I love books. When my wife and I were preparing for our son’s birth, one of the first things we put in his room was a bookshelf, which already had a shelf full when he arrived. Since then, we’ve picked up dozens of other books from random trips to the bookstore, yard sales, and book sales. In that time, we’ve gathered some excellent stories that have become regular fixtures in our reading rotation:

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

Words and art by Peter Brown

Pick up this book for the artwork – Brown has drawn up some fantastic pages here, and he makes an excellent use of space, something that more children’s book authors and artists seem to be doing these days. Along with the art, this story has an important message: it’s okay to be different or to express yourself in different ways. In Mr. Tiger’s case, he’s stymied by the rigid social rules and dress code of his home, but living by himself in the wild is lonely. There are good places for interaction for young listeners: plenty of points for them to ROAR along with Mr. Tiger. [Amazon]

Chu’s Day / Chu’s First Day Of School / Chu’s Day At The Beach

Words by Neil Gaiman, Art by Adam Rex

Chu’s Day was the first book that my son began to ask for. The tiny panda named navigates his way through the first day of school or the beach, all while coping with a difficult problem: his explosive sneezes that level buildings. Each of these books have Gaiman’s classic sense of whimsy, and they’re easily accessible and entertaining with bright illustrations. [Amazon]

Say Hello To Zorro! / Zorro Gets An Outfit / Mister Bud Wears The Cone

Words and Art by Carter Goodrich

These three books quickly became favorites of mine. Mr. Bud is a Lab dog joined by a new friend: a pug named Zorro. The central focus of these books are a sort of friendship between the two dogs, who learn to live with one another, learning not to be embarrassed by outfits or cope with the dreaded cone. Goodrich does an interesting thing with dialogue, which allows a reader to speed through it quickly or to add some additional dialogue. [Amazon]

Julia’s House For Lost Creatures

Words and Art by Ben Hatke

I first came across Ben Hatke by way of his Zita the Space Girl graphic novels. They’re fantastic stories, and his Julia and her strange refuge for lost and fantastical creatures is splendidly written and drawn. Julie finds herself lonely in her fantastical home and puts out a sign for lost creatures to come in from the rain. They come in droves, and she has to figure out how to get them from wrecking her home. Like Hatke’s Zita, Julia is a fantastic female character who’s creative, practical and commanding. [Amazon]

Mustache Baby / Mustache Baby Meets His Match

Words by Bridget Heos and Art by Joy Ang

This book is just delightful: it’s all about a baby with a moustache, who learns the differences between good and evil as his mustache grows and turns up at the end. Later, he meets a friend with a similar condition, and learns how to deal with a partner and nemesis. Each book is a clever and entertaining story that read smoothly and is full of references that’ll engage parents as well as kids. [Amazon]

This Moose Belongs To Me

Words and Art by Oliver Jeffers

In keeping with my wife’s obsession with all things moose (It’s a long story), this book was a must buy. Jeffers is a fantastic artist, and he’s written a story that’s highly readable. Wilfred claims a moose that wanders into his back yard, and spends many hours following and chatting with it, only to discover that he’s not the only one who has claimed the moose. It’s a fun little story with an important message: it’s important to share with others. [Amazon]

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

By William Joyce

As a devoted reader and bibliophile, Joyce’s book is one of my favorites to read: Morris Lessmore comes across a house full of living books, and he spends his life taking care of them and sharing their stories with others. It’s a beautifully illustrated and well-written story, about the importance of books and stories. It’s touching, brilliant and one that I read to my son over and over. [Amazon]

The Yellow House

Words by Blake Morrison / Art by Helen Craig

As a science fiction / fantasy / horror reader, I love looking for books that have a light touch with fantasy and unease. The Yellow House is a really good example of a book that blends the fantastic with a light touch. It’s about a girl who visits a yellow house and who is led around by a mysterious boy that shows her fantastic things that live on the grounds. It’s a great story, one that gets more and more fantastical as you read it. It’s definitely in the caliber of Where The Wild Things Are and other, similar books. [Amazon]

Dragons Love Tacos / Secret Pizza Party

Words by Adam Rubin, Art by Daniel Salmieri

When I saw Dragons Love Tacos in the bookstore, I burst out laughing, texted a picture to my wife and promptly picked it up. The book is hilarious, and has step by step instructions for throwing a taco party for dragons who don’t like spicy salsa. Secret Pizza Party is just as funny; a raccoon has an obsession with eating pizza, but who always seems to be chased off before he can really enjoy it. Rubin’s instilled this book with a fantastic voice, and Salmieri’s artwork is just fantastic. [Amazon]

What books would you recommend adding to the reading rotation?