Best Books for Brainier Kids

Reading together not only creates a perfect excuse for snuggle time, it boosts your child's imagination and critical thinking skills. Check out these stories recommended by the Quicklists Consulting Committee, a subset of the American Library Association, as perfectly age-appropriate for promoting your little one's emotional and language development.

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Birth to 3: Big Fat Hen, by Keith Baker

One, two, buckle my shoe; three, four, count some more. Keith Baker's lushly illustrated version of the classic nursery rhyme gives toddlers plenty of chances to practice counting the denizens of the big fat hen's coop, including snails, caterpillars, and an ever-increasing number of chicks.

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The Everything Book, by Denise Fleming

The aptly named Everything Book has everything a little one could want, such as pages of shapes, animals, and alphabet letters, interspersed with laugh-out-loud poems. Help your toddler identify the colors of fruit or the parts of a meal in Fleming's signature collage illustrations.

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More More More Said the Baby, by Vera B. Williams

In this sweet Caldecott Honor Book, affectionate adults of all ages and cultures chase, swing, and cuddle toddlers, who scream for more. Be warned: You may feel the need to pause for some midstory tickling.

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Where's Spot?, by Eric Hill

Spot's mom searches for her pup, but it's your child who helps her peek behind doors and under rugs in this lift-the-flap book. Where's Spot? marked the first appearance of the beloved yellow dog, and it's easy to see why he became so popular. The interactive text will engage even on-the-go toddlers.

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4 to 7: Frog and Toad Together, by Arnold Lobel

Whether they're planting a garden or resisting the lure of fresh-baked cookies, Frog and Toad are admirable best friends. Your kindergartner will love their five adventures in this easy-to-read book, and you'll love that it provides the perfect way to talk to your child about best friends and bad dreams.

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Good Night, Good Knight, by Shelley Moore Thomas

A brave knight hears a roar and gallops off to discover not a damsel in distress, but a trio of young dragons in need of some bedtime help. It's a great good-night book for early readers and a fun introduction to homophones.

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Pass the Celery, Ellery! by Jeffrey Fisher Gaga

The author/illustrator turned a favorite game -- rhyming names with dinner dishes -- into a playful, color-saturated picture book. Once you read Pass the spaghetti, Betty and Pass the veal, Emile, you'll want to give the game a shot at your own table. Now what rhymes with grilled cheese?

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The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats

Keats' 1963 classic, which won the Caldecott Medal, follows young Peter as he explores his snow-covered city. At the end of the day, Peter brings a snowball into the house, only to discover it's dissolved into a puddle of water. Do your own arctic exploring by observing how quickly ice cubes melt in cold water, in hot water, and on the counter.

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8 to 12: Grandfather's Journey, by Allen Say

This Caldecott Medal-winning picture book tells the story of Say's grandfather, who left his Japanese village for America. After years in San Francisco, he returns to his hometown. Say repeats the journey in reverse but discovers that "the moment I am in one country, I am homesick for the other." Talk with your child about where he feels truly at home; it may be just as simple as wherever you are.

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More Stories Julian Tells, by Ann Cameron

For Julian; his brother, Huey; and his best friend Gloria, ordinary days -- trips to the park, arguments on the front porch, boredom on a sweltering summer day -- are opportunities for magic. Simple enough to entice beginning chapter book readers, Cameron's book also makes a great read-aloud. You'll wish you were part of Huey's circle of friends, too.

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A Poke in the I, by Paul Janeczko

In this collection of "concrete" poems, the careful arrangement of words on a page adds extra layers of meaning and kid appeal. Who can resist a poem shaped like a balloon or one called "Whee" that races down the page as quickly as the sled it describes? Your grade-schooler will be itching to try her hand at a concrete poem, so use Chris Raschka's illustrations as poetic inspiration for a writing and illustration session.

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Ramona Quimby, Age 8, by Beverly Cleary

Ramona is the ultimate lovable third grader, familiar to many parents from their own childhoods. Her scrapes -- only Ramona could crack a raw egg on her head -- are at once hilarious and achingly familiar. They'll make your child feel like she has a friend when her own good intentions go awry.

Copyright © 2010 Meredith Corporation.

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