A Children’s Librarian’s Version of “My Favorite Things”

As a librarian who primarily serves children, my favorite things are invariably books.  Since I have been a librarian since 1993, my list is understandably long and varied.  Different books become my favorite for different reasons.  I would like to share the titles of some of my favorite picture books and the reasons they are my favorites.

One of my favorites from the start of my career that I still read today is, Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber.  It remains a favorite in part for the illustrations, and in part for the back and forth dialogue between Ira and his sister, and Ira and best friend Reggie.  The illustrations are full of the details of family life, as is the dialogue and side comments between Ira and his sister.  My favorite side remark occurs when Ira comes home early from the sleepover and remarks of his sister that “she was still up.”  I can hear myself saying the same thing in that same slightly outraged tone of voice, when a sibling was extended a treat that I missed.

A few years further along I discovered the books of Karma Wilson.  The first book of hers that stood out for me was Bear Snores On.  It was and remains a great read aloud.  But my current favorite by Karma Wilson is The Cow Loves Cookies!  The narrator visits with various farm animals talking about the foods they eat, before reminding the reader that The Cow Loves Cookies.  I just love sharing it with preschoolers, and my many great nieces and great nephews, not to mention my grandchildren!

Another Bear series that I am happy to share in story time and with family is the Bonny Becker series starting with A Visitor for Bear.  Throughout the various titles in the series, A Bedtime for Bear, A Birthday for Bear, and Sniffles for Bear, Bear is quite sure he doesn’t want whatever it is that Mouse (“small, and gray, and bright-eyed”) is bringing.  But in the end, Bear finds Mouse an irresistible force.  I, too, can’t resist Mouse, the illustrations, and the language of the books.  When A Visitor for Bear arrived on our new books cart, I called my husband at home and read it out loud to him; I just had to share it with someone immediately.  Yes, he knows I am a library geek, and he is OK with it.

A lesser known book, Waiting for Winter by Sebastian Meschenmoser, is a wonderful mix of pictures and text that tells the story of 3 forest animals waiting to see snow for the first time.  Deer tells them that snow is cold and white and wet, and the animals find some interesting examples of what they think is snow before the real thing starts falling.  This is a gem of a picture book with incredibly detailed illustrations that make the story.

An author who depends less on language and more on vibrant colors and bold illustrations is Jan Thomas.   Favorites from her titles include A Birthday for Cow, Rhyming Dust Bunnies, and a new take on an old joke, In the Doghouse.  The stories are funny; the illustrations are vibrant and eye catching, just perfect for toddler story times, and preschool and kindergarten settings.

No list of my favorite picture book characters would be complete without including Elephant and Piggie, and the Pigeon.  My love affair with the books of Mo Willems began with Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog, and continues through the Elephant and Piggie series.  My most recent must-have title in the series is I Broke My Trunk.  Again, I have shared my obsession through story times, and with family members, my daughter needed ALL the Elephant and Piggie books for her twins, and I have a great picture of my grandson cuddling his Pigeon stuffed toy.

Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly, this list is just the tip of the iceberg of my favorite picture books.  As I sit down to read stories, I almost always introduce whatever books I am going to read to my students or story time participants as “one of my favorite books” and it is almost always true.

- Betty Jane O.


Popular posts from this blog

Ocean-in-a-Bottle Craft for Kids

Neil Gaiman Ruined My Life

The Discipline of Gratitude