I read a lot of kids books. A lot. I have three kids, so at any time throughout the day, we might be reading a story. My youngest has been heavily influenced by my oldest, so if he has his way, it’ll be a Batman, Sonic the Hedgehog or a Ninjago story. Sometimes I get to choose, though. Strong emphasis on the "sometimes".
When that happens, I like to pick some of my favorites from when he was not totally obsessed with toy- and character-based stories and simply liked a story. (Not that the 100 Ninjago stories I’ve read are not great, but they can be a bit repetitive.)
I thought it’d be fun to put together a list of some of the books I love to read to my kids, on the off-chance you get to pick the story when you read to your kids. This list focuses solely on Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
Here in Nashville, my kids all signed up for this amazing charity that Dolly (the angel) created to help kids have access to books. Every month, my kids get a new book in the mail. You can sign them up the day they’re born, and they get a new book every month until they turn 5.
The kids love book day, and I do too, because its a chance to finally read a new book. (I can’t be the only parent whose kids insist on reading the same story repeatedly.) Normally, these books are amazing, and that’s why I started my list with my Imagination Library favorites.
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell: I love this book. The rest of this list is in no particular order, but this is No. 1 for a reason. It’s a great story about being proud of who you are and all your unique, special gifts, even if others don’t recognize them as such. You be you, Molly Lou.
Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney: It’s a Llama book, I know your kids love them. My kids love them too. I just love her stories, the illustrations and the fact that the mom lets little Llama know that sometimes Momma is just busy. A fun take on this story is when Ludacris did a reading of it. That definitely doesn’t hurt its standing on the list.
Jake at Gymnastics by Rachel Isadora: This book is adorable. I love that it doesn’t have a lot of words, but focuses more on actions. We have a good time reading this one and pointing out what all the kids are doing at their class. Occasionally, the kids will act this one out while we read it.
Truck Stop by Anne Rockwell: My youngest loves cars and trucks, so that made this one an immediate favorite. The artwork is bright and lively, and we like pointing out all the different colors and types of trucks.
Mine-O-Saur by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen: I think all kids have a little Mine-O-Saur in them. Sometimes the rhyming pattern bothers me on this one, but I like the story and message so much I can overlook it. It’s a great way to talk to your kids about sharing, and about what is truly important when playing with friends.
Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasan: This is the first of two books that I put here purely for the artwork. I would hang up prints from this book around my house — that’s how beautiful I think this book is. The story is sweet and simple, but the illustration really sets this one apart for me.
My No, No, No Day by Rebecca Patterson: My daughter and I both needed this book in our lives. We often have “No, No, No Days” in our house, and Rebecca Patterson nails it. I read this one with as much character and emphasis as I can muster, and we all have a good laugh at it.
Meet Me at the Moon by Gianna Marino: Book number 2 of my favorite artwork of all time. The story is also a good one for our family because Matt and I both travel. It has an important message of how even if we go away, we always come back. That we love them no matter how far apart we are.
Pretend by Jennifer Barrett: I love this book because it values imagination. I also love the focus on the father-son relationship. I think that relationship can often get overlooked in children’s literature, so it’s nice to see a dad just kneel down and start imagining with his son. My oldest really loved this book.
A House Is a House for Me by Mary Ann Hoberman: This is a great rhyming book with really fun pictures. Each page has a built-in picture search with the images. It also makes for some silly conversations about the different houses and which one would you want to live in.
You Are My I Love You by Maryann K. Cusimano: We got a bilingual version of this book with both English and Spanish translation in the pages. My friend Jude (who is fluent in Spanish) cried when she read this to my kids because she said the Spanish translation was so beautiful. Despite my brother living in Chile with his wife and two kids, I am not fluent in Spanish, so I love this book for the poem. It’s a beautiful description of a parent’s love for their child.
Ladybug Girl and Bingo by David Soman and Jacky Davis: We love reading this book as a family, and afterward, my daughter loves to find a costume to be some sort of “girl” as well. As the owner of two dogs, it is a good intro to making sure we pay attention to our pets. It also is another great book that celebrates imagination.
If I Built A Car by Chris Van Dusen: My oldest loves this book. He loves to come up with his own additions to what he would add to a car. In fact, this book made him want to be an engineer for several months (sadly, the idea of being a professional ninja finally lured him away). The pictures are fun, and the story has you wishing that this car could be a reality.
Betty Bunny Didn’t Do It by Michael Kaplan: This is a fun book to introduce responsibility for one’s actions. I also love the interaction of the siblings in this book. Each bunny has very distinct ways of dealing with trouble, and it’s cute to see how they disagree.
ABCers by Carole Lexa Schaefer: This is a great ABCs book, and I love the illustrations. At one point I think my oldest had most of it memorized. We loved how the ABCs were used to describe kids’ play and not just your typical picture or object. It was fun to explore the city with the kids and see all the fun they were having.
Did I miss any Imagination Library gems? Have you signed up for it yet? If not, what are you waiting for? Look at all those amazing books! I’ll have another list compiled soon. Happy reading!