Children’s Book Recommendations

Leaf Man Review

Leaf Man

Lois Ehlert’s books are exquisitely unique. Her artwork embraces techniques beyond that of a traditional paint and brush. She was awarded a Caldecott Honor for Color Zoo, showing that the simplest of shapes can make for the most delightful creatures. Paging through any of her books is a pleasure, as there are always new details…

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The Dot Review


The Dot, written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds, dives into a subject everyone can relate to—thinking we can’t do something. For Vashti, it’s art. The opening page beautifully demonstrates her level of despair—her back is to her blank piece of paper and she bears a most unpleasant expression on her face. Her teacher encourages her…

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Giraffes Can’t Dance Review


When children enjoy a particular book, it’s definitely worth investigating other works by the same author. Such was the case with Giles Andreae, as a favorite of my children’s is Rumble in the Jungle. At the doctor’s office, we immediately dove into Andreae’s Giraffes Can’t Dance, illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees. The cover sums up what you…

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Me…Jane Review


Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell is a whimsical biography of Jane Goodall, animal welfare and conservationist extraordinaire, as a little girl. The story opens as she is being handed her stuffed toy chimpanzee, Jubilee. She spends her days taking Jubilee on adventures all around her house as they explore the everyday creatures and plants she finds.…

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Bear Has a Story to Tell Review

Bear Has a Story to Tell

“Be patient!” is a phrase I tell my children many times throughout the day, ironically often in an impatient voice.  It’s a difficult concept for children to embrace, let alone adults for that matter, who balk at the size of a line longer than just ourselves.  We are a society living by the mantra, “I…

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On A Beam Of Light Review


  Growing up, Albert Einstein was a genius with an IQ so high that I didn’t try comprehending the answers he discovered.  I’m not a genius, so what’s the point, I figured.  There were kids in my math class who’d probably get it, but they loved math and science. I simply wanted a decent grade…

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Picture a Tree Review

Picture a Tree Review Barbara Reid

When you look at the cover of one of Barbara Reid’s picture books, you can sense you’re about to enjoy something unique in the world of children’s literature.  She uses a style called Plasticine and its three dimensional nature makes you want to reach out and touch the pages- in fact my young children do…

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A Good Day Review

A Good Day Review Kevin Henkes

While meeting at a library for a playdate, my friend noticed Kevin Henkes’ A Good Day sitting out and mentioned how much her children loved it.  My children and I read the copy and I could immediately see its appeal.  Right after you read the title, the first line is, “It was a bad day…”…

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Homer Review

Homer Review Elisha Cooper

  Dogs are special creatures.  Personally, I think they’re four-legged sages (Read more about that here).  Given how many children love dogs and how many families consider dogs another family member, it shouldn’t come as a surprise then how many children’s books have a dog as the central character.  Some walk on their hind legs…

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Bear’s First Christmas


Holiday-themed books seem to often fall into one of two categories: religious and “North Pole related”.  I think that’s why I loved Bear’s First Christmas written by Robert Kinerk and illustrated by Jim Marche so much- because it felt like a category unto itself.  The title I think is a bit misleading because Bear and…

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  • Children’s Book Recommendation Overview

    There are a lot of great children’s book lists out there. However, the Present Senses’ Children’s Book Recommendations are based on a combination of several factors that make them what we’ll call “present” books. For the time being, we are focusing on picture books.

    1.) The overall message in the book has the character(s) engaging in the present moment in some fashion. This can be something as simple as the characters soaking in the experience of the ocean, or along the lines of a character having an epiphany about how to deal with a difficult situation. The present moment message might be very subtle or blatantly obvious.

    2.) The book is very enjoyable for both children and adults. I say this because if parents are not engaged in reading the book, it is unlikely the child will be, and hence neither are really in the moment of the experience of reading together. While reading any book with your child is of course wonderful, I’m recommending books that pass the “over and over and over” test (i.e., I can still muster some excitement in my voice to read a book my child wants to hear a hundred times). There are lots of books out there that children enjoy for various reasons and as adults we read them for that reason alone. But, my focus is on books that have a message that speaks to both the child and the adult. Get everyone really engaged. A book doesn’t have to be super long and void of pictures to do that.

    3.) When a book has a “present” message for the readers, it lends itself to adults engaging their children with thought provoking questions. To help with this process, I’ll be posing questions in my recommendations that you might want to ask your children while reading the book. Kids rarely (okay, never) like to be preached to, so having children talk about the message they received from the book is often a safe way to communicate about something similar that might be on their minds.

    A note on age recommendations: I don't include them because younger kids can get into books with lots of words and older kids can enjoy books without many. If attention span’s a challenge, consider paraphrasing, or simply stop reading and start up where you left off another time. There’s nothing that says you have to read a book from cover to cover in one sitting. Or, perhaps you could just look at the pictures together. Two children reading the same book together can definitely enjoy it at different levels.

    Here’s to some “present reading”! Enjoy! And, please feel free to contact us if you know of any books that you think we should consider recommending!