Rachel Bomberger is the Internet marketing manager at Eerdmans. She loves reading, writing, and bedtime stories.
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By day, I read and work primarily with books for grown-ups. By night, however, I read kids’ books. Lots and lots of kids’ books.
In honor of Children’s Book Week this week (and as a rare treat for myself), I’m letting a few of these treasured bedtime stories cross over into my workday, as I count down my Top Ten Family Bedtime Read-Alouds from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.
Yesterday, I shared books 6–10 on the list.
Today, I reveal my top five.
5. Library Lily
The hero of this story, Library Lily, shows my kids how much fun it is to read, and read, and read, and read some more. Her best friend, Milly, shows them how much fun it is to be active and have lots of outdoor adventures. Both girls are sweet and smart and super adorable.
Every time we read this book, I can see the wheels in my oldest daughter’s head turning as she asks herself, “Am I Lily? Or am I Milly?”
Whichever character she settles on (and I personally hope she decides to emulate both Lily and Milly), I’ll be one happy mama.
4. My Goldfish
My Goldfish is one of two books on this list that owes its place here almost entirely to the extraordinary vocal talents of my dear husband. When he picks up this book and begins (in his most epic Jeremy Clarkson voice) “My goldfish is the strongest goldfish . . . in the world,” I know we’re all in for a good time.
Although our family now shares part ownership of a German shorthair (our first dog), I remain grateful for this book, which was so dear to us back when we had never ventured further into petdom than a glass bowl and a beta fish.
Barroux’s lighthearted ode to a beloved goldfish taught our children to regard their own succession of fish not as inferior creatures — somewhere near the bottom between an ant farm and a parakeet on the scale of one to awesome — but rather as the excellent (if short-lived) animal friends that they were.
3. The Wild Girl
This is my favorite book on this list, albeit for a very personal reason. When I was a child myself, my grandpa used to make up stories to tell me and my brother and sisters. I would give my eye teeth now to remember one of those stories word for word, but I can’t. I’ve tried. I remember little bits and snatches — about orphans living alone in the wild . . . about bears . . . and fishing . . . and storms . . . with moments of suspense . . . and (always, always) happy endings — but that’s it.
This, plain and simple, is why I love The Wild Girl: it has nearly everything I remember from those wonderful, forgotten Grandpa stories, woven together in a tale that my children enjoy hearing and seeing as much as I enjoy reading it to them. (Also, the artwork is stunning.)
When we read it together, I may be thinking about my sainted Grandpa, but I know that my children are imagining what it would be like to live with just a dog for company in the “wide, wide wilderness” like the resourceful little girl in the book. Whatever we’re each thinking about as we read, however, we all come away satisfied.
2. Good Night, Chickie
What can I say about this book that I didn’t already say last year? Not much.
We still have the book. (It’s a little worse for wear now, with an unfortunate tear through the bottom of some of the early pages.) We still read it often. We still love it. We still enjoy singing out together in unison: “Mother Hen, Mother Hen, are you there?” We still giggle every time at the silly picture of Chickie and Bunny on the potty.
And speaking of cute animals on potties: Émile Jadoul’s newest book — about a small penguin who learns to go to the bathroom at night all by himself — was just released last week. Color me excited! I took my copy home last night, and it was such a smash hit that if I ever create another of these lists, I have no doubt that All by Myself will by then have earned its own spot.
I imagine a bunch of you figured I’d be done after Good Night, Chickie. I do so love that book. And I might have stopped there . . . except that this post isn’t just about me.
There is one book on this list that each one of my three children loves equally well. It’s the one that sends them all scampering eagerly to the couch at story time. It’s the one I use as a bribe to get them to brush their teeth promptly and thoroughly before bed. The one that somehow sends them all into riotous giggle fits every time they read it. The one that even the tiniest of them can “read” all on her own.
I may be Chickie’s biggest fan, but it’s Mary Newell DePalma’s Uh-Oh! that occupies the uncontested top spot on this list of Bomberger family favorites.
The tragedy is that I’m not even allowed to read it. Oh, I’ll do in an emergency, but like My Goldfish, in our house, this is a “Daddy book.” I don’t blame the children their prejudice. DePalma’s effervescent, nearly wordless picture book deserves to be read by someone who is really, really good at sound effects, and in our family, that someone is not me.
In the end, though, I’m okay with that, because when it comes to a book as engaging and entertaining as this one, watching them all enjoy it across the room is perhaps even more fun than reading it myself.