I can’t help but jump on the Best Books bandwagon (every time I use a cliche I can feel my former MFA writing teacher cringing, but sometimes I just can’t help myself!) and this list is for my favorite picture books of the year. I started the tradition of reading to my boys when they were little because that’s what my mom did with me. I have such great memories of lying in bed curled up against my mom as she read stories like the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe or Little House on the Prairie; books that opened my eyes to an expansive world. How could I not want to continue that tradition with my boys? Plus, according to recent (and obvious) research, having a house filled with books makes your kids smarter 😉
That said, at the end of every hectic day, there is nothing that calms me and gives me more pleasure than reading a good book with my children. My older boys read on their own now (and they love to read I’m proud to say!) but I still get to read with my six year old, named Reid because I tell him, your mom loves to read! So here is my list of favorites from 2015:
Lenny and Lucy by Phillip and Erin Stead
When this married couple writes a book I don’t even look at it before I buy it because I know it will be great (see A Sick Day for Amos McGee). My boys and I like to play the game of ‘what superpower would you choose’ and if I could choose a superpower it would be to be a supergirl-fly-on-the-wall. That way I could travel unseen to places like the Stead’s house. I imagine that they work in some sort of fabulous creative space with a big table that is covered in colored pencils and pieces of paper that are filled with charming characters. I know that their space must be warm and energetic and brilliantly creative. Reading their wonderful children’s books makes me feel like I am spending time with a great friend.
Gorillas in our Midst by Richard Fairgray and Terry Jones
Reid and I have a thing for gorilla books (If I had a Gorilla by Mercer Mayer, Little Beauty and Gorilla by Anthony Browne, and Little Gorilla by Ruth Bernstein) and the illustrations and subtle humor in Gorillas in our Midst makes me pull it from our crowded bookshelf time and again!
Beyond the Pond by Joseph Kuefler
In Beyond the Pond a young boy is bored and dives into a neighboring pond, deeper and deeper, to emerge at last in a magical, parallel world. When he returns home, after his big adventure, he finds it wasn’t quite as he left it. This beautifully illustrated book carries out the simple theme of finding escape in your own back yard. Who doesn’t love to think there are mysteries within reach?
It’s Only Stanley by Jon Agee
Jon Agee is one of the best children’s authors in my opinion. His humor is so understated and he comes up with such fantastical ideas like for example, his latest book, It’s Only Stanley, in which a family is awakened throughout the night by their dog who is busy fixing the tv, the bathtub drain, and building a rocket ship. Agee says the book is about grown-ups who are not clued into what’s going on, and that the story sat on his shelf for several years because of the rhyming style which is wonderful to read aloud, but challenging to create.
Tonight, after an argument with my 11 year old over his Latin homework, writing this blog post has calmed me. I’d like to thank these authors for their continued brilliance and creativity that brings my family great joy on a nightly basis!