They’ll make you want to read to your kids.
Jeremy Draws a Monster, Peter McCarty. Jeremy plays alone in his room and loves to draw. He draws a monster to keep him company, and finds that he’d rather send the monster on the next bus out of town. It’s the illustrations that make this book really great. We bought it at the Art Institute of Chicago’s gift shop after seeing an exhibition of drawings used to illustrate children’s books.
Those Darn Squirrels, Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri. Old Man Fookwire is a grumpy man whose joys in life are painting birds and eating cottage cheese with pepper. He puts up bird feeders to keep the birds there longer. When the squirrels discover the feeders, they scheme to take all the bird seed. Eventually, the squirrels and Old Man Fookwire find a way to coexist.
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Mo Willems. The bus driver has to leave for a few minutes, and the pigeon wants to drive the bus while he’s gone. Will you and your kid stop him? All you have to do is say “no” (repeatedly) to the pigeon as he gets more and more desperate.
Knuffle Bunny, Mo Willems. A dad and his toddler daughter Trixie go to the laundromat and accidentally leave Trixie’s favorite toy, Knuffle Bunny in the wash. Still unable to speak, Trixie throws a grade A tantrum to persuade her dad to go back for Knuffle Bunny.
Knuffle Bunny Free, Mo Willems. The last of the series, and my favorite, is this newly released book. It’s the bittersweet tale of a girl who brings her Knuffle Bunny on the plane, leaves it there, learns to live without her special toy, and finds it on the flight back. She’s overjoyed to find Knuffle Bunny again, but realizes she’s grown up enough that she doesn’t need him any more. This book makes me tear up every time I read it.
Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch, Eileen Spinelli and Paul Yalowitz. Mr. Hatch is a man who lives by himself, works in a shoelace factory, and never talks to anyone. On Valentine’s Day, he gets a mysterious box of candy from a secret admirer. The effort to figure out who sent him the candy transforms his life.
Make Way for Ducklings, Robert McCloskey. Yes, it’s an old book, and the sepia-toned illustrations don’t look modern. And sure, the gender roles of Mr. and Mrs. Mallard are a bit dated (He goes away for a while while she handles the babies.). But the text of the story sounds so great when you read it aloud. And the author’s obvious familiarity with Boston gives the book a real sense of place.
Olivia, Ian Falconer. Yes, the author “sold out” and made a cartoon show out of his characters. But Olivia has such spunk it’s hard not to like her. And the drawings are visually interesting and fun to look at.
Martha Calling, Susan Meddaugh. Martha, the talking dog, calls into a radio show and wins a weekend at a country inn. The only catch? No dogs allowed. Martha finds a way to come along on the weekend anyways, and then gives the owners a piece of her mind. Yes, it’s also been converted to a cartoon show, but the book came first.
Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss/Theodore Geisel. This is the first book I learned to read on my own. It was written using only 50 words, 49 of them monosyllabic. Though the text is repetitious, it doesn’t feel boring. And the illustrations are lots of fun. It’s not Seuss’ top-selling book on Amazon, and it’s perhaps not as well known as the Cat and the Hat, but it’s a great book for kids who are just, or almost, beginning to read.