Opinion | Kids’ books recommendations span the culture war divide

Return to menu

The 20th-Century Children’s Book Treasury: Picture Books and Stories to Read Aloud,” edited by Janet Schulman

For any parent on a tight budget, this is the book that will last for hours. — Bethany S. Mandel, editor of the Heroes of Liberty series

Follow Alyssa Rosenberg‘s opinionsFollow

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” by Judith Viorst; illustrated by Ray Cruz

Kids’ books don’t have to be sugarplums and sunshine. This story takes us through the experience of a typical, difficult day in the life of a kid. We can all relate to its details and humor. And although it’s a terrible day, we feel better in the end, connected by the knowledge that we’re not alone. — Lisa Loeb, singer, songwriter and actress

All the World,” by Liz Garton Scanlon; illustrated by Marla Frazee

I’ve read this book 100 times or more to my kids, and every time, I find new meaning in it. — Leana S. Wen, Post Opinions columnist

The Ana & Andrew series, by Christine Platt; illustrated by Sharon Sordo

Platt’s wonderful series also does serious work: introducing important moments in Black history in a fun, accessible way. — Hannah Grieco, editor of “And If That Mockingbird Don’t Sing: Parenting Stories Gone Speculative

A Bargain for Frances,” by Russell Hoban; illustrated by Lillian Hoban

Frances the Badger is one of the funniest fictional children ever invented, never more so than when she’s running a counter-scam on her friend Thelma. — Alyssa Rosenberg

The Bear That Wasn’t,” by Frank Tashlin

A hilarious, absurd, pro-labor, pro-environment fable — intricately drawn by a Looney Tunes cartoonist — that satirizes the self-importance of stuffed-shirt capitalists while lamenting the destruction they blindly leave behind. — Anya Kamenetz, author of “The Stolen Year: How COVID Changed Children’s Lives, and Where We Go Now

Bee-Bim Bop!” by Linda Sue Park; illustrated by Ho Baek Lee

A delightful, grounded story about a girl who helps her mother make the classic Korean dish. Her excitement about shopping for groceries, cooking with her mom and serving up the meal to the entire family is a rhythmic delight. — Michael Thompson, co-author of “Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys

The Big Alfie and Annie Rose Storybook,” by Shirley Hughes

At a moment of anxiety about boys and boyhood, Alfie’s kindness and courage are a delight, and a balm. — Alyssa Rosenberg

The Book With No Pictures,” by B.J. Novak

Who knew that a book without pictures could be so much fun to read? — Nana Efua Mumford, manager of editorial talent and logistics, Post Opinions

Cars and Trucks and Things That Go,” by Richard Scarry

There are always new things to point out and to learn. It’s perfect for letting the imagination go wild. — Leana S. Wen

A Chair for My Mother,” by Vera B. Williams

When a single mother and her daughter lose their apartment and all their belongings in a fire, family and friends share what they have without hesitation. To replace their comfortable chair, however, the mother, a hard-working waitress, must slowly save the coins from her tips. — David Von Drehle, Post Opinions columnist

The Day the Crayons Quit,” by Drew Daywalt; illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

The illustrations make you want to color — and to anthropomorphize everything in your life. The story lends itself to making up different voices for each crayon’s tale-telling. — Lisa Loeb

Du Iz Tak?” by Carson Ellis

Pure joy, with wildly imaginative yet accessible illustrations that reward both the detail-obsessed observer and the child with limited vision who might see the vivid pages in their broadest outlines. — Rachael Brown, a partner at TNTP, a national education nonprofit

Frog and Toad Are Friends,” by Arnold Lobel

My mother is a retired elementary school librarian, and this is her go-to recommendation for beautiful stories crafted with limited and simple vocabulary. — Mary Katharine Ham, host of the podcast “Getting Hammered”

Go, Dog. Go!” by P.D. Eastman

This book turns a limited set of words into a fantasia of brightly colored dogs running through mazes, suffering car accidents, drinking cold drinks in the shade, playing baseball and insulting each other’s hats. — Amanda Katz, assignment editor, Post Opinions

Good Night, Gorilla,” by Peggy Rathmann

You can set your own pace, either breezing through if you just can’t handle one more minute of the bedtime routine, or reveling in the pictures and dreaming up longer, more complex stories about the zoo animals’ great escape. — Helena Andrews-Dyer, author of “The Mamas: What I Learned About Kids, Class, and Race From Moms Not Like Me

Goodnight Moon,” by Margaret Wise Brown; illustrated by Clement Hurd

It’s soothing, which helps a young child sleep. It helps them confront fears of the night in a pleasant, non-threatening way. Henry Olsen, Post Opinions columnist

Harold and the Purple Crayon,” by Crockett Johnson

This book feels like a low-key inspiration for Christopher Nolan’s “Inception”: It’s about a boy who drifts off to sleep and in his dreams uses his purple crayon to reshape reality, building huge cities and getting lost within them. — Sonny Bunch, Post Opinions contributing columnist

Hattie Peck,” by Emma Levey

Motherhood doesn’t come easy to Hattie, so she adopts animals from all different species. Simple and quick to read, the book holds little ones’ attention while sharing an important message about parenthood. — Susie Allison, creator of Busy Toddler and author of “Playing Preschool

The Hello, Goodbye Window,” by Norton Juster; illustrated by Chris Raschka

No book captures the joy and excitement of time away from home, or the relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren, quite like this one. — Susie Allison

The House in the Night,” by Susan Marie Swanson; illustrated by Beth Krommes

Krommes won a Caldecott Medal for her intricate, high-contrast scratchboard illustrations of a child readying for bed and picking up a book “all about the starry dark.” There’s a literal “key” to the titular house, but it’s an exquisite metaphor, too, for the song and the love that make “a home full of light.” — Jen Balderama, associate editor, Post Opinions

I Want My Hat Back,” by Jon Klassen

If You Come to Earth,” by Sophie Blackall

This beautifully illustrated, meditative read alludes, lightly, to some of the travails of life on Earth — such as losing one’s home in a war or escaping a flood — while reminding us what brings us together. — Anya Kamenetz

In the Night Kitchen,” by Maurice Sendak

As a psychologist, I have always loved the dreamlike, fantastical quality of “In the Night Kitchen.” Kids love it, too, because it is a story of a boy triumphing over the ridiculous, threatening adults who try to cook him in their cake. — Michael Thompson

It’s Mine!” by Leo Lionni

This tale of three arguing frogs is a great book to read to siblings and might spark a few conversations to help with their family battles. — Susie Allison

Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion,” by Mo Willems

I love the mix of photography and illustration. And the theme of letting go — for adults and kids — resonates, transcending age and circumstance. — Sofia Chang, chief executive, Girl Scouts of the USA

Little Blue and Little Yellow,” by Leo Lionni

The abstract shapes and solid backgrounds of this book’s illustrations made it an early favorite for our son, who has cortical visual impairment, a neurological condition in which the brain struggles to process complex visual information. — Rachael Brown

Mae Among the Stars,” by Roda Ahmed; illustrated by Stasia Burrington

This book’s lesson about believing in yourself, even when adults and children laugh at your aspirations, is a great one. — Stacia L. Brown, author and podcaster

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel,” by Virginia Lee Burton

Having kids and finding books to read to them has been a delight for the subversive part of my brain that loves rejiggering the messages in perverse ways. “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel” is less about finding ways to remain useful in an evolving world and more a work of Cronenbergian body horror that ends with a sentient steam shovel chained to a building, bound like Prometheus to eternal employment/torment. — Sonny Bunch

Milo Imagines the World,” by Matt de la Peña; illustrated by Christian Robinson

On his subway ride to visit his mother, Milo looks at the people on the train and draws what he thinks their lives are like. But he ends up redrawing his pictures, this time relying on imagination instead of easy-to-reach-for stereotypes. — Amber Noelle Sparks, author of “And I Do Not Forgive You: Stories and Other Revenges

Miss Rumphius,” by Barbara Cooney

We can see the many people whose lives are shaped by the Lupine Lady, all because she committed to “do something to make the world more beautiful.” It’s a gift to be refreshed by the beauty of the illustrations and to get to keep reminding myself and my daughter of this charge. — Leah Libresco Sargeant, author of “Arriving at Amen: Seven Catholic Prayers That Even I Can Offer” and “Building the Benedict Option: A Guide to Gathering Two or Three Together in His Name

My Friends,” by Taro Gomi

A young girl encounters many unlikely sources of knowledge in the natural and human world around her. “I learned to nap from my friend the crocodile” is my son’s favorite line. — Rachael Brown

Nutshell Library,” by Maurice Sendak

Kids feel small, and they like small things. This tiny, classic set in its own little slipcase includes a delightful alphabet book; a counting book with a plot of sorts; a savory book of months; and, best of all, a teeny moral tale involving a child so apathetic he gets eaten by a polite but hungry lion. — Amanda Katz

Oh, Were They Ever Happy!” by Peter Spier

Every Spier book is a prize, especially this mischievous chronicle of a trio of helpful siblings and their adventures after a babysitter fails to show. — Alyssa Rosenberg

Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm,” by Alice Provensen and Martin Provensen

Lively, unforgettable sketches of animals including Old Eleven, a wise sheep; and Evil Murdoch, a gander. — Alyssa Rosenberg

Outside Over There,” by Maurice Sendak

Sendak at his best: unsentimental, prankish, funny and full of the absolute strangeness of childhood. — Amber Noelle Sparks

The Runaway Bunny,” by Margaret Wise Brown; illustrated by Clement Hurd

My 2-year-old has an independent spirit and is the runaway bunny; I’m the mommy bunny who will follow her to the end of the earth. — Leana S. Wen

A Sick Day for Amos McGee,” by Philip C. Stead; illustrated by Erin Stead

In an era of influencers and self-branding, this book is a delightful reminder about the importance of quiet service to others, and the genuine friendships and returned kindness it can generate. — Sonny Bunch and his wife, Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

The Snowy Day,” by Ezra Jack Keats

This was the first kids’ book I can remember reading with a Black main character. But it is very much about how the world around us, no matter where you live, can be magical with even the tiniest shift of perspective. And it’s never too early to teach White kids that Black kids are kids, too. — Marc Bernardin, podcaster and writer of comics and graphic novels, including “Adora and the Distance

Too Sticky!: Sensory Issues with Autism,” by Jen Malia

Such a loving, accessible story about understanding sensory needs in children. I wish “Too Sticky” had been around when my autistic child was younger. I cried the first time I read it! — Hannah Grieco

Triangle,” by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

I don’t want to spoil the ending, but the last line is the best cliffhanger ever! — Nana Efua Mumford

What Pete Ate from A-Z,” by Maira Kalman

This list of an innocent-looking dog’s incredible ingestion (beginning with “He ate cousin Rocky’s accordion. All of it.”) has verbal treats on every page — Kate Cohen, Post Opinions contributing columnist

The Whispering Rabbit,” by Margaret Wise Brown; illustrated by Annie Won

Forget “Goodnight Moon” and “The Runaway Bunny”; this is the Margaret Wise Brown book I’ve happily read hundreds of times. A sleepy rabbit opens his mouth to yawn and accidentally swallows … a bee! To expel it, he must emit the quietest possible sound — quieter than snow melting, a fly sneezing, a flower growing. Written in sleep-inducing cadences. — Jen Balderama

Laisser un commentaire