Wednesday, November 27, 2013

November Book Picks for Kids

When I was knee-high to a grasshopper (no "Was knee-high?" jokes, please), the library was a completely magical place for me, and not just because of the books. As our small town's former one-room schoolhouse, Creswell's library was living history. Farmer Quinn's wife used to teach there before she married, and sometimes she would tell stories about it.

As either a school or library, I loved the place. The old woodstove, long accustomed to defrosting farm kids, still stood watch up front. The wood floor, built with what I'm sure was local timber, creaked no matter where you stepped, and oh, the smell. The combination of woodsmoke, weathered hardbacks and this intangible something combined to make the most weirdly-wonderful aroma. To this day, I sometimes covertly sniff old books at garage sales just for the nostalgia.

This last month has found the Kupper Klan with a painful abundance of nothing to do. The library is just a short walk away from our hotel and through the wet, gloomy skies and sidewalks (note to self: TOMS shoes might be socially conscious and fashionable, but they are not good wet-walking wear). So to the library we go!

And here are our top finds for the month of November, keeping in mind my kids are 6, almost-3 and 7 months:

"How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow?" by Wendall Minor
The boys loved this silly book about all pumpkins could accomplish if only they grew bigger. As the pages pass, the silliness escalates. By the time that roller coasters are careening down the track into a giant jack o' lantern's mouth, Jack and Jude are laughing hysterically.

"Otis" by Loren Long
This sweet story about a tractor and his calf who outgrow their usefulness made me miss my dad's John Deere. "And this is why we can never get rid of Tucker or Austen," Jack said matter-of-factly. As much as I love our much-used Corolla and Odyssey, we'll have to see about that.

"Plumply, Dumply Pumpkin" by Mary Serfozo
This toddler book about the search for the perfect pumpkin was far and away Jude's favorite. We must have read it a dozen times.

"The Dream Shop" by Katharine Kenah

Lately, Jack has been enjoying books with more-complex story lines (and somewhat sadly for this end-of-the-day, might-collapse-in-the-middle-of-the-page mama, more words) and concepts. Fantasy and imagination, in other words, are right up his alley. He really enjoyed this slightly-weird tale about shopping for dreams. There was a fire-breathing lizard, you see. End of explanation.

"Chief Rhino to the Rescue" by Sam Lloyd
Have you discovered Whoops-A-Daisy World yet? If not, you should. It's like Richard Scarry's Busytown reinvented.

"Mr. Tiger Goes Wild" by Peter Brown
Even the jungle creatures in the UK are prim and proper, apparently. But nature always wins in the end -- and so will you, when you hear your psedo-cherubs' giggles.

"Llama Llama Misses Mama" by Anna Dewdney
Okay, I have to be honest: I'm the one who grabbed this off the shelf and threw it in the book bag. Let's just say Llama Llama and I have a little maternal longings in common at the moment. At any rate, any Llama Llama book is a big hit with the boys, and this one was no different.

"Sugar Snow" by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I'm all for new books (after all, how else am I going to get published someday?), but I also want my children to know the thrill of the classics. I've got a whole arsenal of literati lined up for Jack as he ages -- Narnia, Hardy Boys, Little Women (he's going to need to impress some girl on a date someday, and I figure this is a great way, right?), Little House on the Prairie, Caddie Woodlawn, etc. So it's nice to read a smaller version of the real thing to get him hooked in the meantime.

Hence my excitement over these adaptations of LIW's classics. When I told Jack that I read this book as a young girl, he was dubious. Like, you mean, they had printing presses back then, Mommy?

Now it's YOUR turn! What good books (kids or otherwise) have you read lately? Share in the comments!