In honor of Read Across America Week, I’m going to share my favorite guilty pleasure purchase with you. Any guesses?
Nope, not shoes. I’m a two-pairs-should-do-it kind of gal. Not purses, not makeup, occasionally nail polish, and maybe a kitchen gadget here or there.
But do you wanna know what really sucks me in? What I consistently buy that we probably do not need and definitely don’t have room for?
Just this weekend, my boys and I went through “The Pile.” One by one they called out “keep!” or “pass it on.” Eventually, we had a decent amount for donation and put the keepers back on the bookshelf–a bookshelf somehow as full as ever.
All of this to say: you’re in luck! It’s Read Across America Week and to celebrate, we’re sharing our favorites.
Below you’ll find a list of our absolute favorites—broken down into the most winning categories: adventure, intrigue, and laughability. I’ll include picture books and educational books that appeal to all ages as well as early readers and chapter books. Enjoy!
For Kids Who Love Adventure
by Brian Floca
Why we love it: This nonfiction book about the Apollo 11 mission that landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon reads like the swell of a grand orchestra. The courage! The support! The victory! My throat catches every time we reach the crescendo.
Favorite line: Armstrong, calling from the Moon, calm as a man who just parked a car. “Houston,” he says. “Tranquility base here. The Eagle has landed.” Armstrong is calm—but on Earth they cheer!
by Frank Viva
Why we love it: Beyond the most-perfect illustrations, there is the winding road, which travels seamlessly from cover to cover, leading a man on his bike through town. He passes people and cars and crosses a bridge—all while wearing a smile as peaceful as this book.
Favorite line: Along a long road going up. Around a small town and down. Into a tunnel and out.
by Andy Mcquire and Girish Manuel
Why we love it: Micah’s a normal kid—just like yours and mine. He has hopes and dreams, he gets embarrassed, and he loves goofing off and trying new things with his friends. And while it reads just like the other books libraries can’t keep in stock, this one—and every story in the series–has an overarching message of hope.
Favorite line: Warning: I recommend not doing this dance in front of other people unless they forgot their glasses at home or love you very much.
by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinksi
Why we love it: Two books in one! Everything you could ever want to know about the things that lie beneath–packaged in an eye-catching, detail-oriented book that kids return to again and again. Learn about volcanoes, geysers, electricity, subways, caves, anthills, submarines, sinkholes, lantern fish, buoyancy, underwater chimneys and so much more!
Favorite page: Anything and everything about sewage. Did I mention I have two boys?
For Kids Who Love Intrigue
by Aaron Becker
Why we love it: I used to think, “How can a book be a book without words?” But this one won me over. A bored young girl uses a single red marker to enter a whole new world. What is she up to? Where is she going? How will she get home? Each read offers a new discovery. And the remaining books in the trilogy are every bit as good as the first.
Favorite part: Falling, falling, falling, the young girl draws as she falls and–just like that–she begins to float up and away to safety.
by Julie Morstad
Why we love it: Kids love autonomy and this book has it in spades. What shall we do today? And what will you wear? What should we eat? And how will you style your hair? With cheery illustrations, this is just the beginning as kids move through the day making choices.
Favorite line: There are many ways to get there. How would YOU get there? On a bus? On a camel? By bike? By car? On a skateboard? Get pushed? On a slow boat? Dance your way there? Hitch a ride? Paddle? Fly? With a friend? Horsey ride? Follow the Leader? Jog?
Why we love it: An oldie but oh-so-goodie. This guidebook is jam-packed with hilarious illustrations and legitimate ideas for teaching kids to pick up a trail, decipher secret codes, and create intricate disguises. What could be more fun than that?
Favorite funny tip: Feline crawl: Do this crawl on your hands and knees, keeping your back flat and low. At each step lift your foot just clear of the ground. Never drag your feet. It is important to keep your head down low and try not to bob it up and down.
by Pete Oswald
Why we love it: Another wordless wonder, this story begins with a dad waking up his kid and hitting the road in an FJ40. Throughout the day, they spot bugs and birds, walk across a fallen tree, throw snowballs and make their way to a high peak. But there’s something extra special about this hike. Find out at the end and go back to the beginning to look for clues!
Favorite part: Father and child reach, reach, reach across the page toward one another until, finally, the dad wraps his arms around his kid in a moment of pride and relief.
For Kids Who Love to Laugh
By Philippe Coudray
Why we love it: These short stories come in a graphic-novel format that’s welcoming for new readers. The whole family will enjoy listening to reading practice as Benjamin Bear gets himself in and out of predicaments in the most creative of ways. Expect lots of giggles.
Favorite part: A bird and a fish would love to see what’s under the sea. Benjamin Bear takes them both for a walk to the beach and under they go—but how will this work? Thankfully he’s thought up a silly and smart solution!
by Arnold Lobel
Why we love it: Lucy and Ethel, Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin, Han Solo and Chewbacca—these pals have nothing on the friendship that is Frog and Toad. Frog and Toad couldn’t be more different, but that’s okay. They know how to have a good time—or a bad time—in the company of a friend.
Favorite line: “I wonder if we are brave,” said Frog. Frog and Toad looked into a mirror. “We look brave,” said Frog. “Yes, but are we?” asked Toad.
by Phil Vischer
Why we love it: The vibrant colors and illustrations appeal to a kid’s sense of wonder and fun. But it’s the structure of this Bible that we cherish most. In addition to the stories themselves, you’ll find teachings that help kids better understand and apply the stories.
Favorite part: The Bible isn’t the most straightforward or easy-to-understand book. Throughout this one, you’ll find a section called, “Tricky Bits” which tackles the tougher questions head-on. Like: Why do we follow some of the laws in the Bible but not all of them?
By Shel Silverstein
Why we love it: Some books are classic for a reason. From the pictures to the poems, this one keeps kids coming back for laugh after laugh. And the interest level spans the ages. Both my husband and I loved Silverstein in middle school, my 4- and 7-year-old boys can’t get enough today and the adult in me sees all the bits of irony I missed when I was young.
Favorite line: Oh, if you’re a bird, be an early bird and catch the worm for your breakfast plate. If you’re a bird be an early early bird—but if you’re a worm sleep late.