One of the many useful things I learned on Twitter today is that it’s Family Literacy Day. (Apparently it’s also National Chocolate Cake Day, but I didn’t really have a chance to celebrate that one.)
To say we like books is an understatement. We have nine bookshelves of various size and shape in our house, and most of them are full. We have one bookshelf just for library books. Not just one shelf—the entire unit. We go through a LOT of books.
We have a lot of kids’ books, for obvious reasons. But I like reading kids’ books too. I have fond memories of reading Roald Dahl and Judy Blume, Encyclopedia Brown and the Hardy Boys. I discovered Gordon Korman when I was 10; his books were hilarious, and he wrote his first one when he was something like 12 years old. I decided I wanted to be a writer too, and it’s a dream I’ve never really relinquished.
So in honour of Family Literacy Day, here are some of our favourite authors and books for kids. These are geared to our own family’s ages and stages right now, but another time I’ll share books for older kids I also enjoy.
We love just about everything by Bob Graham, who writes warm, funny picture books with great characters who look and act like real people—even if they’re superheroes or urban chicken rescuers. He’ll feature interracial families or low-income couples from sketchy neighbourhoods, but his stories are never preachy or “message-y”, just very natural.
Barbara Reid is a national treasure. Her Plasticine illustrations are amazing, but she’s also a great storyteller. The Party is one of my all-time favourite books, one of those few that I don’t mind reading over and over again. The same goes for another local great, Sheree Fitch.
David Shannon is also very funny and very relatable… his characters are a lot like our boys. All of our kids have loved his David books, and Shawna and I are both big fans of Too Many Toys. Because it is extremely true.
We enjoy plenty of the classics, like Goodnight Moon, Where the Wild Things Are, books by Jan Brett and Janet and Allan Ahlberg, and of course Dr. Seuss. But I also have to put in a plug for Shauntay Grant, a tremendously talented Nova Scotian poet and spoken word artist who has written a couple of excellent kids’ books.
Early Reader Books
Xander devours series books right now. He’s read most of the Magic Tree House and Geronimo Stilton books. He found an action series called Jack Stalwart that he really likes, and he’s into the new “modern” versions of my own childhood staples, Encyclopedia Brown and the Hardy Boys.
Another series we’ve discovered is Flat Stanley. Stanley is squished in the middle of the night by a bulletin board and wakes up as thin as a pancake, which lets him go on all sorts of adventures. I like the absurd humour and enjoy reading these with the boys.
We also enjoy the Cardboard Genius series, about a kid who can invent just about anything out of household items. It’s right up Xander’s alley—I’m a little surprised he hasn’t tried to build his own spaceship yet. And we’re just getting into the Martin Bridge books by Jessica Scott Kerrin, who happens to be a colleague of mine. They’re funny and very true-to-life without sounding preachy.
There are plenty of others I could mention—I could talk about books all day. But those are a few of our favourites. Happy reading!