Before I was a parent, I envisioned plenty of things that never panned out. Leisurely sipping coffee in a restaurant with an adorably-dressed, well-behaved infant hasn't happened yet, but I'll keep you posted. One thing that has worked out has been many hours of sharing favorite stories together, cuddled up under blankets and giggling through the pages.
Reading with Charlie will always be a special activity for me. I have fuzzy, warm memories of sitting next to my mom—an excellent out-loud reader—and sinking deep into a story. I can honestly say I loved it better than watching my favorite movies, and those hours built the foundation for my own love of books, reading, and writing.
I hope I can build that foundation for Charlie and our future kids. I've made a pact with myself that I'll never say no when Charlie brings me a book (within reason)—although it can be a labor of love when she asks to read Elmo's Play Day for the tenth time in a morning. There are plenty of books we both love, though, and I thought I'd share our current favorites.
1. Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion
Harry is a white dog with black spots who likes everything except... getting a bath. So begins the classic that Charlie is currently requesting every night before bed. We have the board book 50th-anniversary edition, which is fantastic for the toddler age. Charlie can giggle and point at the kitties playing in the street or the flop-flipping that Harry does without damaging any pages. This book is engaging, lyrical, and fun to read. Make sure you throw in a few impressions of Harry singing to get the full effect.
2. Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
This book feels like a long, sweet sigh at the end of the day. It's lesser known than Goodnight, Moon, but can I admit I don't love Goodnight, Moon? (Is that even allowed?) With soft rhyme and her signature sparse rhythm, Margaret Wise Brown tells a simple story of a day in the life of some farm animals. Charlie loves the field mice, the cow, and the dogs and cats. I love the poetic structure and the lovely illustrations. Win-win.
3. The Nice Book by David Ezra Stein
True to its name, this book is just so nice. It's also a ticket to a few free sleepy-head cuddles while you read along: "Cuddle, nestle, nuzzle, don't tickle! (Well, maybe a little)." It's also a creative way to put some synonyms and actions along with that ubiquitous, all-purpose parenting word "NICE." Who knows, maybe it'll translate into a nestle instead of a scowl next time I tell Charlie to "be nice!"
4. The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood
I'll admit, Charlie doesn't love this book—although she humors me and listens to it every once in a while. I, however, love how creative this book is ("There are many kinds of quiet... Jelly-side down quiet... Bedtime kiss quiet..."). I'm also a fan of the muted colors and sweet illustrations; they are in perfect harmony with the words. And knowing my kiddo, it could be her favorite next week—you never know.
Now grab a book, cuddle your kiddo, and get reading.