My Top Ten Children’s Books
Now that I’m back in the States, I don’t have as much contingency planning to do, but if you’re overseas we all know that comes with the deal. I thought I could help you out today with a fun contingency planning exercise.
Here’s the situation: you have 24 hours to pack up and head out on a two-year overseas assignment. What do you toss in your bag?
Given the weight of this very plausible scenario, I’m sharing my list of Top Ten Children’s books for all ages and genders. Now that you have this list, you can spend your valuable packing time gathering other stuff like your unlocked cell phone, no-international-fee ATM card, hand-held luggage scale, duct tape, contact solution, laptop, favorite study Bible, frequent-flyer cards, miscellaneous chargers, portable hard drives, plane snacks and such.
Oh…and I’m not even assuming you have kids. Attention Everyone! You need these books in your life.
Dragons Love Tacos (Adam Rubin author & Daniel Salmieri illustrator) This instructive book on “how to plan a taco party” for dragons takes you along as a boy serves “Pantsloads of Tacos! Boatloads of Tacos!” to his dragon friends. You’ll giggle at the mishaps of his cross-cultural goodwill. I also love this book because I love tacos and reading this book to my kids during their formative years while they lived in “not Texas” insured the important value of loving tacos was deeply instilled in them.
Corduroy (Don Freeman author) This book about a bear exploring a huge department store and finding a true friend reminds me of the one and only escalator in the “big town” nearest the farm where I grew up. As a child, I stood in amazement as the great automated staircase in Wal-Greens transported me to a magical place stocked with crisp new wrangler blue jeans and household goods. Now, it also reminds me of my life in China when escalators were everywhere and they transported me to a magical place in the market stocked with plastic bags of every shape and size, fabric, plastic buckets, blow dryers, kites, red wedding decorations, ribbons, toddler trikes, light bulbs, fake Legos, stickers, paper, glue, yo-yos, envelopes and sporting goods!
Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late (Mo Willems author, illustrator) An innocent little pigeon who just wants to stay up past his bedtime brings plenty of opportunities for dramatization in this laugh-out-loud funny book. I especially love the pigeon’s argument that he shouldn’t have to go to bed because it’s the middle of the day in China because we’d always have to switch that to America while reading the book to our kids in China. And when the pigeon loses his mind and shouts “I’m nooooooot tirreeed!!!!” Yeah. This book just gets me.
The Story of Ferdinand (Munro Leaf author & Robert Lawson illustrator) Ferdinand is a Spanish bull with a different personality than the rest who gets taken on a little adventure to the city. I want to hug him! He’s the sweetest! I also love to try and pronounce the word “Picadores” with the proper Spanish accent. This book is for anyone who has ever felt completely misunderstood by the society around them and chooses to be themselves anyway.
Click Clack Moo, Cows that Type (Doreen Cronin author & Betsy Lewin illustrator) Farmer Brown is in heap of trouble when his cows get ahold of a type-writer and start communicating. It just plain cracks me up every time I read this book and think about cows typing and the …CLICK CLACK MOO! CLICKETY CLACK MOO!… sound coming from the barn. Writing and agriculture all rolled up into a delightful children’s book: the stuff of true hilarity!
Madeline (Ludwig Bemelmans author, illustrator) The fact that it’s set in Paris has me hooked, and it gets bonus points because you get to say “Pooh Pooh!” while reading this book (I’m kinda immature like that). I admire Madeline for her audacity when it comes to tigers because I am deathly afraid of them. You will not catch me in SE Asia posing with sedated giant cats, no ma’am. Also, the illustrations are mostly all yellow which will bring much needed sunshine to the dullest of gray winter days.
Llama Llama Mad at Mama (Anna Dewdney author, illustrator) Little Llama is happily playing on the floor when Mama grabs him, tosses him in the car and takes him on a shopping trip. Things quickly go downhill from there. The illustration of the little Llama throwing a fit in the grocery store will bring a smile to your face even on your worst day with a toddler. “Little Llama, what a tizzy!” I love the other “Llama Llama” books, but this one is my favorite. I should read it any time I considering taking my kids with me into Wal-Mart.
The Snowy Day (Ezra Jack Keats author) “And he thought about the day’s adventures…and he thought and he thought and he thought about them.” This is a surprising pick for a self-professed hater of winter. But it’s one of my favorites, nonetheless as it keeps you company in a good way, capturing the extraordinary innocence and simplicity of childhood when a fresh snow and a good stick were all you needed for an adventure.
Time Traveler (Usborne Books) There’s just something about time travel that fascinates me. This book has captivated the imaginations of myself and my older boys. We love to stare at the detailed illustrations of times gone by and read about how people used to do life way back when. It’s also a good reminder that we’ve got a pretty good deal in life living during the present age.
The Lego Ideas Book (Daniel Lipkowitz author) I’ve loved Lego as long as I can remember, and my husband and kids share my passion as well. We’ve collected quite a few Lego bricks over the years, and thankfully all of them, along with The Lego Ideas Book made the big trip across the ocean when we moved from China to Texas. Open the book and instantly get those creative juices flowing. This is a perfect go-to for those “I’m boooooooooored” moments.
The Jesus Storybook Bible (Sally Lloyd-Jones author & Jago illustrator) This is number eleven if you’re counting, but it’s such a given in my mind it’s on a completely different list titled “items to never leave behind when moving across the ocean.” Get this for your family if you have little ones, and even if you don’t it’s a great read as it tells the story of the Bible from cover to cover in a simple yet engaging way (which is awesome to share with new believers). We’ve read it more times than we can count. I’m head over heels for the illustrations as well as the beautiful words on every single page of this book!
Ask me tomorrow and the list will change because who could possibly choose only ten children’s books? Do tell which book(s) you’d grab if you had to leave right now!