I am so close to sitting down and unwinding after a long day, but first comes story time. Our kids run to their rooms to find the perfect bedtime book while my hubby and I play a quick match of "Rock, Paper, Scissors," knowing the loser is going to be stuck reading the same book...again.
While I enjoy the cuddles and time spent with my children before they sleep, the worse I find the book to be, the longer it takes to read. Time just stops. The experience is grating, I am grumpy, and, "No, we cannot read it again!" Reading with our children needs to be enjoyable, not just an obligation.
In hopes of improving the quality and tolerability of our nightly story times, I have found certain children's book authors that I can trust will be entertaining, provide a lesson or moral, provide enjoyable wordplay, and have some great illustrations to boot. Furthermore, these authors have several hit singles, so they will each provide you with weeks of wonderful nighttime read-a-longs. In no particular
Jon Scieszka, author of "The True Story of the Three Little Pigs," "The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales," and "The Frog Prince, Continued." Scieszka takes fairytale stories we all know and really twists them! He shows that not all story endings have to be saccharinely sweet.
David Shannon, author of “No, David!," "A Bad Case of Stripes," "Alice the Fairy," and "How I Became a Pirate." My four favorite Shannon books show how clever and versatile he is in his writing: Without many words, "No, David!" explains to a child how a parent can be driven crazy by, but always love her child. "A Bad Case of Stripes" tells how it is okay to beat to your own drum regardless of what others think. "Alice the Fairy" perfectly shows the world through the mind of a child obsessed with fairies. And "How I Became a Pirate" allows the parent to demonstrate their best pirate accent and shout things like, "Shiver me timbers!"
Victoria Kann, author of "Pinkalicious," "Purplicious," and
"Silverlicious". My six-year-old relates to Pinkalicious so much that
whenever we read "Purplicious" and the character cries because the
school girls made fun of her for loving the color pink, she empathetically bursts out, "But she's not alone! I love pink, too!" And that's why we will read that book until the pages fall out.
David Soman and Jacky Davis, authors of the "Ladybug Girl" series. The "Ladybug Girl" is just a normal kid. She doesn't have grandiose ideas about who she is; she's just exploring and having fun. Love that.
Chris Van Allsburg, author of "The Polar Express" and "Just a
Dream." Van Allsburg's world is magical, and so are his illustrations. My kids aren't quite old enough to appreciate most of his books, but we read them anyway.
Ian Falconer, author of "Olivia" and "Olivia helps with Christmas." Every time she moves her cat, I crack up. I love that pig. I also think she has a kindred spirit in my household.
Dr. Seuss, author of "If I Ran the Zoo" and "The Sneetches and Other
Stories." I love Dr. Seuss for his alliteration, word play, and rhymes.
While the stories are a bit lengthy, the faster you read the more fun it
sounds. "The Sneetches" is one of my favorites because it demonstrates the absurdity of people who try not to be outdone by one another in a way that children can understand.
Kevin Henkes, author of "Lilly's Big Day," "Wemberly Worried,"
"Owen," "Julius, Baby of the World," and "Chrysanthemum." Henkes channels his inner child and perfectly conveys the emotions that a five-year-old may feel and have difficulty expressing or understanding. Plus, they're just darn cute mice!
Mo Willems, author of "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!," "Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale," and "Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity." The pigeon books are bizarre and comical, and easy to enjoy, especially if you have a flair for doing all the voices during story time. And the "Knuffle Bunny" series just pulls at my heartstrings because I have two little girls with their own "knuffle bunnies". (Mine, tattered and old, is safely stored in an attic box.)
Audrey Wood, author of "The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear," "The Napping House," and "Heckedy Peg." I first fell in love with Don Wood's illustrations; they're rich and warm and beautiful. While reading "The Napping House," my girls and I always point out two things: find the flea in each illustration, and notice how the viewer’s vantage point shifts on each page.
Help your kids with their book selections at the library, and check out some good stories you can look forward to reading. By taking some time to seek out children's book authors that you have come to love, you will enhance story time for your children and yourself. And that's a happy ending!