May 14, 2016

10 Children's Books That Don't Drive Me Crazy


(Preliminary ramblings: if you've been around Guilty Chocoholic Mama for awhile: 1)thank you! and 2)you may be thinking this post looks familiar. It's kind of a long story (short version: don't try to blog at 4 a.m.), but I was working on updating and expanding this list for another site and inadvertently got rid of the original post, at least as far as Blogger is concerned. So this IS the original post, with five books added on. I remain grateful as always to my friend Lisa the Syncopated Mama for providing the inspiration for this round-up with her 5 After 5 party on favorite children's books.) 

Maybe it's just me (it would hardly be the first time), but have you ever read a children's book and thought, "HOW did this get published? I write better stuff on my grocery list!"

I don't doubt for a second that writing a children's book is much, much harder than it looks. And the brilliant best-seller that I, personally, have authored is...? Oh, right, I don't have one. But I do find some literary options for the younger set to be a little challenging where my sanity and patience are concerned. (Admittedly, both of those are in short supply on a good day, but still...)

On the other hand, there are some truly inspired options out there...the kinds of books you, as the parent, hope your kids will choose when story time rolls around.


1. Falling for Rapunzel (Leah Wilcox). Thank goodness I worked that elementary-school book fair back in the day, because that's where I discovered this hilarious, charming book. Poor Rapunzel is a little too far away from her would-be rescuer/prince to hear him properly, which is how she comes to throw all manner of things--pancake batter, underwear, a pig--out the tower window instead of her actual famed long tresses. In the category, "Why Couldn't I Come Up With Something This Clever?" 



2. Please Is a Good Word to Say (Barbara Joosse). Mover over, Emily Post: this is the most fabulous manners lesson ever. After we stumbled on it at our library I promptly bought a copy for our personal library, plus extras to give as gifts. I read it to my daughter's class during March is Reading Month one year, and the teacher immediately got it for her classroom. My teenager read it to her work-study preschool class last week, and the lead teacher said she had to have it, too. Get your hands on a copy any way you can, because this is the most fun you can possibly have with please and thank-you, among other niceties. 



3. Today I Feel Silly (Jamie Lee Curtis). I love this book's message: that "happy" is not the only legitimate feeling. I try to teach my girls a lesson I'm constantly learning myself--that we cannot always act how we feel. And there is no doubt some moods are caused by things that cannot be ignored or left alone. But I also love the grace and freedom of this line from the book, in particular: "I'd rather feel silly, excited or glad, than cranky or grumpy, discouraged or sad. But moods are just something that happen each day. Whatever I'm feeling inside is okay."




4. Miss Fannie's Hat (Jan Karon). Miss Fannie loves her hats. Particularly one very special chapeau. What to do, then, when the the pastor of her church asks Miss Fannie to donate a hat to the fundraising auction? My love for this book is entirely linked to my love for my mom...our family's very own hat lady. When I discovered this book early one spring, I knew exactly what my mom's Mother's Day gift would be that year.



5. The Giving Tree (Shel Silverstein). Genius. Brilliant. A classic for the ages, for all ages.





6. Pasture Bedtime (A Cautionary Tale) (Jenny H. Lyman). The minute I read this adorably punny story about a little horse who does not--DOES NOT, thank you very much--want to go to bed, it became my new favorite children's book. That you can get matching pajamas from parent company Lazy One just sweetens the deal.

7. Sheep in a Jeep (Nancy Shaw). When my niece and nephew get to my parents' house for a sleepover with Grammie and Grampy, this is the book they both want.


8. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Judith Viorst). Another classic, and for good reason: hasn't everyone had a day like this? The fact that there's a book about it encourages kids (and their moms) that they're not alone when they're having one.


9. Anything by Sandra Boynton. Her stories are whimsical, her illustrations are charming, and her board books are durable enough to withstand hours of chewing by your resident teether. And, really, how can you go wrong with an author whose greeting on her website is as follows: "Here at last responding to a nearly deafening universal plea...well not exactly a nearly deafening universal plea it was more like some polite whining from 3 or 4 people who probably should be spending a lot more time outdoors...is the Official Boynton Website. You are visitor number Bizzillion and then some."


10. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey. Yes, it's technically a Christmas book. But it's a gift in any season.


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Bonus book that you can't buy very easily but might be able to find at your library or dig up in a garage sale: My Icky Picky Sister (Beth Hazel and Dr. Jerome C. Harste). "She rolled her eyes, she crossed her arms, she said she didn't like it." Not that we have any real-life association with this book in my double-daughtered house. 

Alright, let's have it: what children's books make your cut? Please share it in a comment here or over on Facebook. Plus, if you've got older kids, check out this list of literary classics, "re-imagined" for the tween/teen crowd. One of my personal favorites? "Oh The Places You Won't Go In That Outfit."

**This post may have been shared at some of these blog bashes.**

56 comments:

  1. I think I'm ashamed that I haven't heard of any of these titles except for The Giving Tree!! As for the "re-imagined" classics??? That is magic! Love that list - would definitely be required reading for my two girls!!

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    1. Oh, no, Tracey...no shame at all! With the exception of "The Giving Tree," I'd call all of these lesser-known treasures. We were just blessed to stumble upon them, so I want other people to know about them! And I am SO with you on the "re-imagined classics" list. Love. It. ;) Thanks so much for being such a faithful encourager to me!

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  2. Ooooh, I've only heard of one of these from your list, too! Off to see if the library has the others so that I can put them on hold and give G some extra grumbles this morning (because right now, he is literally sitting on the couch in front of me, "managing" our library lists - Saturday is the day we do our library-book tango - and stating, "you have put WAY too many books on hold for Gv, because now I can't renew other things that she has checked out and it is completely throwing a wrench in our system!" ) Whoops, well, what's a few more...

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    1. I am SO excited that most of these are new to you because I know you are huge readers at your house, so it thrills me to have the joy of possibly introducing you to new favorites. Also, knowing your sense of humor (which is fabulous and, frankly, "right"), I really think you'll LOVE these. Let me know how the library tango turns out. And thank you for inspiring this list with 5 After 5! :)

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    2. So I got all of them we hadn't read and they were all great, but the BEST was the Rapunzel - it cracked me up and never got old, which was good, because Gv wanted to read it All. The. Time. We were rechecking it out of the library like crazy and finally escaped its clutches when we had to take everything back for our big campout. It's definitely one I've added to my "to own" list. So happy you shared these and that I was able to check them all out!

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    3. Oh, Lisa, we really ARE kindred spirits! I felt the same way about "Rapunzel"! And I'd say your Gv has good taste if she wanted it again and again. Thank you again so much for inspiring this post...I'm headed to your blog right now to see what the next 5 After 5 is about! :)

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  3. Great list, Elizabeth! I think my favorite on you list is the hat book, just because of you mom...but the say please manners book is running a close second!

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    1. Thanks, Tiffiney! You are right: the mom connection is a pretty strong recommendation, isn't it? ;) Maybe someday our children will say that about us?! But, yes, "Please" is beyond fabulous. You would love it. Because it is funny in the best way...like you. :) Thank you so much for stopping by! xoxo

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  4. LOVE this list! I couldn't agree more! My husband and I joke all.the.time that we could write a children's book in 4.2 seconds and live off the royalties for life (even though, like you said, I'm sure it's harder than it looks)! I always check books out from the library first so I can decide whether or not they're worth buying! :)

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    1. Oh my goodness, Laura, that is SO funny. If you and your husband write a book (even if it does take longer than 4.2 seconds), please let me know the title so I can buy it and make my contribution to your royalties! ;) And I do the same with books from the library: trial runs, you might say! Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  5. Fun picks. I am only familiar with one of the books, but I think my daughter would enjoy the others!

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    1. Yes, Emily, I really think she would! I know a list of unfamiliar titles always looks a little suspicious, because it's like "if these were really any good, I would have already heard about them"! ;) But I promise: they're worth checking out. Happy reading...and thanks so much for stopping by!

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  6. Great books...some I know and some are new to me. I shall be checking into them. I tutor children of young ages and am always looking for just the right books to draw them into loving reading!! Thanks.
    @ Being Woven
    @ The Reader and the Book

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    1. It's my pleasure...and I love the idea that one or two of these might delight some of your tutorees as they've delighted my girls (and myself). Thank you so much for stopping by...I'm headed to find you right now! :)

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  7. What fun to find four books that I've never heard of! Thanks for sharing your list!

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    1. Well, you're so welcome, Michele. I find these books funny, delightful, and worth reading again and again. I'm glad to give them a little love since it seems they've been hiding in the shadows of children's literature! ;) Thanks so much for stopping by today!

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  8. What a great list and Shel Silverstein is still one of my favorites even after all these years. And will also have to check out a few of the others on your list for my kids now, too!! :)

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    1. Thank you, Janine...and thank you, too, for all your encouragement today! To say nothing of the fact that your fabulous summer reading list sets me up for the season ahead a little better than this particular list of mine does! ;) Lovely to "meet" you!

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  9. I'm going to have to find these books! I love reading the Llama Llama series to my kids :)

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    1. Well, Hannah, apparently I'm going to have to check out Llama Llama! How have I never heard of it? Probably because I was so enamored with all these books, but still...thank you for enlightening me! :)

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  10. Such a great list! I must add one: Room on The Broom. I read all year long. My favorite!

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    1. Thank you, Amanda! I'll have to check out your suggestion! :) Thanks so much for taking time to stop by and to add to my list!

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  11. These are perfect picks, Elizabeth! I've heard of that "Please..." book everywhere, and now that you've included it on here, I'm taking it a sign that I should buy it for my little girl when she gets older too! The Giving Tree is a favorite around here and it makes me teary-eyed every time I read it. Thanks so much for sharing such a thoughtful post with us on #shinebloghop!

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    1. Aw, thank you, Maria. Indeed, "Please..." is simply hilarious and delightful and so creative. It's also FABULOUS for reading out loud. In fact, it's too bad my "little girl" is currently immersed in advanced math homework, or I'd read it to her right now. Sigh...;)

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  12. Love to discover children's books that I have yet to see or read to my kids. I'm visiting today from the #shinebloghop. I will be pinning your post to my Kidlit board.

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    1. Bonnie, I LOVE that board name..."Kidlit"! Too cute. Thank you so much for the pin and for taking time to stop by and comment. Happy reading! :)

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  13. Most of our children's books don't bother me...but my 3 year old rarely lets me read to her and a lot of her books were mine. :D

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    1. Do you mean they were yours when you were a child, Alicia? If so, that is just precious! Second-generation literary love...fabulous. Thank you so much for stopping by!

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  14. The Giving Tree - what is there not to love!! There are times in my class I've begun to read a book and I have to stop because it is that bad. I can't even find myself getting through it let alone expect my five year olds to endure.

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    1. Okay, YES to all, Michelle. Amen on "The Giving Tree." Nothing not to love indeed. But also amen to the rest of your comment...and thank you for leaving it so I know it's not just. As I said, I'm sure it's harder than it looks to write a great children's book, but must so many of them be (pardon my brutality here) utter drivel? ;) I will say that I don't believe any five-year-olds would have to merely endure the books on my list. Of course, I'm partial, but still...;)

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  15. This is a great list, Elizabeth. The Giving Tree was/is a favorite of ours when my son was younger. He even enjoyed my childhood books The Terrible Terrier and Timothy Turtle. Thanks for linking up with Thankful Thursdays!

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    1. Thank you so much, Lori! Your childhood favorites-turned-your son's favorites sound delightful. Of course, I'm a sucker for alliteration...;) Bless you and Thankful Thursdays!

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  16. Thank you for the list and the reviews. I am on round 2 now with granddaughters (3 and 1) so I will be looking for book reading material. I will track these down.

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    1. Round 2...how wonderful! I really think your grandgirls would LOVE these books--which have been field-tested on and approved by my own daughters! ;) Thank you so much for stopping by!

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  17. I LOVE Falling for Rapunzel, and I don't know many people who are familiar with it, so I'm glad to see it on your list! It makes me laugh EVERY time I read it. I'm excited to try some of the others on your list.

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    1. Oh what fun, Meg, to meet a fellow "Falling" lover! And you're right: it's a little-known treasure. Have you also read "Waking Beauty"? Same author, similar idea, almost as delightful. And if you like "Falling," I do think you'll like the other ideas on the list. More LOLing! :) Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  18. We have been fortunate that we've only had a few books along the way that have driven me crazy. Of course after the 50th time reading others, I am ready to hide them for awhile, but I think every parent would feel that way. Thanks for partying with us on #FridayFrivolity

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    1. Good point, Audrey...after 50 times, I'd probably be hiding even these beloved books! ;) Now my girls read voraciously, but on their own. So I'm saving these favorites for nieces and nephews and--way, way, WAY down the road--maybe grandchildren. Thanks to you and all the other #FridayFrivolity hostesses for putting on such a great party every week!

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  19. I love children's books; but I can't say I miss the days of reading the same books over and over and over again!

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    1. HA! I am really right there with you on that, mama! To everything a season, and I think it's fine to say there are some parts of some seasons we're okay with moving beyond! ;) Thanks so much for stopping by.

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  20. Awesome! We actually haven't read any of these so I'm adding them to our list! #shinebloghop

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    1. Well, yay, Erin...so glad I could introduce you to a few new ideas that might become old favorites in your house, too! :) Thanks for hopping over from the Shine!

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  21. ooooo I am going to have to make my list! Love reading to little people and you are right there are some out there that I just shake my head over. Thanks for sharing over at #lifeislovely

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    1. Yes, please do, Kim! I'd love to see it! :) Also, thanks for reassuring me it's not just me. ;) See you again soon at #lifeislovely!

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  22. I've never heard of these but as always, I loved your awesomely funny and sweet takes on each throughout! :-)

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    1. 1. Thank you, my sweet friend. 2. You would love these books. Your kids probably will, too, but I know you yourself would. Trust me on this. Would I steer you wrong? ;)

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  23. I need to add some of these titles to our library, I've only heard of 2!

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    1. I think you would love them, Victoria. Of course, that IS why I put them on this list, but still... ;) Happy (summer) reading!

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  24. Hi Elizabeth, I don't think I have heard of any of these books...but I could not help but laugh over the short introductions you gave. They must be such food treasures.
    Hugs and blessings to you Elizabeth

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    1. Awe, thanks, Ifeoma! I'm glad I could make these favorite books sound appealing...because I really think they are! Blessings back to you! :)

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  25. I absolutely adore The Giving Tree. It makes me cry every time though. lol

    I haven't read the other ones you suggested. Time to hit the library!

    Thanks for sharing! Wishing you a lovely evening.
    xoxo

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    1. Well, dear Jennifer, there is only one "Giving Tree." The rest of the books on the list will probably make you laugh, though, so it all works out to a nice balance! ;) Thank you as always for so graciously hosting the #SHINEBlogHop!

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  26. Ok...its been awhile since I searched for children's books - other than picking up picture books at yard sales. I have 2 granddaughters (3 & 18 mo), I took notes on your list and I'm planning on finding several of these. You completely sold me on Please is a Good Word to Say (don't they all need this book or is that just MY granddaughter?!). Thanks for the info - I trust your reviews. :)

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    1. Aw, thank you so much...that is one of the nicest compliments I've ever received. Bless your sweet heart! As for "Please": 1)no, it is surely NOT just your granddaughter! and 2)it was, truly, an easy sell because that book is a treasure. I really cannot wait for you to get ahold of a copy, because in addition to the excellent manners lessons, it is just the most hilarious, delightful, charming thing ever. Thank you so much for taking time to stop by, and may you and your granddaughters enjoy many precious hours of reading together!

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  27. Miss Fannie's Hat is wonderful and The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, well, it always makes me cry. I may be in the minority, but The giving Tree is not on my favorites list! Happy to add some of these others to my library list.

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    1. Abi, how fun to run across someone else who's a fan of "Miss Fannie's Hat" and "Jonathan Toomey"! :) "The Giving Tree" notwithstanding, I think you'll like some of the others, too. :) Thanks so much for stopping by!

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I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to tell me what you really think. Years ago, I explained to my then-two-year that my appointment with a counselor was "sort of like going to a doctor who will help me be a better mommy." Without blinking, she replied, "You'd better go every day." All of which is just to say I've spent some time in the school of brutal honesty!