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48 must-have children’s books to add to your collection

Audrey’s sweet dormer window reading nook would not be nearly as sweet if it were not for the adorable illustrated children’s books on display.

For as long as I can remember I have loved picture books. As a child I would study the illustrations of my favorites – Blueberries for Sal, The Bremen-town Musicians, Caps for Sale, Go, Dog. Go! – I can still remember pictures and hear my mom’s voice saying, “kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk!” and “Caps for Sale! Caps! Fifty cents a cap!“.

Picture books are pure magic.

My sophomore year of college my best friend and I shared an apartment. She brought a couch, coffee table, tv; I brought a small stack of favorite picture books. Now looking back, this seems like a strange thing for a 19 year old to travel with from Washington to Southern California, but I guess I felt they were important at the time. I don’t know if I ever opened the books that year, but they sat next to the couch and I saw them everyday. Fun fact: those same books from way back then are up on Audrey’s shelves today.

We have made it a tradition that for the kids’ birthdays and holidays, they get a new picture book. With four kids, lots of birthdays and holidays and a mom who can’t get enough, our collection is solid and continually growing.

Very soon, all four kids will have aged out of picture books, but you better believe I’ll still be enjoying the children’s section at the bookstore and walking out with a small stack.

We have so many favorite books. I thought it might be fun and helpful to have a big list of favorites, all of which are included in our little library.

So, in no particular order, here are 48 must-haves for your picture book collection:

The Jolly Postman

You’re All My Favorites

Guess How Much I Love You

King Hugo’s Huge Ego (get this one!)

Toot + Puddle 

Elephant and Piggie

Peek-A-Boo!

Sam and Dave Dig A Hole (get this one, too!)

Kiki + Coco In Paris (so adorable)

Lulu + Pip

Learning To Ski With Mr. Magee

Telephone

Baby Wren and The Great Gift

Triangle (we love everything by this author/illustrator combo)

Extra Yarn

I Want My Hat Back

We Found A Hat

The Day The Crayons Quit (clever, clever, clever)

The Day The Crayons Came Home

Paul Meets Bernadette

Angelina Ballerina

Penguin Problems

Gaston

The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, And The Big, Hungry Bear

I Had A Favorite Dress (best illustrations)

Birdie’s Big Girl Shoes

Birdie’s Big Girl Dress

Just Being Audrey

Alphabeasties

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

The Book With No Pictures

The Circus Ship (love this one)

Bear Snores On

Llama Llama Red Pajama

We’re Going On A Bear Hunt

Sleepy Bears

Bats At The Ballgame

How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?

Today I feel Silly

Blueberries For Sal

Imogene’s Antlers

Where The Wild Things Are

If You Give A Mouse A Cookie

The Napping House

Julius, The Baby Of The World

The Princess And The Pig

Henry’s Bright Idea

Press Here


Well, that was fun! I hope this list is a helpful resource for adding books to your collection!

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3 must-have picture books for school-aged boys (according to my 8 year old)

Our No.3 son is at that in-between age where he’s just growing out of picture books and in to chapter books. So when he came downstairs with a stack of books and asked us to read with him, we knew there will only be a few more chances for this.

He sat between me and Ryan and wanted to read us his three favorite picture books:

3 must-have picture books for school-aged boys (according to my 8 year old)

TELEPHONE by Mac Barnett with illustrations by Jen Corace

3 must-have picture books for school-aged boys (according to my 8 year old)

The combination of silly/witty writing and the most fabulous illustrations make this one a big favorite.

Description from Amazon: It’s time to fly home for dinner! In this witty picture book from award-winning and bestselling author Mac Barnett, a mother bird gives the bird next to her a message for little Peter. But passing messages on a telephone line isn’t as simple as it sounds. Each subsequent bird understands Mama’s message according to its own very particular hobbies. Will Peter ever get home for dinner? This uproarious interpretation of a favorite children’s game will get everyone giggling and is sure to lead to countless rereads.

3 must-have picture books for school-aged boys (according to my 8 year old)

SAM + DAVE DIG A HOLE by Mac Barnett with Illustrations by Jon Klassen

3 must-have picture books for school-aged boys (according to my 8 year old)

I didn’t realize until just now that these are by the same author! Apparently we like ourselves a Mac Barnett story.

This one is another subtly clever story with irony that is lost on the littler readers but totally humorous to our 8 year old. And, again, the pictures are so good.

Description from Amazon: Sam and Dave are on a mission. A mission to find something spectacular. So they dig a hole. And they keep digging. And they find . . . nothing. Yet the day turns out to be pretty spectacular after all. Attentive readers will be rewarded with a rare treasure in this witty story of looking for the extraordinary — and finding it in a manner you’d never expect.

3 must-have picture books for school-aged boys (according to my 8 year old)

THE BOOK WITH NO PICTURES by B.J. Novak

3 must-have picture books for school-aged boys (according to my 8 year old)

The kids’ aunt + uncle gave this one to the boys and the humor is right up their school-aged alley. There are no pictures, but it is a super creative book.

Description from Amazon: You might think a book with no pictures seems boring and serious. Except . . . here’s how books work. Everything written on the page has to be said by the person reading it aloud. Even if the words say . . .
BLORK. Or BLUURF.
Even if the words are a preposterous song about eating ants for breakfast, or just a list of astonishingly goofy sounds like BLAGGITY BLAGGITY and GLIBBITY GLOBBITY.
Cleverly irreverent and irresistibly silly, The Book with No Pictures is one that kids will beg to hear again and again. (And parents will be happy to oblige.)

3 must-have picture books for school-aged boys (according to my 8 year old)

This is obviously the best page of the book :)

So there you go, three must-have picture books for school-aged boys according to my 8 year old. All three books that are fun to look at and fun to read. And I hope he never grows out of sitting together on the couch reading.

Does your family have any favorites for boys?

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DIY watercolor wood blocks

wood-blocks

Need a super simple project to do with the kids? This watercolor wood block project is perfect.

It’s also great for an unexpected baby gift or fun party decorations for a birthday party or baby shower or thrown in a bowl for chic accessory on your coffee table. Multi-use diy’s that are inexpensive and simple to execute are my favorite.

Here’s how to make these watercolor wood blocks:

wood-blocks-supplies-and-steps diy-wood-blocks-instructions

When you’re done coloring, you will have so much fun playing with the blocks – arranging by color, stacking and sorting. This one might look like it’s for the kids, but believe me, these blocks are for grown ups too.

wood-blocks-in-bowl

They really do look pretty in a bowl (and make for an interactive coffee table accessory!).

Or of course, use them for actual play things.

diy-watercolor-wood-blocks

Keep in mind that if you are using these for babies, make sure you seal in the color with a spray sealant (or several layers of mod podge).

Just for fun, I created this color-mixing chart. It’s fun to try out different combinations of liquid watercolors to get as many pretty hues as you like.

watercolor-guide

SOURCES:

wood blocks small medium large / liquid watercolor / mod podge

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speaking your child’s language

We just returned from a weekend away at our favorite beach house on Whidbey Island. I’ve written about this magical place several times before, and posted a million IG photos (#theboathouse). Our good friends are gracious hosts and their hospitality provides the most cherished and memorable adventures for our kids. It is for sure their most favorite place to be.

whidbey-morning

I love the boat house for many reasons, but lingering at the top is watching the boys be boys. They have complete freedom. They can roam the endless beach collecting shells and digging for sea creatures. They cut down branches and make paths through the woods and whittle sticks with their pocket knives. They shoot bb guns and practice with their bows & arrows. They kayak or paddle boat and swim in the freezing cold water.  They build forts and bon fires and swing on a hammock. Continue Reading →

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our favorite children’s picture books

For as long as I can remember, I have adored children’s picture books. The sweet stories, likeable characters, clever plots and rhythmic cadence are all appealing, for sure. But my very favorite are the illustrations.

favorite-childrens-books

Our collection of picture books continually grows … I just can’t resist. And the kids enjoy us reading to them, so it’s a win-win. Over time, we’ve found that some books are worth reading over and over again. Their stories are great, the pictures are even better and reading them aloud is both fun to do and fun for the little ones to hear. Sometimes even the older two boys join in on story time.

So here are our (at-the-moment) favorite children’s picture books:

jolly-postman

Let’s begin with this long-time beloved book, The Jolly Postman by Janet & Allan Ahlberg. I loved it as a child, and all of my kids (ages 10,8,6,4) love it as well. The story follows a british postman as he rides his bicycle to different fairy tale characters delivering letters. The best is the envelope-shaped pages with actual letters inside to read. Such sweet fun.

i-had-a-favorite-dress

I Had A Favorite Dress by Boni Ashburn is Audrey’s pick most nights. I never protest because I just adore the pictures. It is the story of a girl who grows out of her favorite dress but her mother helps to ‘snip, snip, sew, sew’ it into a shirt, then tank top, then scarf, etc. It’s very cute.

birdie

The Birdie books by Sujean Rim are also Audrey’s most frequent choices and, again, the artwork is just beyond charming. Birdie is a sweet and independent little girl who makes style choices all on her own.

audrey-bunny

This one was a natural choice because of the name, but also because it was written by the first blogger I ever read, Angie Smith, and I kinda think she’s amazing. Audrey Bunny is the story of a bunny who worries that because she is not perfect, she will not be chosen. It tells a sweet story about how God has made us wonderfully and wants us to just be ourselves.

big-hungry-bear

The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear by Don & Audrey Wood is my third son’s absolute favorite. He can recite the whole thing and his voice inflections are the cutest.

bears-loose-tooth

Bear’s Loose Tooth by Karma Wilson is part of another series we all enjoy so much. The animal friends are darling and the rhythm of the words makes it feel sing-songy to read. If you’re just starting out with these books, begin with Bear Snores On or Bear’s New Friend or actually the whole set.

circus-ship

The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen is one of my favorites. Again, the words are poetic, yet clever and the pictures are detailed, bright and silly. When the circus ship sinks, the animals swim to a New England shore and find a home with the townspeople, who cleverly camouflage the animals when the grumpy circus trainer comes searching for them. Love this one.

king-hugo

Also written and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen (which I didn’t realize until taking these pictures!), King Hugo’s Huge Ego is super clever and the artwork is wonderful. A pompous king learns a lesson about humility and kindness in this happy story.

princess-and-pig

The Princess and the Pig by Jonathan Emmett feels similar to King Hugo in it’s smart storyline and cheerful illustrations, but this time a pig and princess get mixed up and what happens is pretty cute.  A fun read especially for the grown-ups.

going-on-a-bear-hunt

This oldie-but-goodie remains high on my list because it is just so simple and fun to read. We pat our legs and make swishing noises with our hands as the family goes on an adventure through tall grass, sticky mud, a swirling, whirling snowstorm, to find a bear. We’re Going on A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen is delightfully illustrated by Helen Oxenbury.

mr-tiger-goes-wild

The newest addition to our book collection is Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown.  I’ll be honest … I haven’t read it yet. I saw it at the kids’ book fair and the cover caught my attention because, just look at that cover! It is the story of a prim and proper Mr. Tiger who decides that maybe going wild would be more fun. Can’t wait to read this one with the kids.

So there you go. All of our current favorites. Do you have a cherished picture book in your family? Please share!

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