Reflect and Refine and Mandy at Enjoy and Embrace Learning began the event in 2010 with a question: "If you were stranded on an island and had to teach, what 10 picture books would you hope to have in your bag?"
Last year, I took on the incredible task of narrowing down an enormous list to only 10. If you read last year's post, you'll see that I gave some background on myself and my experiences with picture books. I decided to take a different approach to it this year. As a mom of 3 boys, I have accumulated a lot of books in the 12 years since my oldest was born. With a grandfather and aunt who both believed that one of our greatest gifts is the ability to read, the boys were recipients of books on every birthday, Christmas, and Easter. Their aunt would often give them a book from the $1 bins at the grocery store on the random Tuesday. So, I decided that I would make my list this year answer the question, "If you were trapped in a bedtime routine with your child, what books would you be begged to read?"
1. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
I received this book as a shower gift when I was expecting my oldest son. All the members of my staff signed it. So, not only does this particular copy of the book have sentimental value for me, it was also a book that helped to settle my little one into night-night time as he said goodnight along with the story.
And if you are already a fan of Goodnight Moon, you should check out the recently released parody, Goodnight iPad by Ann Droyd <g>. Even my 5-year-old, who is already connected with technology appreciates the parallels between the books.
2. The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown
I love the message of this book, from the mother bunny to the baby bunny. "No matter where you go, no matter what you do, I will always find you and you will always be my 'little bunny'." After reading this book, I could snuggle up with my own little bunny, and he knew that I will always be there for him.
3. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch
I'll admit it right here and now...I cannot read this book without crying. I've tried. Through 12 years and 3 children, I am completely unable to make it through without choking up. I even tried to read it to my class once when we were sharing Robert Munsch books. I couldn't do it. When I get to the part where the little boy all grown up pauses at the top of the stairs before seeing his own baby daughter, no matter how well I've kept it together until then, that's the point where I lose it. If you've never shared this with your own children before, remember that you have been warned.
4. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
With each of my children, they loved the logical conclusion to some of the "cliffhangers" in the story. They enjoyed when I would let them fill in the missing text. When my middle son was learning to read, we used to play a game where he would point to the words as I read them, then I would read a word incorrectly. He would laugh hilariously and say, "No Mommy! That's not right!" and then read to me what the word really said. This soon extended beyond this book and took over most of his library.
5. Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman
This was a relatively recent acquisition in our house. My youngest son loves reading this book. I think it's a mix of the absurdity of dogs driving cars, riding on rollercoasters, and having a party at the top of a tree that is the fascination for him. I like that it helps teach colors, directions, is repetitive, and introduces him to simple
6. Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel
This unique take on the ABC book had my children in stitches with every read. I think they loved the naughtiness of the Kitty more than anything. I, on the other hand, thought the absurdity of the "food" that was served was the best part. Who wouldn't laugh at "Hippo Hamburgers", "Buffalo Burritos", and "Insect Ice Cream"?
7. Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
There's just something about boys that draws them to stories of mischief. But more than that, I think they could see themselves in Max's place, becoming the King of the Wild Things and being able to take some control over their own situation. In the end, they knew that they would always be welcomed home where they would be loved, no matter what.
8. Good Dog, Carl by Alexandra Day
The big draw of this book was that the reader could tell the story, and that it could be different every time. Of course, there's that element of mischief once again and the absurd idea that a dog would be left in charge of a baby. The combination of all of these is what made it so enjoyable over and over again.
9. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat!
by Lucille Colandro
There are numerous books in the "There was an old lady who swallowed...." series, and my kids loved every one. They love the repetitious text, the ridiculousness of the things she swallowed (and the fact that she could swallow them at all!) This was another book that I used when they were early readers. They could "read" along with the repeated and predictable text and fill in the rhyming words. They never got tired of this one.
10. Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
I'm not really sure what it is about this book that made it such a favorite with my boys. Of course, they loved books with animals as the main characters. There are elements of friendship between the various animals joining the sleeping bear in his cave. So, I asked my 5-year-old why he likes me to read this book. His response, "I like the way you read it, Mommy. You do funny voices." There you have it. Sometimes a little theater is called for.
I realize that these books aren't great literature. They don't have some grand message or teaching point. It doesn't even matter why my children and I like to read them together. The years of snuggling together to read before bed don't last long, so I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts.