I’m delighted to introduce Allie Johnston, who will be blogging with me from time to time…or if we’re lucky, on a regular basis. We have worked together for years, though in this work/life balancing act we both perform, she currently spends more time on the “Mom” side than I do—lucky lady—to her two gorgeous daughters. It turns out, we both love children’s books. I can’t wait to check out the books that Allie and her girls read. Enjoy what I hope will be the first of many posts from her.   ~Christine


Reading_PatricelliI am a lifelong lover of children’s books. Before I was the expecting mother who read aloud to my gestating little ones, I was the college student who took every Children’s Literature class offered in the School of Education I attended. I was the type of person who collected beautifully written and illustrated children’s books long before kids were on the horizon. Now that I am a mom to two young daughters, we have an overflowing Library Books tote and not an inch left to store our own constantly growing collection (which, admittedly, has not deterred me from adding new titles!).

To me, all of this “book clutter” is perfectly justifiable. I cannot imagine our lives without our wonderful and carefully curated collection of children’s books or the joy that daily reading together brings.

When we began the process of potty training with my elder daughter, I immediately went online to order some books to help with her transition. I confess that I was not looking for lasting, quality literature. I selected several board books that would seemingly appeal to a two-year-old: some simple, standard tales about potty-using princesses that would provide a little inspiration.

Potty_PatricelliEnter Leslie Patricelli. One of the board books I fortuitously ordered that day was her book, Potty. At first read, my little one fell in love with the book. She asked for me to read it over and over…for days. I quickly memorized its simple, humorous story line so I could recite it to her while I went about my day and she turned the pages.

For Valentine’s Day, I decided to try Huggy Kissy, a sweet and silly book of hugs and kisses. Soon we were adding two more Leslie Patricelli books to our collection—Tickle and Toot. My four-year-old still loves the books, but they are really perfect for my 18-month-old, who has kissed the baby in Huggy Kissy so many times that you can see big-baby-smooch marks on its sturdy, board book pages.

This experience showed me that it’s really fun to let your kids respond to new books, particularly those you may not expect to be a hit or haven’t heard of. I love discovering new authors with my little ones and am now so much more open to finding undiscovered books!

Ideas for Discovering New Books and Authors

  • Let your little ones explore your local library. There is a bin of board books in our local children’s room that my 18-month-old loves to dive into (sometimes literally), and I love to see what she is drawn to pulling out. There are a few books that she always goes to. My four-year-old loves picking a mystery book from the shelf, which we borrow (if the reading level is appropriate), and in that way we try new books and authors I’ve never heard of.
  • Do a book swap with a friend. My four-year-old’s best friend is English and her collection includes many children’s books by British authors. Every few months we trade a bag of favorite books and enjoy. (Before we dive in, I note the title and number of books so we return them all!)
  • Ask for recommendations from other kids! When my girls and I meet new friends at the park or in town, one of the “getting to know you” questions we ask is, “what’s your favorite book?” Often it’s a book we haven’t read and we add it to our (ever-growing) reading list.