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7 Amazing Picture Books for Young Readers

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Every pregnant mom should have at least one friend who buys books and books and books for the soon-to-be-here baby. You can never read too much or too early to a baby and having lots of books to choose from makes the reading process so much fun. If you're a parent looking for a good book to add to your baby or toddler's library, or you're a friend looking for an excellent baby shower or birthday treat, here are seven books for early readers that adults can enjoy just as much as kids.

The Going to Bed Book
The Going to Bed Book Sandra Boynton

The Going to Bed Book

All Sandra Boynton books are big hits, but The Going to Bed Book is extra special. All of those crazy, goofy animals must go to bed and Boynton uses her classic, silly (and colorful!) illustrations to show us the animals' bedtime routine: some exercise, brushing teeth, a bath, and more. It's a book full of rhythm and rhyme, one you will quickly memorize and find yourself telling your child as you walk down the aisles of the grocery store to keep her distracted. Bonus: it's a book book, so the pages will stand up to wear and tear from repeated reading, and it's bound to become a family classic.

The Pout-Pout Fish
The Pout-Pout Fish Deborah Diesen

The Pout-Pout Fish

That poor pout-pout fish is so sad and... well, pouty. He's been hit with the "dreary-wearies" and can't seem to cheer up, even with his friends trying very hard to make him happy. What will finally make him turn that fishy frown into a smile? In The Pout-Pout Fish, Deborah Diesen (and illustrator Dan Hanna) give readers the story of a down-and-out fish who just needs something to make him a little less glum. Written in stanzas of four lines each, this is an incredibly fun book to read to kids (or rap to kids!). Its illustrations are a fun enrichment to a soothing text. It will easily become a repeat offender in the nightly books-to-read-before-bed stack, but it's so fun that no one will mind. (For families who enjoy The Pout-Pout Fish, Diesen and Hanna have written two sequels called The Pout-Pout Fish in the Deep, Deep Dark and The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School, scheduled to be released June 2014.)

Giraffes Can't Dance
Giraffes Can't Dance Giles Andreae

Giraffes Can't Dance

Giraffes Can't Dance, by Giles Andreae and illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees, is an inspiring story of Gerald the giraffe who just wants to dance but is told by his fellow jungle friends that giraffes can't dance. A smart cricket intervenes and gives Gerald the courage to do what he loves - he finds the music around him and dances and dances and dances, shocking the rest of his pals. This is a fabulous book about embracing diversity and following your heart. Be prepared: you'll probably have to get up and dance with your son or daughter once you're done to celebrate that giraffes can dance! (This book can also be found as a board book, good for tiny hands that don't realize books can be broken and ripped!)

Good Dog, Carl
Good Dog, Carl Alexandra Day

Good Dog, Carl

Not for the faint of imagination, Alexandra Day's picture book Good Dog, Carl is just that - a picture book. The first and last pages have a small amount of text and that's it. The pages in between are beautifully illustrated and show what Carl, a very good and helpful Rottweiler, does with the baby he is left to care for during the day. Their adventures are funny (Carl takes the baby swimming in the aquarium and slides him down the laundry chute) and definitely very whimsical. Adult readers have the opportunity to make up silly stories to go with these silly pictures, making for a story that's never the same twice. It's also a fun book for practicing pre-literary skills such as having children make up stories to go with the pictures. (Children who enjoy this book are in luck because there's a whole series of books about Carl and his many adventures.)

Willoughby & the Lion
Willoughby & the Lion Greg E. Foley

Willoughby & the Lion

When Willoughby moves to a new house, it feels wrong - too small and very lonely. When he discovers a lion in his backyard sitting on a rock one day, Willoughby gets the chance to make some wishes about his life. He makes some wishes in the beginning and gets a roller coaster a giant house and many friends. When he has one wish left, he learns an important lesson about friendship from the lion who gave him the wishes to begin with. Author and illustrator Greg E. Foley has created a book of spectacular drawings in Willoughby & the Lion. The artwork is both simple (using only black, white, and gold) and complex (intricate drawings with those three colors) and will appeal to older kids reading alone, younger kids reading with adults, and adults reading to kids or alone. This is the first book in a planned series.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs Judi Barrett

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Long before it was turned into a successful movie, Judi Barrett's book Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs was a best-selling picture book about the town of Chewandswallow and what happened when all the weather was food. Soup rain! Mashed potato snow! Hamburger storms! It was all fun until the food got bigger... and bigger... and grew out of control, making it unsafe for everyone. Cloudy's illustrations are vivid and will remain in the reader's imagination long after the reading is done. The image of butter melting on top of a snowy mountain of mashed potatoes is one that we will never forget. Plus: who doesn't love the idea of pizza and ice cream and all of their favorites being available any time they want?!

Press Here
Press Here Tullet

Press Here

"Press here." So begins a wonderful book that teaches children simple commands, colors, directions (right/left, up/down), and creativity. The dots multiply, move, change colors all over the pages and children follow the instructions on the page: sometimes pressing, something shaking, sometimes tilting, always having fun. It's fun for adult readers, too, and so easy to find yourself doing the same actions as the captivated children.

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