“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”
– Jorge Luis Borges
Christmas is in a few short weeks, and if you’re anything like me…you’re starting to gather various gift ideas. Luckily, there is always one constant on my holiday shopping list – books for our daughter. You can never go wrong with gifting a book! We give our daughter at least one book every Christmas…along with a special holiday story that Santa always sends through the mail. This year, Santa will be dropping this adorable 12 Little Elves Visit Colorado book into our mailbox.
Our little nugget has loved reading stories since the day she was born, and she’s accumulated quite a few favorites over the years. By favorites, I mean those stories that are read several times a day…for days (or even months) on end. You know the ones! We’ve actually been sharing her yearly list of favorites since the very start of this blog. And with the holidays quickly approaching, we figured it was a great time to share a new list – Our Favorite Books (The Fifth Year)! I’m sure you’ll spy a few stories that your kiddos also adore…and perhaps you’ll find a few that would make wonderful gifts this holiday season.
Our Favorite Books (4-5 Years)
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- Poppy Pickle by Emma Yarlett
- Poppy Pickle has a BIG imagination. Upon being sent to clean her room, she starts imagining all sorts of amazing things…and then something magical happens…everything that she has imagined comes to life! It’s all fun and games until a woolly mammoth puts his foot through the floor (creating a giant crack in the dining room ceiling). It’s then that her parents come knocking at her door. Will Poppy figure out a way to get rid of all of the creatures roaming around her bedroom? She will need to think of something fast!
- There’s a Shark in the Bath by Sarah McIntyre
- Dulcie enters the bathroom to find last night’s bath water still sitting in the tub…and as she steps closer, she spies something else…a big fin! THERE’S A SHARK IN THE BATH! But it’s not just one shark…there’s a Papa Shark, a Mama Shark, and a Baby Shark…and they are all hankering for a hearty breakfast. Eeeek! Dulcie cleverly discovers numerous ways to outwit the sharks, by asking them to participate in some super fun bathroom games. The games keep her from getting chomped by three sets of incredibly sharp teeth, but they also create a gigantic mess. Will the four of them find themselves in big trouble when Dulcie’s dad turns the doorknob and steps into the bathroom?
- Truck Full of Ducks by Ross Burach
- Did you call for a truck full of ducks?!? The duck truck heads out for a big delivery, but they quickly run into trouble, when one of the ducks eats the directions. The delivery driver has no other choice but to roam aimlessly around town, asking everyone if they ordered a truck full of ducks. They encounter lots of different people and creatures along the way – including a salty old pirate who ordered a truck full of crackers…not quackers (to feed his hungry parrots). Will they ever find their intended destination? And what will fate have in store for them if they do?
- Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins
- Bruce is a grumpy bear who likes to eat boiled eggs for breakfast. But one morning his breakfast hatches…and four goslings emerge…and determine that Bruce is their mother. Bruce is not pleased. And try as he might…he cannot get the geese to leave. What’s a grumpy bear to do? Mother Bruce is the very first story in a silly series, that follows Bruce, and his four geese, on various adventures. Our little nugget cannot get enough of this growling curmudgeon. We’ve also thoroughly enjoyed Hotel Bruce and Bruce’s Big Move. And we are looking forward to reading Santa Bruce this holiday season!
- Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein
- If you want a book that is sure to have your child erupting in a fit of laughter…this is it! Our little nugget giggles uncontrollably every single time we read this amusing story, about a little red chicken who cannot stop herself from interrupting all of her father’s bedtime stories. The second installment, Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise, is also a fun read!
- We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins
- Yet another spectacular story from award-winning author, Ryan T. Higgins. It’s Penelope Rex’s first day of school and she’s nervous, but eager to meet her new classmates. That is, until she discovers that all of her classmates are human children. The problem? It’s extremely hard to make friends with creatures who are incredibly delicious. But one day, Penelope unexpectedly discovers what it feels like to be gobbled up…and her entire perspective changes. This hilarious story is a fun read year-round…but it was also the perfect book to read while our little nugget was preparing for her first days of kindergarten.
- The Three Little Superpigs by Claire Evans
- The three little pigs that we all know and love have transformed into superheros! After defeating the Big Bad Wolf, the Superpigs spend the majority of their time fighting crime in Fairyland, and enjoying the rewards of their newfound fame. But fear overtakes this fairytale kingdom, when the residents hear of the Big Bad Wolf’s escape from prison. It’s up to the Three Little Superpigs to save the day once again…but will they be able to escape from the Big Bad Wolf’s wicked trap?
- Tony Baroni Loves Macaroni by Marilyn Sadler
- “No, Nonna, please! Just macaroni and cheese!” Children everywhere will be able to identify with Tony Baroni…who eats nothing but macaroni. But will his taste buds change over time?
- What the Ladybird Heard by Julia Donaldson
- One sunny day, the ladybird overhears Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len devising a plan to steal the farmer’s fine prize cow. Knowing that she has to put a stop to it, she asks the other farm animals to help her thwart the two crooks. And with the ingenious use of numerous barnyard noises, their efforts are successful! Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len make another appearance in Julia Donaldson’s second installment – What the Ladybug Heard Next.
- Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall
- Red has a bright red label…but underneath the label…he’s actually blue. Red is confused and frustrated…why can’t he just write in red, like he’s supposed to? Everyone has a different idea to help red be red…but nothing works. Red is miserable. But then one day, a new friend arrives and helps red discover his true identity – he’s blue! This charming and colorful story implores us all to find the courage to be our true selves.
- Ballet Dreams by Cerrie Burnell
- Once there was a a little girl who dreamed of dancing…of skipping over rooftops and pirouetting round the moon. They called her Little Bird. And one day, after her grandfather introduced her to the ballet of Swan Lake, she decided that she was destined to be a ballerina.
- The Good Egg by Jory John
- You can never go wrong with a book written by Jory John! And this heartwarming tale reminds us of the importance of self-care…and how to accept those that we love (exactly as they are). The good egg has always been good – but the rest of the eggs in his carton are all pretty rotten. The good egg tries to make up for their bad behavior…tries to cleanup their messes and fix their mistakes. But when the mounting pressure for perfection starts causing the good egg’s shell to crack, he decides it’s high time to make a change in his life. This book also pairs perfectly with The Bad Seed…which made it onto our list of favorites last year!
- The Not So Quiet Library by Zachariah OHora
- It’s Saturday…which means Oskar and Theodore get donuts for breakfast…and their weekly trip to the library. They love sitting quietly, as they find themselves getting lost in the pages of a book. But on this particular Saturday, their quiet reading time is rudely interrupted by a giant, five-headed monster! Will Oskar and Teddy get to enjoy their donuts and stories in peace? Or will they become someone else’s breakfast?
- Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late by Mo Willems
- I’m fairly confident that any Mo Willems book will produce fits of giggles, and the Don’t Let the Pigeon… series of books are some of our all-time favorites! In this particular installment, it’s our duty (as the reader) to make sure that the pigeon gets to sleep on time. The only problem is that the pigeon is absolutely certain that he’s not tired…and he has no intention of going to bed. Your kiddos are bound to laugh as the stubborn pigeon tries every trick in the book. And you’re bound to smile as you recognize your own child’s bedtime misadventures highlighted on each and every page.
- An Elephant & Piggie Biggie! by Mo Willems
- While we adore Mo Willems pigeon…we don’t dare leave out Elephant & Piggie! This dynamic duo is near and dear to our hearts…and every one of their adventures brings a smile to our little nugget’s face. There are a few different Elephant & Piggie Biggie books, but our favorite includes the following stories: Today I Will Fly!; Watch Me Throw the Ball!; Can I Play Too?; Let’s Go For a Drive!; and I Really Like Slop!
- She’s Got This by Laurie Hernandez
- This inspiring story, by Olympic gymnast, Laurie Hernandez, highlights the importance of perseverance and believing in yourself. Zoe dreams of becoming a gymnast…she dreams of flying through the air. But when she falls from the balance beam at her very first gymnastics class, she realizes that dreams can be hard and scary…and she’s ready to give up. That’s when her family steps in to help her learn that no matter how many times we fail…we always have to get back up and try again.
- Rock What Ya Got by Samantha Berger
- This is yet another inspiring story that reminds us of the importance of staying true to ourselves. In this colorful and vibrant tale, an artist picks up a pencil and draws a girl, named Viva. When she’s finished, she decides that something is missing from the drawing…but just as she reaches for her eraser…Viva comes to life and pushes the eraser away. “Excuse me, lady, artist, ma’am, but I like me the way I am. Before you change one line or dot, can I try…to rock what I got?”
- I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy
- I love Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. She is an incredibly smart, strong, and inspiring woman – one who has achieved many great things in her life…and she’s not even done yet! She’s someone that I look up to…a true role model. And she’s someone that I want my little girl to admire. I love surrounding our daughter with examples of brave and bold women…women who wouldn’t take no for an answer…women who achieved their dreams and made a difference in this world. And this beautifully-written book is the perfect addition to our little nugget’s library! This story illustrates the highlights of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s life…and her continual fight to call out inequality, and to always stand up for what’s right.
*Note: Several of the following books are classics that belonged to my husband when he was a child, and that my mother-in-law has since gifted to our daughter.*
- Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile by Bernard Waber
- Lyle the crocodile lives with the Primm family on East 88th Street, in New York City. He loves playing with the neighborhood children, but one of the neighbors is not a fan of Lyle. Mr. Grumps, and his cat, Loretta, think that Lyle belongs in a zoo. And after several less-than-stellar run-ins, Mr. Grumps makes good on his promise to have Lyle locked in a cage. Lyle is lonely and distraught…and he misses his family on East 88th. But rest assured…he will find his way back home…in the most heroic way. (originally published in 1965)
- Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
- I must admit that I’m not a huge fan of this beloved tale…but our daughter adores it, so we read it often. She loves the idea of food raining down from the sky, and her favorite part is when the giant pancake lands on top of the school. It’s certainly fun to imagine living in the tiny town of Chewandswallow…at least up until the time that everything started to go awry. (originally published in 1978)
- Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban
- It’s bedtime for Frances…but before she can fall asleep, she needs a glass of milk, a kiss from her mom and dad, her teddy bear, her doll, and more kisses from mom and dad. The list is endless. Frances emerges from her room on several occasions…sometimes to state a need…and sometimes to share a worry, fear, or concern. She even ventures out to find her parents after they, themselves, are already in bed. Will Frances ever get to sleep? (originally published in 1960)
- Norman the Doorman by Don Freeman
- Norman is a mouse…but he also happens to be a doorman. He proudly works the tiny door leading to the basement exhibits (i.e. storage) in the Majestic Museum of Art. Norman is enchanted by the world of art. And when he spies a flier for a sculpture contest at the museum, he decides to enter his very own work (made from the wire of a mousetrap). Do you think Norman will win first prize? (originally published in 1959)
- Doctor De Soto by William Steig
- Doctor De Soto is an accomplished dentist, who assists animals (large and small), with toothaches and other dental needs. But being a mouse…he and his wife steer clear of any patients who have an overwhelming desire to eat them. That is, until the day that a miserable fox shows up on their doorstep, begging for relief from the sharp pain in his tooth. They bravely invite the fox inside, and kindly fix his tooth. But how can they be sure that the fox won’t gobble them up for dinner, once all is said and done? Will the De Sotos be able to outfox the fox? (originally published in 1982)
- Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
- As a kid, I always enjoyed reading through the silly poems in Where the Sidewalk Ends (and A Light in the Attic). And this past year…our little nugget has consistently pulled this book from the shelf. She likes for us to fan through the pages, until she says “stop,” and then we read whatever page we land on. Some of her favorite poems are: Crocodile’s Toothache; Farmer and the Queen; Hungry Mungry; Pirate Captain Jim; Sick; Warning; and Yipiyuk. (originally published in 1974)
- The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
- One of our daughter’s pre-k teachers started reading this chapter book during quiet time at school…and our little nugget became completely enthralled. I love a good Beverly Cleary book, so I snagged a copy from the library…so that we could enjoy reading it at home too! Ralph is a very curious and adventurous mouse, and when a little boy gifts him a little red motorcycle, Ralph’s life is changed forever. There are two other books in this series: Runaway Ralph, and Ralph S. Mouse. (originally published in 1965)
*Note: The following two books were published in 2018…but they are two of our daughter’s favorite chapter books.*
- Wild Fairies: Lily’s Water Woes by Brandi Dougherty
- Lily feels left out. While all of her fairy friends flutter off to visit beautiful beaches and forests…and enjoy game nights inside the walls of Sugar Oak…Lily is stuck at home. She’s a fairy, but she’s also a mermaid…which means that she is unable to be away from her pond for too long. The other fairies notice Lily’s unhappiness, and they spring into action – creating a big surprise that will help Lily travel beyond the pond!
- Wild Fairies: Daisy’s Decorating Dilemma by Brandi Dougherty
- All of our favorite fairies (from Lily’s Water Woes) are present in this installment too – but this particular story follows Daisy, as she attempts to plan and execute the best Blossom Bash that the forest has ever seen. Blossom Bash is a Spring celebration – the biggest party of the year – and the fairies are hosting. Daisy normally enjoys organizing events, but when every fairy has a different idea for decorations…and thunderstorms threaten to ruin the event…Daisy finds herself feeling glum. Will she find a way to make everyone happy? Will this year’s Blossom Bash be the best one yet?!?
Books make the perfect gift for any child. In a single story, children can find inspiration, knowledge, adventure, laughter, empathy…or even a friend. And if you need a few more ideas, don’t forget to check out all of our favorites from years past:
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