A friend of mine asked me for some kid book recommendations, so I thought I would just post them here. We have a ton of books, and story time is an integral part of our bedtime routine. My wife has been a stickler for a regular time (7pm) and routine for bed, and I think it is the major contributor to our girls' excellent sleeping habits. They tend to go to bed reasonably easy, and are usually sound asleep before 8pm. And they sleep until 6:30 or so, no matter what time they actually go out. And rarely wake up during the night. And it has been that way ever since they were very little. Can't ask for anything more!
The final step in the routine (after things like toothbrushing, bathroom, washing, and the like) is for all of us to gather together on our bed and read a book or three. We borrow plenty of books from the library, and each girl has a full bookcase. This list doesn't include any classics, like Goodnight Moon (Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd), Pat the Bunny (Dorothy Kunhardt) or anything by classic authors like Dr. Seuss, Sandra Boynton, or Eric Carle (you can't go wrong with any of them). These are more obscure books that I think really work well with any child up to about 6 or so, but are also interesting enough to read (over and over and over and over) again and again by adults. Often this means some good rhyming action, but not always.
- Click Clack Moo Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin. We haven't found the sequels to be nearly as clever.
- How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague. On the other hand, we've found all the books in this series to be outstanding. One of my fondest memories of our youngest are of reading this book and her answering the question "Noooooo".
- Bubba and Beau Go Night-Night by Kathi Appelt, Arthur Howard (Illustrator)
- Oh My Baby, Little One by Kathi Appelt, Jane Dyer (Illustrator)
- The Water Hole by Graeme Base. This one has some cool illustrations, with hidden animals on each page. We're still working on finding all of them
- The Complete Adventures of Big Dog and Little Dog by Dav Pilkey
- Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers, Marla Frazee (Illustrator). Babies love babies and this one has a bunch of them, with some really nice rhymes too
- Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister. The whole series remains a favorite, with sparkly illustrations that really attract the eyes, and very nice fables with solid morals.
- Sally Goes To The Beach by Stephen Huneck. All the Huneck Sally books are big colorful books on a Labrador Retriever's adventures. This one and the mountain one are favorites.
- The Everything Book by Denise Fleming
- Kiss Good Night by Amy Hest, Anita Jeram (Illustrator)
- My Car by Byron Barton. Probably the best for the youngest set, very bold bright colors and easy words. A real favorite of the girls when they were younger. The author has a bunch of books and all are good.
- Two Little Trains by Margaret Wise Brown and Leo and Diane Dillon. Clever rhyming in this one, with typical odd Brown patterns.
- All By Myself by Aliki. If I were forced to pick just one book, I think this would be it. Clever rhymes about growing up and trying to do stuff yourself.
- I Love You Like Crazy Cakes by Rose A. Lewis and Jane Dyer. A poignant book about adopting a Chinese baby
- Ella Sarah Gets Dressed by Margaret Chodos-Irvine. For any parent who has tried to convince their kid about clothing choices. That means all of us.
- When Sophie Gets Angry...really, Really Angry by Molly Bang. Very clever book about a little girl who can barely contain her anger.
- Alpha Bugs: A Pop-Up Alphabet by David A. Carter. There's a whole series of these pop-up books, but this was a favorite.
- I Love You, Blue Kangaroo by Emma Chichester Clark. All of these are very cute stories about a little girl and her stuffed animal, Blue Kangaroo
As for buying these, I can heartily recommend AllBooks4Less.com and its sister site BookCloseouts.com. I think they may actually be the same company, but the prices can't be beat, although as you can imagine from the names, the selection is hit or miss. I always start with AllBooks4Less and then try the other major online vendors.