Whenever someone learns that I work at a library, they usually ask one of three questions:
1. What’s your favorite book?
2. What are you reading?
3. What do you recommend?
The last two are usually more enjoyable to answer than the first question, but lately those questions have been very difficult for me. I’m going to be honest here. Yes, I work at a library, but I am not a librarian. I’m also the parent of a one-year-old, and so right now between working full time and parenting that little fellow, the answer is that I read a lot of the same five books. Over, and over, and over again. I hope that some time in the next year I will learn how to get dinner on the table before 8:30 at night; I hope that I will find time and space to read for myself again; I hope that maybe Calvin will learn to like more books (he will). But for now, it’s these five. So I present to you Calvin’s (the one-year-old) favorite five books, which I somehow still don’t hate even though I read them each at least five times a day.
ORANGE PEAR APPLE BEAR
by Emily Gravett
The premise of this book is simple: four words, combined in varied ways, create new pictures. I don’t want to spoil the jokes, so I’ll leave the description there. Calvin loves to be asked, “Where’s the bear?”; the bear looks slightly different on every page, so it feels like a challenge. Plus, I roar when he finds it, so there’s that.
HAPPY HIPPO, ANGRY DUCK
by Sandra Boynton
This was the first book Calvin actually listened to in its entirety. And then asked to hear again. And again. In Calvin’s eyes, this book has three real strengths: first, it’s not too long. Second, it’s filled with a variety of animals. Third, as each animal represents a different emotion, the opportunities for silly and changing voices abound. This one’s a great read-aloud for little ones, and I’m still amused by the book’s final insistence that “A difficult mood is not here to stay. Unless you’re that duck. He’s always this way.”
THE FOOT BOOK
by Dr. Seuss
It’s always satisfying when your child loves a book that you loved as a child, so when Calvin willingly sat in my lap and listened as we read about all these variously positioned, colored, and tempered feet, we both felt as fuzzy inside as “fuzzy fur feet”. This book is fun for all the usual reasons that a Dr. Seuss book is fun: delightfully silly rhymes, that signature art style, the way that something so ordinary becomes whimsical. After we’re done reading, Calvin loves to open up to either the very front or very back pages (which have tons of images of the main character) and we just keep saying, “Feet! Feet! Feet! Feet!” This is a part of the story his Dad invented, and it’s his favorite.
MY BIG ANIMAL BOOK
by Richard Priddy
This is probably the book we spend the most time with. Our copy is a large board book that we picked up at the Library’s Used Book Store, and Calvin loves to carry it around because his first love is carrying objects that seem much too large for him (at grandma’s house, his favorite thing to play with is her steam mop. But I digress…). This one is great for especially young kids; lots of animals, each isolated on a bright colored background (making it easy to distinguish them from one another and point to your favorites). Calvin’s favorite is the bunny. The chicken and the giraffe are close seconds.
I LOVE YOU, STINKY FACE
by Lisa McCourt
I fully expect Calvin to move on from a few of these books before he can really comprehend their message, but this is one I hope he sustains interest in long enough to really understand the story. In I LOVE YOU, STINKY FACE, a child prolongs his bedtime routine by posing an escalating series of “what if?” scenarios to his patient, patient mother. “What if I smelled so bad my name was Stinky Face? What if I was a terrible meat-eating dinosaur? Would you still love me?” The book is silly and playful, but reinforces maybe the best lesson: that no amount of bad breath, big teeth, or bug-eating can stop a parent from loving their child.