Judging a book by its cover

Reading is one of the great joys of life. Instilling a love of reading in kids is one of the great joys of parenthood. But to love reading, you have to love books. And to fall in love, it only takes one great book. You will hear some great books during storytimes at neighborhood libraries and book stores. (See pages 96 and 102.) But we thought we would add our two cents and give you some of our favorite kid books, across the ages.

Babies and toddlers. You just can’t beat Margaret Wise Brown’s sweet and soothing Goodnight Moon. Get the board book but expect to go through a copy or two. You’ll build a memory trying to find the mouse together. You’ll want to keep this one on the shelf long after the children have grown too big for your lap.

For preschoolers. We weren’t able to come up with one favorite here. There are so many terrific choices, from Eric Carle’s beautiful The Very Hungry Caterpillar, to Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, to the fun and funny If You Give a Pig a Pancake and If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Numeroff.

For beginning readers. The cuddly Mudge, the loveable mutt featured in the Henry and Mudge series by Cynthia Rylant, is always good for a smile, as is Tacky the Penguin, star of Helen Lester’s charming series. And can anyone really be a reader if you haven’t read Dr. Seuss? Theodor Geisel wrote wonderful beginner books, such as Green Eggs and Ham and Hop on Pop or One Fish, Two Fish. These books never get old. Martha Calling and Martha Speaks by Susan Meddaugh are delightful books for the age 4-8 set about Martha the dog, who eats alphabet soup and can talk. And don’t forget about Peggy Parish’s Amelia Bedelia stories.

The intermediate wordsmiths. Here, we offer some of our favorite authors, such as Jerry Spinelli, Judy Blume, Roald Dahl, Anne M. Martin and Beverly Cleary.

For accomplished readers. There’s no beating the Harry Potter series for keeping readers engaged. We were lucky enough to have kids grow up with the books and mature as the series grew darker. But there is also our favorite local author, Blue Balliett, who has written Chasing Vermeer and her newest, The Wright 3. It’s great to read these books and then walk around the Hyde Park neighborhood where they are set.

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