reviews and stories about parenting with picture books

A Good Day of Good Books


The nights when I sink into sleep thinking, “Ah, this was a good day,” are usually nights that cap days filled with good books.

This morning my almost three-year-old daughter woke up early and a bit crabby. She became very crabby when she learned that we were out of, “a (huff) real breakfast (huff) with (begin speed whining) waffles-and-syrup-and-a-dipping area.”

Eventually we made it past the meltdown and to the table with bowls of Cheerios and a stack of books. It was pouring rain outside the window.

They ate. I read, beginning with How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? By Jane Yolen and Mark Teague (The Blue Sky Press, 2000). My son pointed at the men in the pictures and said, “Dada! Dada!” My daughter practiced her dinosaur pronunciation, repeating after me as I read the names that are cleverly incorporated into each illustration. “Hey Mommy!” she added, “That’s the dinosaur we made!” referring to last week’s Play-Doh/toothpick Stegosaurus sculpture.

Starry Safari by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Jeff Mack (Scholastic, 2005) and The View at the Zoo, by Kathleen Long Bostrom, illustrated by Guy Francis (Scholastic, 2010) came next.

Both nursery school fundraiser books through Scholastic. Both about animals. Both with twists—our Starry Safari protagonist turns out not to be in Africa, but rather in bed, and the view at the zoo refers to what the animals see, not us.

And then of course our favorite of the favorites: Railroad Hank by Lisa Moser, illustrated by Benji Davies.

Now my son chimes in with the refrain “choo choo choo,” every time, and my daughter asks things like, “Why is Granny Bett so sad?”

My daughter slurped the milk out of her bowl as I wrapped up with Baby Danced the Polka, by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by Jennifer Plecas.

Another best of the best.

My son yelled out, “Polka!” when he saw the cover. My daughter recited most of the words before I even got a chance to read them. When we lifted the flap to see which animal baby was dancing with my daughter yelled the name of the animal it really was (cow, pig, sheep, goat,) and my son yelled one animal every time, “cow!”

My son giggled when I opened my eyes and my mouth and threw myself back in the chair to deliver: “Whoa! Papa’s whiskers! Whoa! Mama’s wig!” and they both beamed when I wagged a finger and fake-scolded first my daughter, “Did you hear what Mama told you?” and then my son, “Did you hear what Papa said?”

My son is now obsessed with Jamberry, by Bruce Degen, and picks and eats blueberries off the page just like my daughter did/does so we read that this morning, too.

Over lunch we had a lesson, of sorts, I suppose. Colors (Baby Bear Sees Blue, by Ashley Wolff) another best in our house, and numbers, with Counting in the Garden by Kim Parker (Orchard Books, 2005). I pointed to the animals hidden in the garden while my daughter counted each perfectly and my son yelled out “One! Two! Five! Five! Five!”

Before nap in one room: Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and in another, Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes, twice.

The rain stopped while they slept, and so we spent most of the afternoon outside, except for one “quick” trip to the grocery store. I was commanded to place both kids in one of those super carts with a big plastic double seat attached in front of the regular child’s seat, but as often happens I was smart to listen to my three-year-old.

She and my son rode next to each other through the aisles reciting Baby Danced the Polka and yelling out, “sheep! cow! pig! goat!” just as loudly as they had at breakfast, and I certainly wasn’t gong to be the one to shush them.

2 Responses to “A Good Day of Good Books”

  1. readingwithrhythm

    What a fabulous day you had!! Some of those books are new to me and I think that I need to check them out! Railroad Hank, because we used to have a Hank dog that lived with us, and Baby Dance the Polka, because we like to polka around here! Thanks for sharing you day!

    • abbynies

      Thanks! Both of the books you mentioned are at the absolute TOP of our list! You will love them!


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