Our two-year-old twins are insatiable bookworms, and of course my wife and I couldn't be happier about that. There's a whole body of research about the benefits of getting children interested in reading early, and we love not only reading to them, but also talking about ideas and characters from their books when we're doing other activities. But there is no accounting for some toddlers' tastes, so we occasionally find ourselves reading books repeatedly that aren't...shall we say...up to our usual literary standards.
I admit that I'm a bit of a book snob, but I don't think it's too much to ask for kids' books have appealing artwork, solid stories, catchy sonic qualities (simple rhyme schemes, for example), and, most of all, a sense of humor.
Here are 12 titles from five of our favorite authors that fit the bill -- though they aren't necessarily part of the Kid Lit canon -- and that my wife and I, and our children, love to read over and over again.
Hondo and Fabian
Peter McCarty is one of our favorite artists and writers of kids' books. His artwork ranges from lush to spare, but is always gorgeous and conveys plenty of emotion without being over-the-top. He's also a versatile writer who can use both understated narration and boisterous dialogue to great effect.
One of his most popular titles, Hondo and Fabian, chronicles the activities of a dog and cat who are pets in the same house. Hondo goes to the beach, and Fabian stays home. It's simple, low-key, and yet delightful. (Macmillan, $7)