Note: The books listed on this page were my grandsons’ favorites when they were 6 and 4. Most should be available at your local library.
If you have favorites you would like to add to our list, we would love to know! Please comment at the bottom of the page, and you can also scroll to bottom for Amazon Store links.
Like most kids, my grandsons Jun and Gabriel, ages 6 and 4, love to have books read to them —- but not all books garner both their attention equally.
There are so many wonderful children’s books, and I have found that the challenge is to find books that both will enjoy. When the words and pictures are engaging enough for 4-year old Gabriel, lets Jun read along with us and is also fun for Lola Jane to read, it usually becomes one of our favorites.
Two Books on Animal Sounds
When my daughter was about 4, she asked me what sounds frogs made, and having grown up in the Philippines, I replied “Ko-Kak, Ko-Kak”. She then went to her Dad asking the same question, and of course, being an American, he said “Ribbit-Ribbit”.
What to do when you are a four year old multi-cultural little girl? Why, combine the two sounds of course, and she happily hopped around the house saying “Ko-Kak, Ribbit, Ko-Kak, Ribbit, Ko-Kak, Ribbit”…
I wonder if animal sounds are really all that different among nations and languages…or is it just the way specific languages can interpret and repeat these sounds.
We have read some fun books on animal sounds (including the varieties of frog sounds).
It is by Linda Sue Park with illustrations by Diane Bigda. (Charlesbridge, 2004).
The second is Everywhere the Cow says Moo!, by Ellen Slusky Weinstein and illustrated by Kenneth Andersson.
(Boyds Mills Press, 2008)
Mung Mung has many animal sounds from English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Filipino, Italian, Russian, Polish, Hindi, German and Swedish, Arabic and French.
Everywhere the Cow says Moo! is focused only on English, Spanish, French and Japanese.
Both books are about the same number of pages and have great pictures and fun placement of text.
The beautiful water colors capture touching expressions from the dog and the frog.
The story ventures into territory not often explored in children’s books — the life cycle, and yes…even the loss of a friend.
The book is about a city dog who goes to the country and finds a frog for a friend. The story spans all seasons, from Spring to Winter, then Spring again.
It is a story that was understood by the little guys, and still had a happy ending.
The picture of frog holding a leaf over dog during a Summer rain was so precious, as well as in the Fall, of frog telling city dog about “remember-ing games”
This book does have a sad part, but its message of fun and friendship overall is heartwarming. Families with pets are confronted with the cycle of life at some point, especially when a family pet dies. This book presents a valuable lesson in that sometimes friendships may end, but you will also find new beginnings —- and new friends.
Some of the page pictures were so beautiful I wanted to frame them!
Words by Mo Willems and pictures by Jon J Muth. (Hyperion Books for Children-2010)
Sitting in My Box
Most kids love to play with boxes. Recently, my grandsons played for hours with two giant boxes that came from a delivery. Lucky, they were the same exact size! They put pillows and blankets inside, and in the living room watched an entire movie while inside their boxes.
I have heard parents talk about holidays where new gifts or pricey toys were ignored in favor of playing with the huge box that the gift came in — so it is easy to see why the boys enjoyed this book. Sitting in my Box is by Dee Lillegard, with pictures by Jon Agee (Originally published in 1989 and recently republished by Marshall Cavendish Classics).
The text is fun to read to children, and great for beginning readers.
The story begins with a little boy reading a book inside a box. Each page follows with animals wanting to be let in the box, starting with a giraffe, then an elephant, baboon….etc. until there is no room to sit.
That is until a flea knocks and bites the animals, causing them all to leave, and ends with the little boy by himself again with his book.
Little Pea By Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Illustrated by Jen Corace and published by Chronicle Books.
It is about a Little Pea (as in the vegetable) and his family — the Papa Pea & Mama Pea.
The Little Pea liked many things except for CANDY. And that is what Little Peas had to eat …candy. Candy on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and so on.
We enjoyed the clean and simple illustrations, and especially the various candies Little Pea had to eat before he could have his dessert — which was his favorite, SPINACH.
The pages that shows Little Pea reluctantly eating his candy, one by one, and the accompanying word sounds, Yuck… Blech… Plck, Pleh… made the boys laugh. They liked repeating the funny sounds Little Pea made.
The boys do love eating spinach too, so that was a plus…and a little book about a Little Pea that makes all of us laugh, is a plus too!
Here is the link to author Amy’s (very cool) website.
Llama Llama Red Pajama By Anna Dewdney
The story is about Llama Llama’s bedtime routine and feeling alone after his Mama kisses him goodnight. The boys — and I think most children — related right away to Llama Llama’s anxiety, impatience, fear and his “Llama-Dramas”.
When we get to the part of the story where Llama Llama, feeling afraid, puts his bed cover over his face, the boys ask to pause… so they too could put their own bed covers over their faces. Only then are they are ready to continue on, when Llama Llama yells for Mama Llama to RUN RUN RUN!
The worried Mama rushes up to check on Llama Llama, only to find that Llama Llama is OK and was just impatient. Hands on her waist, these lines from Mama Llama follows:
Baby Llama, what a tizzy! Sometimes Mama’s very busy.
Please stop all this llama drama and be patient for your Mama.
Anna Dewdney has since written 3 more Llama Llama books.
I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More!
By Karen Beaumont and Illustrated by David Catrow. Published in 2005 by Harcourt.
Six year old Jun was already familiar with this book– from his teacher’s classroom.
And it is how I came across the book, during my last day of volunteer time. My task that day was to watch over a group of kids while they watercolor painted–on paper– a drawing of their arm.
They must have recently read the book…
This book is about a little boy who gets into big trouble when caught painting on places he is not supposed to, like the floor, the ceiling, the walls etc.
His Mom yells “Ya Ain’t a-Gonna Paint No More!” and puts away his paints and brushes, far away —at least she thought—inside the closet’s top shelf.
With his dog’s help and a makeshift stair/ladder, the boy gets his paints and brushes back, and proceeds to paint his body, one body part at a time. He paints his dog too.
The rhyming words were great to guess what body part the boy will next paint. The illustration is fun — black and white until the boy paints— and then so vibrant that it seems the paint may still be wet.
Jun remembered the picture with the painted hand, and before we turned the page warned me it was “scary”. We turned the page to a picture of a face (on the hand) with ants crawling into the mouth. He said, “See Lola…I told you!”
He then he declared prior to the painted leg picture page that it was going to be BEAUTIFUL…and it was.
Four year old Gabriel enjoyed it too, though he was more quite than usual. Maybe he was tired, or remembered that he was recently in trouble for taking a green Sharpie pen and writing on the stair and hallway walls. Oh oh…
Look! A Book! By Bob Staake
My grandsons — especially 6-year-old Jun — are currently into “I Spy” types of books. The boys really liked this book…and with a subtitle “A Zany Seek-and-Find Adventure”, I could see why.
Right from the start, the boys were intrigued by the page style. It starts out with 3 rhyming word lines and 3 punched holes on the page– that peeks into the next page.
They liked putting their fingers through the holes, then flipping the pages back and forth before settling in to search for the item they were supposed to find.
The pictures were terrific and there were many details — as you would expect — to make the find challenging. This is the first book we have read by the writer / illustrator Bob Staake, who won a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book award in 2006.
The structure of the book kept 4-year-old Gabriel engaged to the very end…and both boys were disappointed that the book ended.
So it’s a good thing the author included another “finding” exercise at the end! Which we did not have time for –but was a nice enticement to continue looking again the next day.
I remember when my daughter was a little girl, the “Where’s Waldo” book series were very popular and she had a few of those books—though I don’t remember the Waldo books having the fun rhyming words.
Great rhyming words are always a good feature for beginning readers — so in that sense, (plus the interesting punch through holes) this is a definite improvement from the Where’s Waldo series.
Artichoke Boy by Scott Mickelson
We live in an area perfect for growing artichokes…so pretty much, if we drive to go anywhere, especially on the way to Tae Kwon Do practice, we see fields with rows upon rows of artichokes.
And so with the boys already familiar with artichokes, it was fun for them to read a book about an artichoke boy and his artichoke-loving family.
But of course, being 4 and 6-year-old boys, the favorite artichoke boy picture page was the when artichoke boy was at the beach — and showed a little of his artichoke derriere.
Seems boys this age laugh out loudly at anything having to do with derrieres, or as they call it, but-buts.
The book is the first written and illustrated by artist Scott Mickelson. Published by Boyds Mills Press.
Scott is a member of the San Francisco based alternative rock/folk band, Fat Opie, www.FatOpie.com.
Here are two great books helpful to youngsters who are learning their colors, and will be added to our Favorites Pages. Four-year old Gabriel really enjoyed the construction of these color books.
The Mixed-Up Chameleon – By Eric Carle
Eric Carle has written so many books that most households with children probably has at least one (even outside the U.S., as his most popular book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, has been translated into 50 languages).
The Mixed-Up Chameleon is among our favorite Eric Carle book.
The book is about a chameleon who sees a zoo —- and instead of just blending into different colors like a regular chameleon — he actually turns into the color and parts of the various animals he sees.
This results into strange-looking combinations, making the chameleon look even stranger with each new animals and color he encounters.
Constructed with cutaways, each new page reveals a color tab on the right side, and matching color/animal on the left side. By the end of the book, a rainbow is revealed, with the chameleon returning to his true shape . One of the best color-learning books to learn colors that we have come across.
Lemons are not Red – by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
This book is constructed with clever cutouts that work in bright colors and objects as you turn the page.
My grandchildren particularly enjoy these types of books, and they looked forward to turning the pages to show the correct object color. There is minimal text so the focus is on learning colors.
Lemons Are Not Red starts out with yellow pages with a cutout of a red lemon. When you turn the page, the lemon cutout reveals the previous (yellow) page and is then the correct color.
The pattern repeats with other objects like eggplant, carrots, flamingos, etc.