Top Five Children’s Authors

With a three-year-old and an 18-month-old at home, I spend a lot of time reading children’s books. And loving it! There are so many good authors out there, but sometimes when I get to the library I feel stuck. So I thought it seemed like a good time to document, in no particular order, some of the authors we enjoy reading together the most.

1. Janet and Allan Ahlberg: author and illustrator of delightful books such as “Peek-A-Boo” and “Each Peach Pear Plum,” we are happy to have this couple at home on our bookshelf. My sister loved “Each Peach Pear Plum” as a toddler and wanted to read and reread it so often that all I can remember about it is hating its redundancy. Nine months pregnant and in the board book aisle at Vroman’s bookstore in Pasadena, though, it was the first book to draw me in. The simple rhymes and fanciful pictures combined with the play on characters kids are already familiar with make it a winner. The girls also love their other books, such as “The Baby’s Catalogue,” which documents in pictures the things and people and activities that make up a day in the life of five different babies. What baby doesn’t love to look at pictures of babies?

2. James Marshall: another book I picked up at the library because of my childhood memories was “George and Martha.” Like most memories, this one was not fleshed out but dwelled within me as a warm feeling. The first time I read it out loud to Lily, however, I realized why I had loved these books as a kid. Marshall’s sense of humor is dry and witty and the friendships of these two characters is forgiving, honest, and generous, a great model for my own kids.

3. Jonathan London, “Like Butter on Pancakes“: we have gotten other London books out of our library and have not found any we love so well as this one. This book came into our home library mysteriously (Grandma? garage sale? Marc’s?), but has become one of my very favorite books in our collection. In the form of a poem (and modeled after the poetry of another of my favorite poets, Pablo Neruda), London draws the reader through a day in the life of a farm kid. The imagery appeals to all senses, warming me from the inside as I imagine the morning sun “melt[ing] like butter on pancakes,” the “spoons sleep[ing] nestled in their kitchen drawers,” and the child going for a “run and jump and tumble in the hay.” Certainly makes me want to go back and relive my childhood, on a farm, in a pair of bunny slippers.

4. Nikki McClure: we received “Awake to Nap” from a dear friend as a baby gift for Lily. It instantly become a part of her nightly bedtime routine, and since, we have acquired two more of her picture books and become great admirers of her art. Her works are papercuts and are detailed and beautiful and focus on the natural world and all of its wonders. If you’ve never yet seen her art work, go and find some right now. Now!

5. Mo Willems: Lily loves to fly because it means seeing family. And we live close to the Portland airport, so she sees a lot of planes. So when Wess got her “Knuffle Bunny Free” in which Trixie loses her bunny on the airplane on the way to her grandparents, of course! it became an instant favorite. We have since discovered that all of his works are delightful, in their simplicity of illustration and of story, in their humor, in their off-beat topics. Even the books that I would never think would be appealing have Lily mesmerized, like “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” (honestly, I didn’t even think she got it! But she asked for it over and over).

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