Mo Willems’ characters, Pigeons, Piggie & Elephant, and Edwina, are beloved by children, if mine are any indication.
My friend Janette will be celebrating her daughter’s 4th birthday this weekend. I compiled this book collection to introduce a series of new characters to the birthday girl.
The New York Times Book Review referred to Willem’s pigeon character as “one of this decade’s contributions to the pantheon of great picture book characters”.
The Pigeon is whiny, shortsighted, narcissistic, needy, relentless and nakedly manipulative; in short, the Pigeon is a thinly veiled 4-year-old, drawn by Willems with a sure, simple line and a keen sense, as the pages turn, of comic timing.
The “Edwina” book won a National Parenting Publications Award in 2006. I read this book to both of my boys and they always giggled when I say the name “Reginald Von Hoobie-Doobie”. Try saying that fast without smiling, I bet you can’t!
When my older son was in kindergarten, his 3rd grade library buddy recommended books to him. In other words, she introduced “Elephant & Piggie” to our family. For that, I am forever grateful. Now my son started to read, we love acting out mini-plays as Gerald the Elephant and Piggie.
If you are not already a Mo Willems fan, check out these books. You’ll love them.
Back in college, I chuckled when my psychology professor talked about how she strived to raised her children in a gender-neutral way. She had a girl and a boy. One day, her son wanted to go to school with hair clips just like his sister. Despite gentle discouragement, she wasn’t able to talk her son out of it, so off he went to school with hair clips. Fortunately other kids thought it was so novel and did not tease him.
Now I have two sons, I found myself in a similar delightful dilemma. Ever since I downloaded Pinkalicous the Musical to my Honda Odyssey’s hard drive, little E has been asking me to play it whenever we are in the car. Periodically he’ll shout out, “I love pink”. Even my kindergartner says, “Mommy, do you know my second favorite color is? Pink!”
Children’s books really shouldn’t be about the gender of the main character. It should be the interesting things the characters say or encounter.
I’d like to introduce two book series where the central characters are girls with strong personalities.
Ladybug Girl is about a girl with a red ladybug costume. With a vivid imagination, she forms a bug squad with playground friends.
Pinkalicious is about a girl who obviously loves the color pink. In fact, her obsession often leads to trouble, as she turned pink after consuming too many pink cupcakes.
What other young heroine book series do you recommend?
In the past few weeks, our little E’s teacher Chandrika started introducing yoga to kids at preschool.
When my 3-year-old boy came home and demonstrated “ice cream” and “airplane” poses, it was incredibly adorable. I immediately purchased a copy of Bal Yoga for Kids book and DVD, the same material used at school. Now it’s becoming our nightly routine. Before I put the kids to bed, we stretch and do a few poses. We end the night with the Namaste pose (legs criss-crossed with thumbs and index fingers touching to make a circle).
One great thing about this collection of video is that it introduces 30+ poses, 26 of them (A-Z) are based on animals or everyday objectives, e.g. ice cream, umbrella. Not only are kids mimicking animal postures, e.g. extending two arms to form an elephant trunk, they are also learning A, B, C at the same time.
Here’s A for Airplane pose.
I did yoga when I was pregnant with my first child. While I appreciate the meditative aspect, I never quite appreciate it until recently. This mother-and-son yoga time has given us another chance to bond.
“It’s Belly Button Beach where tons of hippos stand around in bathing suits too little because they hope you will admire the button on their middle.”
Not all fairies are young like Tinkerbell. The star of this beautifully illustrated book is a grandmother fairy. The accompanied audio track is simply delightful.
“Now I think this is real. Oh, I think this is true.
Yes, it happened to me and it happened to you.
Take a look in the mirror. Do you see something funny?
Is there a round hole right there on your tummy?”
Mo’s one of my all-time favorite children’s authors. I first stumbled upon one of the Penguin books at a local children’s library. Since my 5yo started kindergarten, he’s been bringing home Mo Williems books, selected by his 3rd grade library buddy, every Wednesday from the school library.
A short bio from the author page on Amazon:
A three-time Caldecott Honor winner for Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, and Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity, Mo Willems has also won two Geisel Medals for There is a Bird on Your Head! and Are You Ready to Play Outside? And his books are perennial New York Times bestsellers. Before he turned to children’s books, Mo was a writer and animator on Sesame Street, where he won six Emmy Awards. Mo lives with his family in Massachusetts.
All of his books have lovable and quirky characters. Penguin asks for things and doesn’t ever get anything. Gerald the Elephant and his best friend Piggie have the silliest conversations. Edwina the Dinosaur bakes cookies for everyone.
Here are the top 3 of all the Mo books my kids and I have read so far:
Kids love bright colors, so we opted for a Spice Butternut (orange) and a Handsome Hue (blue) for our boys.
One thing we try not to do is to have frames with sharp edges and glass. Instead, we got wall decals and canvas prints.
Here are some of my favorite items to liven up my boys’ rooms:
Brown Bear Wall Appliques – Eric Carle is one of our favorite children’s authors. His distinct illustrations are highly recognizable. Often when I get my toddler dressed, I would point to the wall and ask him what “Brown Bear” or “Goldfish” sees. You can see the co-author Bill Martin Jr. reading from this book.
Cici Factory canvas prints – we have a number of whimsical prints with robots and rockets. They have internal wood frames and are ready to hang. What I like about them is that there are no sharp edges.
Green Leaf Art – These safari animals are really adorable. For my little toddler who was born the Year of Tiger, I thought it was quite appropriate.
“Dimdat loves ice cream” by Cici Factory
“Brothers on the moon” by Cici Factory
“Safari” by Green Leaf Art
In my spare time, I really like browsing decorated rooms using Houzz’s iPad app. It’s an awesome source for inspiration.
I am often asked what some of my favorite children’s books are.
At any one time, we can have up to 30 books from the children’s library. Through the help of librarians, I was introduced to some incredibly writers. The key to reading to your kids comes down to finding books that you also enjoy. Just like the Sesame Street makes it worth watching as a parent by inviting celebrity guests, many authors sneak in humor or puns that give me the chuckles.
What Dads Can’t Do
Every time I read the book, I would tear up. It reminds me of my father’s selflessness and my husband’s dedication to our boys.
You Be You
It is about having the confidence to be different. My 2yo toddler loves looking for the little fish named Adri swimming among other fish.
The Pout-Pout Fish
This is a cleverly written and vocally engaging story with a twist. Blub, Bluuub, Bluuuub!
I Love You Through And Through
One of the few books I could recite by heart. When my boys were babies, I would lay them on the bed and make them giggle by pointing to their heads and bottoms.
Kids love these books. I love them even more because these books bring back so many memories whenever we read them aloud together.
I am a mom of 2. My oldest child is now 5 and half. He started in kindergarten this past fall.
When I first learned that I was pregnant, my sister took me shopping at Babies R Us. I was overwhelmed walking around the store with the registry scanner for an hour. Back then, I didn’t know what a crib bumper from stroller, high chair from a car seat.
Soon I got a copy of Baby Bargains and started identifying the best product for each category. By best, it wasn’t the most expensive, but the most effective, durable, or simply the “right” one for my needs.
Since then, many of my expectant friends, mostly fathers, asked me for a list of items. That’s the impetus for this blog.