Although your main “homework” as a parent is finding the best early learning program for your child, there is one more thing you can do to prepare him or her for the journey ahead: read books! Whether they read picture books independently, follow simple stories alongside you, or merely listen while you read aloud, the process of engaging with books is an integral linchpin in your child’s development.
This month we’ve selected three classics that will foster a love of reading in any young child. Our picks are tried and true, all genuinely beloved by educators and young readers alike. Check them out from the public library, or find a new (or used) copy for your child’s own bookshelf.
by Maurice Sendak (Harper Collins $18.95) Age 3-8
At more than fifty years old, this timeless adventure is now enchanting its third generation of young readers, and for good reason. With enduringly magical, Caldecott award-winning illustrations, Sendak follows the good-hearted but mischievous Max on a “wild rumpus” with forest beasts. They teach him about imagination, fun, and human emotions, but Max’s ultimate lesson is about the value of home and family. This classic is just as entertaining for any adult readers out there who may be unfamiliar with “WTWTA.”
by Eric Carle (Philomel $9.99) Age 1-5
Since its appearance in 1969, this endearing picture book has been published in 60+ languages and sold over 41 million copies. Carle’s classic stealthily uses the life stages of a butterfly—from egg to caterpillar to cocoon to butterfly—to teach counting, colors, days of the week, and more. It’s an entertaining introduction to science, and a sure tool for reinforcing the basic math children will need when they start school.
by Crockett Johnson (Harper Collins $16.99) Age 2-5
Harold is a pajama-clad toddler with a purple crayon and a vivid imagination. Drawn in the 1950s, his round head and angelic expression resemble the old-fashioned “Gerber baby,” but his motivation is timeless, and guaranteed to enthrall today’s readers (who seem captivated by the same repetition many parents find tedious!) Throughout this gentle story, Harold’s creativity and common sense are expressed with illustrations whose simplicity is the key to their appeal. Harold uses his giant purple crayon to draw his way from not-ready-for-bedtime and back again, teaching young readers to ponder the difference between fantasy and reality.