By TMoM Team Member Laura Simon
It was a long day, today. One of those days where getting through nightly children’s books seemed like a nearly impossible proposition. When my daughter bounded into bed with the latest saccharine tale about friendly woodland creatures learning to work out their differences, something in me snapped.
“Nope, kiddo. Not tonight,” I told her. “Tonight, Mama picks the book.”
And I marched to the bookcase and made a choice that makes me howl with laughter every single time: Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems. A slightly sarcastic twist on the original fairy tale, this one layers humor that only adults will get. The dinosaur house, for example, is decorated with a poster from the favorite baseball team, The Asteroids. Another poster represents the local utility company and proclaims, “We Are Natural Gas.” Yes, dinosaurs. Yes, you are.
There’s a ton of great children’s books out there: books that teach, books that inspire, books that charm…but my favorite are the books that let mom and dad laugh just as hard on the 300th take as they did on the first. Here are a few of my favorites:
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka. Told from the perspective of A. Wolff, this take on the original fairy tale attempts generate some sympathy for the wolf, who never got to tell his side of the story. In reality, you know, the wolf never intended to blow their houses down; he simply had a bad cold. In addition to making me chuckle every single time, this is a great way to teach perspective even to older kids. I read this to my eighth-grade students every year, and they like it just as much as my kids.
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt. This story is told in the unique voices of the crayons in Duncan’s crayon box. Some of them are quite content with their lot, but many are nearing revolt. And someone tore off poor tan crayon’s wrapper, so he has to go to school naked. The crayon voices are hilarious (and some of you will recognize family members and co-workers in this highly-relatable bunch). This is a case where the sequel, The Day the Crayons Came Home, delivers just as many laughs as the first book.
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson. It’s possible that I have a dark sense of humor, but this classic about an enterprising mouse who uses the terrifying Gruffalo to save his own skin never gets old. My only regret is that we didn’t discover this one until my youngest was five. I missed out on years of reading this on repeat – and believe me, it’s worth repeating.
Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish. Any children’s book about Amelia Bedelia will do. She’s funny. The word play is creative and entertaining, and who doesn’t know someone who disastrously misunderstood the assignment? My personal favorite is when she dresses the chicken. Literally. In clothes. Fortunately she makes a really wonderful pie.
Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel. My mom read the Frog and Toad books to me, so suffice to say they’re old. They’re a mix of sappy, sentimental, and hilarious; I chose this particular book because of one story in particular: “Cookies.” To this day, when someone eats the last cookie, someone in my house will declare, “I’m going home to bake a cake.” Willpower, it turns out, is over-rated.
Henry’s Awful Mistake by Robert Quackenbush. Yes, apparently that is the author’s real name. I have no words. This is another book I grew up with, and I find it even more relatable – and hilarious – as an adult as I did as a kid. It stands the test of time, too – thanks to a mother who saved everything, I’m reading to my own kids from my childhood copy – and they love it, too. Sometimes when you see an ant in the kitchen, it’s best to look the other way.
This list is just a start, but hopefully these children’s books give you some delight when you get to read them for a month straight. It might as well be something you like.
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