1. Space Case by Edward Marshall
This is by far my favorite children’s book and I hope every night my kids want to read it. And even when they don’t, I do everything in my power to lobby for it. Anyways, I love it because it’s first of all hilarious- even though it is an older book (written in the 80s) it has an ageless humor. So many tiny little comedic nuggets of gold nestled throughout. Secondly, because it was written in the 80s, whether intentional or not, it has this timeless feel to it that brings me back to growing up and it’s very nostalgic. I feel like a kid again reading this book. Highly recommend!
2. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
This is a classic. I remember this book as a child and when I read it for the first time to my kids it was a like a time machine that took me back to my childhood. It’s an imaginative masterpiece that also has little morsels of comedy throughout. Most of all, visually, the pictures absolutely steal the show for me. I feel like each page is its own piece of artwork. I believe this so much, that for my oldest son’s second Christmas, I gifted him an original drawing from the book because of how much we loved reading it together.
3. Randy Riley’s Big Hit by Chris Van Dusen
If you haven’t read any of the Chris Van Dusen books you are surely missing out. This guy is a modern-day Dr. Seuss – may not be as imaginative but he knows how to rhyme. And Ive read plenty of children’s books where authors force rhymes just to rhyme. Van Dusen is elegant in his flow (like Seuss) and I feel like I’m almost rapping the story – which is cool and fun. Aside from that, the stories are cute and again (you might be picking up on a theme here) I love the era in which he places his stories: the 1960s. I feel like I’m reading brighter and rhymier episodes of the wonder years. Anyways, I highly recommend ALL Chris Van Dusen books, but my favorite is Randy Riley, the first we got of his collection.
4. One by Kathryn Otoshi
This was gifted to our family by our sister who said it was the cutest book, so much so it made her tear up. And I have to say the first read will make you feel the emotions. Unlike the other books in my top 5 list, this book does not blow you away with the artwork. But it certainly makes up for that in the storyline which is creative and delivers a powerful message of sticking up for yourself and power in numbers. I always appreciate books that deliver a solid message to kids and if they can do so in a unique and fun way, that’s a win every time.
5. Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin
This book is as wacky as the title suggests. I mean what’s not to love about a book centered around dragons and tacos? It’s funny and all over the place which my inner teenager self is all about. That’s the thing about this book, it reaches a wide audience of ages and hobbyists: toddlers, teenagers, adults, potheads, taco loves, LARPers. But in the end, it’s very original and cute as the story walks you through the roller coaster of why dragons love tacos but HATE spicy salsa. And if you think that the book is really out there, just try out the sequel to have your mind blown.
Bonus: Maybe an unpopular opinion but I don’t care for any of the Curious George books. Maybe this is more a ding on the generation before us’ style but the Curious George’s books are long, over the place, and sort of unintentional. I feel like the stories have no purpose. And I get it, not all stories need to have a templated structure or conclude with a lesson learned because sometimes stories are just the recounting of certain events that happen (exciting or not). But still, for a children’s book, I’ve found my kids lose attention about as quickly as I do. No thanks.