When I graduated from college, I casually mentioned to my older sister that it would be cool to start my own mini-library with all the books I loved as a kid. Because sisters are awesome (mine being no exception), when my next birthday rolled around my wish came true. As I opened A Bargain for Frances, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Where the Wild Things Are, and Smile for Auntie, childhood memories filled my heart. I was transported to a moment that I could feel myself getting lost on the bright green couch in our elementary school holding these very same books in my hands.
Books create such powerful memories — good, happy memories — and I wanted my kids to have the same attachment to books that I do. There is nothing like snuggling up with a good book, so creating spaces that offer that feeling of getting lost in a story, so my kids could have those same childhood memories, was important to me. This summer my youngest and I created an outdoor reading space so he could finish earning some fun reading incentives from our local library. We gathered up blankets and pillows and picked a shady spot under our lilac tree. Together we picked mint leaves to enjoy a cool glass of tea while we read and got busy setting it all up. After we were finished my niece came over to rekindle the excitement, and she and the boys read under the fort a while longer.
Inside, we have two spaces that the boys like to sit, read, and enjoy their favorite books. In their room they have a space next to a bookshelf with a comfy rug and a monkey chair from my oldest son’s first birthday. The other is a fort in the playroom that I asked my husband to build three days before Christmas. It’s adorned with lights, my grandparents’ mailbox from their home in the city, and a table and chairs underneath. In case you were wondering: Yes, I’m crazy and, yes, my husband rolls with it. The boys fill it with blankets and pillows, and the look of the fort always changes. It’s been decorated for Christmas, Halloween, and many times a Nerf War, but is always the perfect place to read a good book no matter what the season.
Over the years, the boys have heard my favorite childhood stories many times, but have added favorites of their own to our little library. It’s all about creating memories, people!
Below are some of my family’s favorites and a few more from the rest of the Mama Knows It team.
By Sandra Boynton
Sandra Boynton is a genius. There, I said it. Toddlers can’t help but have you read this 5 or 10 times in a row, and I found myself stomping to the beat right along with them.
By Daniel Kirk
I’m a sucker for clever rhyming and this book has that and more. Will needs a pet and travels to space to find the perfect one. I give this 3 stars, one for each of my boys, because they loved it so much I have this baby memorized.
Hot Rod Hamster
By Cynthia Lord and Derek Anderson
This hamster’s dreams come true when his friends who believe in him help him win a race despite his size. Again with the rhyming, but it’s interactive too!
By Jane Yolen and John Schoenherr
There was something extremely calming about the poetic cadence in this book and was the closest thing to magic when it was time to put our kids to bed. Every parent’s dream!
By Sharon Hart Addy and Wade Zahares
A prospector and his son find a tiny gold nugget, but what it turns into is so much more. Yup, we sure were lucky to find this one, yup lucky!
The Complete Adventures of Curious George
By Margret and H.A. Rey
This was given by my sister (surprise) for my oldest son’s first birthday to go along with the monkey theme. The thick book was a bit cumbersome at times for those nightly reads, but never disappointed with all the classics rolled into one. We read this to him every night for a year, and I’ll show you the tattered spine to prove it!
The Monsters’ Monster
By Patrick McDonnell
Three bad mama jamma monsters, together, want to create the baddest monster of all, but are surprised when they get the opposite. A polite, kind, “dank you”, kinda monster. We just love that something bad becomes something good.
By Kelly Bennett and Noah Z. Jones
Ever get something you don’t want and then find out later it’s exactly what you need? That’s what this book is all about; just a boy and his fish. My boys love this…or maybe it’s the way I sing boom-boom-ba-da-deeee!!
By Howie Schneider
This is funny, but not funny. I can relate to putting up with something just to make my kids happy. For instance in this book, when the boy’s dog is eating the house. Of course, my kids think this book is hilarious.