Ten Picture Books I Could Read with My Eyes Closed by Jennifer Brittin
“My Dear Lucy,
I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be
your affectionate Godfather,
I love the magical feel of these words written for the dedication of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. “Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” Each time I read this, I think about the many books that I placed on some upper shelf when I thought myself too old to enjoy them anymore. And how thankful I have been to take them down, dust them off, and read them once more with my own children.
What a unique privilege it is for the many teachers, librarians, parents, and grandparents who get to enjoy the magic of children’s books a second time in life. And although there may be nothing like discovering a wonderful story for the first time as a child, seeing it through the eyes of our little ones is an unmatched joy.
So it is with a smile on my face that I present a list of ten picture books. Ten picture books my children and I love. Some of them I am discovering again after many years on a dusty shelf, and others I am falling in love with for the first time. These ten books have been a part of what we call the Every-Nighter Club at my house. Books that, on occasion, I was tempted to hide under the couch or in the basement. Books that I could read with my eyes closed, not just because I’ve read them a hundred times, but because they are imprinted on my heart forever.
Hopefully while reading this list, you will be flooded with fond memories and find yourself taking a look at that upper shelf of your old favorites.
Socks for Supper by Jack Kent, 1978
When we moved into our house thirteen years ago, this book was buried in a dark corner of the basement. What a treasure! From the time they were two, all of my children loved this simple story that couldn’t end more perfectly.
The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper, 1930
I don’t want to brag, but I definitely do a stellar job voicing the parts of the Big Strong Engine, the Rusty Old Engine, and the woebegone dolls and toys. And we’re always relieved each time that the boys and girls over the mountain end up with good food to eat and toys to play with.
The Little Kitten by Judy Dunn, 1983
What is it about little kids and a mischievous kitten? I remember getting this book one Easter and reading it over and over. I was delighted when my children enjoyed the hi-jinks of this kitten as much as I did.
Are You My Mother? By P.D. Eastman, 1960
Another book that made the journey from my childhood home into my children’s hearts was this classic beginner book. Books that repeat the same phrases over and over always seal the deal with my kids. It must be that feeling of Hey! I’m reading! as they finish the sentences before I can start them.
The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman, 1997
My mother gave my oldest daughter this book as a present when she was very young, and the fact that I have such a lengthy book memorized is a testament to how beloved it is in my house. Truth be known, I may love this book even more than my kids do, and I cannot wait to dust this off fifteen or twenty years from now when my daughter has some silly eaters of her own.
Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann and Elizabeth Kann, 2006
This book entered our home after a teacher friend of mine COULD NOT BELIEVE that we hadn’t ever read it. We’ve since built a collection of Kann titles, but none have ever rivaled that first taste of the pink cupcake with a cherry on top.
Chalk by Bill Thomson, 2010
Okay, okay. I know I can’t actually read this one with my eyes closed, but my youngest and I have taken turns telling the story of Chalk over and over again.
What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? By Steve Jenkins & Robin Page, 2003
Lovingly nicknamed The Funny Animals Book by my four year old, I must have read this each night for several weeks before we could get other books back into the bedtime rotation. She memorized it almost instantly and can often be found repeating aloud to herself in the car or the bathtub. “If you’re a skunk, you lift your tail to warn that a stinky spray is on the way.” (That’s her favorite.)
Tea Party Rules by Ame Dyckman, 2014
We brought this book home from the library this summer. I read it ten times in one day. And then we had it twenty more days after that. You get the idea.
Perfect the Pig by Susan Jeschke, 1980
I saved my favorite for last. I found most of my favorite books on Reading Rainbow when I was young. I found Perfect on the shelves of my little library for years before I found myself too old for such stories. Each time I’ve shared it with one of my three children I’ve worried that the black and white pencil illustrations won’t be exciting enough to hold their attention. I’ve been wrong three times. A few months ago I read this to my youngest for the first time. She was absolutely silent until the end. And when I was done, she simply turned back to the first page and said, “Read it again.”
Here’s hoping that all of the books that we share with children for the first or the fiftieth time have the same happy ending.
Jennifer Brittin has taught fourth grade for the past twelve years. She is beginning an exciting new chapter of her life as the K-5 Teacher Librarian in her school. Read about her experiences teaching literacy on her blog www.corneroffourth.wordpress.com. You can find her on Twitter @jenbrittin.