With a family like mine, you’ve gotta have a serious love for books. Let’s just say – out of my parents and siblings, I am the least educated person, with a four-year degree in philosophy.
Yeah. We’re that kinda family. A couple of PhD’s, an MDiv, a post-grad specialized diploma. Books are practically more important than air in my family.
Inevitably, I got bit badly by the reading bug growing up, and I still love books to this day.
In our house we are easing in to a Charlotte Mason homeschooling approach, and as such care very much about the quality of the books we choose. We prefer ‘twaddle-free’, and are beginning to refine our choices.
I’m not going to pretend to know if every book on this list passes the ‘CM-approved’ litmus test, since we are fairly new to the Mason method, but I do know one thing for sure: My kids LOVE these books. They all have a rhyme or rhythm to their words and they practically hum and dance themselves along the page as you are drawn in to the story. They are engaging and brilliantly written.
These are the family favourites that have enchanted and delighted my kids. Our oldest is five now, and the latest thing that has been totally cracking us up in when he talks about “when I was still four”. Indeed, he has done a fair bit in his few years on earth, not least of which has been to cultivate a love for a good book. I’m a proud mama.
Here are ten of our all-time family favourites, in no particular order. Highly recommended by Isaac, Aliza, and Canaan!
1. Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site
This book just enchants me. Yes, me, the mother. I love it. I’ve never felt so tender toward construction equipment, ha! “The sun has set, the work is done; it’s time for trucks to end their fun. So one by one they’ll go to bed, to yawn and rest their sleepy heads, then wake up to another day of rough-and-tough construction play.”
2. Llama Llama Red Pajama
We LOVE this book as a gentle parenting approach to dealing with bedtime fears, and easing in to a feeling of security. Mama reassures baby llama that she’s always close by even if she’s not in the bedroom with him. This was invaluable to us when we gently transitioned our kids away from needing us in the room while they fell asleep. “Even when she’s not right here, mama llama’s always near.”
3. Pout Pout Fish
This one is just terribly cute. The rhythm of it makes me bob my head along as I read, and the kids love joining in with the repetitive parts. “I’m a pout-pout fish with a pout-pout face. I spread the dreary-wearies all over the place. Blub, blub, blub.”
4. Bear Wants More
This one is super cute for little ones who are astonished that bear is oh-so-hungry. Another one that uses repetitive lines on each page. My kids just absolutely love joining in each time. “When springtime comes, in his warm winter den, a bear wakes up, very hungry and thin… But the BEAR WANTS MORE!”
5. Going on a Bear Hunt
This one’s a classic. I first heard borrowed it from the library, but loved it so much we had to buy our own copy. The rhythm and onomatopoeia (see, I did learn something in grade 8 after all) in this book is pure joy. “We’re going on a bear hunt. We’re going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day! We’re not scared. Oh-oh! Mud! Thick, oozy mud. We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. Oh, no! We’ve got to go through it! Squelch squerch! Squelch squerch! Squelch squerch!”
6. No, No Noah
We had this one completely memorized for about 2 years straight. A Ricci family top fave. “‘Come down monkey!’ Noah cried, ‘There’s the ark! Now run inside!’ But I kept swinging in my tree. ‘No, no, Noah! Don’t take me!”
7. Little Blue Truck
This is another top fave. We have Isaac on video reciting the whole thing form memory at two years old, which makes my heart so happy. This is my go-to for gifts – the prose is just brilliantly written and captivating. The follow up (the one in the city) is good, but not as good as this one. “Horn went beep! Engine purred. Friendliest sounds you ever heard. Little blue truck rolled down the road. ‘Beep!’ said Blue to a big green toad. Toad went ‘Croak!’ and winked an eye, as Little Blue Truck went rolling by.”
8. Moo, Baa, La La La!
This is just pure fun. My kids just delight in the silliness of thinking of pigs singing. Boynton books bring out the joy, and they do it masterfully. “A cow says Moo, a sheep says Baa. Three singing pigs say ‘la la la’…”
9. Dr. Seuss’s ABC’s
So many Dr. Seuss books – most are rich with rhyme and rhythm. This one is one that I remember from my childhood, and I so enjoy reading it to my own kids! “Big B, little b. What begins with B? Barber baby bubbles on a bumblebee…”
10. Brown Bear Brown Bear
This one is classically simple, yet brilliant. It’s engaging and rhythmic, and easy enough for the younger readers to get into. Each other volume in the series is also worth a read! “Brown bear, brown bear, What do you see? I see a red bird looking at me. Red bird, red bird, What do you see? I see a yellow duck looking at me…”
What’s your favourite rhyming & rhythm book for toddler/preschooler crowd?
(I am already planning on a part two. Leave your favourite titles in the comments for me to check out!)
Maybe it’s out of print because I never see it on any such lists. I LOVE “Tanka Tanka Skunk” by Steve Webb.
just a list of animals but great rhythm for 4 year old storytime!
Our home library has many of the selections you have listed here. I completely agree that they are wonderful for any little and not so little ones to enjoy time and time again. Here is one more I hope you will consider as an addition to this list. I hear the author is pretty awesome too ?!! AHNI AND HER DANCING SECRET by Shereen Rahming
Available thru Amazon.com and readandglowbooks.com
We love Llama, Llama… and Moo, Baa, La La La! Another of our favorites is Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom! Our 2 1/2 yr old son has loved this one for about a year now, and it’s great for introducing the alphabet.
We recently found a couple other R&R books at the library that we both really like: one is King Jack and the Dragon which is a fun story with a subtle rhyming cadence about imagination. The other is Freight Train, which we got in the bilingual edition and read in Spanish. It’s very simple but has good rhythm and he wanted to read it over and over.
I love Sandra Boynton! I was also waiting for Little Blue Truck on the list because that is one of my all time favs. I will check out Bear Wants More because Bear Snores On is also one of our favorites.
“Bringing Rain to Kapiti Plain” by Verna Aardema!!! My mom used to read this to me as a child and I still love it to this day!! It has such an enchanting rhythm and I love that it builds on itself as it goes on. Beautiful book!
My 2-year-old loves Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” and “The Sleep Book”. The latter is one of my personal favorites 🙂
Rachel @ reprezent98201
Sheep in a Jeep!!! 🙂
Erin @ Home and Grace
Umm…YOU HAVE A DEGREE IN PHILOSOPHY!?!?! That’s amazing.
(pulling myself together) I’m falling in love with anything Sandra Boynton. I picked up a copy of ‘Your Personal Penguin’ for my husband when we were dating and I now love reading it to our daughter. She’s also really liking ‘The Cat in the Hat’ and after years of hating it, it’s growing on me.
We love Moo Baa La La La here, and Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Helen Oxenbury – I read them both almost every day 🙂
My girls love most Phoebe Gilman books (Something from Nothing, Jillian Jiggs, Baloon Tree), Nancy Van Laan (especially So Say the Monkeys) and Jamberry by Bruce Degen. Just to mention a few. We have a serious love of books here too!
Great list! I love some of Sandra Boynton’s other books too: Pajama Time, the Going to Bed book. And Dr. Suess “There’s a Wocket in my Pocket” is fun!
Pajama Time by Sandra Boynton is a great book to read at bedtime. It’s a family favorite.
Sarah E. A. F.
Love it! Thanks for the lovely examples. I have had a lifelong love affair with books and am oh, so excited to start reading my son (and any subsequent children that may happen along). One of my favorites that will have to wait till he’s older is the Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. The imagery in that book is breathtaking. Seriously. I also love Make Way for Ducklings!!
A favorite of my boys is “Barnyard Dance” by Sandra Boynton.
When D. was little he used to ask for it ALL THE TIME. At one point I thought, “I should probably read something else to him,” so I sent him to find another book, sticking that one behind me so he couldn’t pick it again.
He proudly came back with ANOTHER COPY OF IT. I didn’t even know we had two copies.
I figured for that, he deserved another time through so we happily read it again.