Picture Book 10 for 10: Our 4-Year-Olds Share Their Current Ten Favorite Books #PB10for10


On August 10th each year, the 10 for 10 community celebrates picture books! Check out #pb10for10 on Twitter to see other posts.

Our 4-Year-Olds Share Their Current Ten Favorite Books

These are the five books each that our sons chose when we asked them for their favorite books. We also asked them to say why they love the book.


Peter & Ernesto: A Tale of Two Sloths by Graham Annable

Peter didn’t want to go because he was scared. He was scared because he would have to go to the ocean to get Ernesto. Peter wanted to go on an adventure and see the whole sky, but that would take a long time.

Baby Monkey, Private Eye by Brian Selznick and David Serlin

Baby Monkey saves the day and finds stuff for everyone. And he eats snacks, and I like snacks, too, like Baby Monkey Private Eye. He tries to put his pants on but he does it upside down on his head and that is funny!

Pete the Cat and the Bad Banana by James Dean

Pete the Cat is so silly, and he wins the race. The banana race. There are bad, bad, bad, yucky, mushy, black bananas, but not all bananas are bad. All bananas are not bad, but some are. He ate a bad banana, so he tried other food. Like hot dogs that he had for dinner. For breakfast he couldn’t have a hot dog since he just had one, so he wanted a banana.

Kellee’s note: Trent actually wanted to put multiple Pete the Cat books on the list, and I had him pick his favorite. He loves Pete!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

I love that he turns into a cool butterfly. I like rainbow butterflies. And I like caterpillars, and very hungry caterpillar is a caterpillar.

Race Car Count by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

We count race cars. I like to count just like race car count does. It also says GO and STOP. I like how the cars look. I like the green one because green means GO!


The Super Life of Ben Braver by Marcus Emerson

I love it so, so much because he has the powers! He is super with his powers. I like it also because Ben Braver has the same name as my brother.

The 78-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths

I love the tree. I really like how there is a cow on every page. The book is so funny.

You Choose by Nick Sharratt and Pippa Goodhart

I like to choose all the things that I like. I really like to choose really good things. I like reading it with my mom and dad and Benny because I like choosing with them.

New Shoes by Sara Varon

All of the books by Sara Varon are really cool. The characters are so, so fun.

Harbor Freight Catalogs

I really like them because I like doing some picking. A lot of good things in these. And how did you get that picture? Can I read that one, too?

What books did (do) your 4-year-olds love?


Teaching Tuesday: Teaching My Son to Read (by Ricki) Part II


“Teaching My Son to Read” (by Ricki) Part II (Part I Post: Here)

Forging On

Thank you all for the wonderful advice in the comments section of my last post. I purchased the Mem Fox book and continually remind myself that read-alouds are the most powerful tool to teach a child to read. This has alleviated the pressure, and I feel your company when I roll my eyes when someone mentions, “So when do you think you’ll teach him to read.” In my mind, looking at pictures is reading.

His Pride

But he is really excited about reading. His uncle, who follows this blog, asked him about his reading when we were video-chatting. Ever since then, my son will say things like, “I am going to show Uncle ___ that I read this page.” He’s started feeling a sense of pride in his reading skills.

“Reading Books”

I am not crazy about this term. But my son has started calling the books he reads his “reading books.” (I am not sure what he considers the other books.) It’s provided him the onus of saying things like, “Let’s do all reading books tonight,” or “I don’t want to do any reading books tonight.” Like I said, the term makes me itch a bit, but it’s his term, and I am trying not to use my critical educator framing on him. I am letting him drive the car, and I am focusing intently on not pushing him. If he wants to read and takes pride in the process, I will continue to support it. If not, I will let it go.

More Books

He’s gotten really into the Flip-A-Page series. I brought one home from the library, and he wants more, more, more. (They market all of the books in the series on the back cover.)


These books are really fun (for me, too!). Essentially, they work with the concept of word families. So for the first book pictured, it will introduce the sound of “ake” and then there are cut-outs on the page for both the word and the images. As the reader turns the page, the “ake” sound is repeated, and part of the picture is repeated. My son loves to flip back and forth to look at the transformation. It’s pretty ingenious and highly entertaining for both of us.

More Traditional Early Readers

My son received a bookstore gift card for Easter, and he came upon the Avengers books in the early reader section and wanted them.

I’ll be honest. I would never consider buying these books for my son on his own. Leveling books drives me bonkers (see this anti-lexile post). When he said, “Please can I get this one!” instead of the magnificently beautiful, new picture book that was on the display, I paused for a beat. I knew what was likely in these books, Page 1: “I am superman.” Page 2: “I shoot webs.” But then I remembered my critique of the educators who don’t allow kids to read freely. So we got them. This is how he chose to spend his gift card, and he couldn’t be happier. We are reading the simplistic, obvious descriptions of the superheroes each night. They are improving his reading skills, for sure, and he’s in love with the Marvel illustrations as we read. And I’m improving. I’m reminding myself that kids read what they are interested in. While I may find these books to be soul-crushing in its simplicity and while I may find these books to be wildly boring, my son is avidly devouring them. He begs to read them over and over, and he’s simultaneously loving how they are teaching him new words. I recognize that I must be true to my reader/teacher philosophy that we should let kids read what they want to read.

What’s Next?

As corny as this may sound, I’m not sure. I am letting him be the guide.


Blog Tour with Giveaway and Review!: The Backup Bunny by Abigail Rayner


The Backup Bunny
Author: Abigail Rayner
Illustrator: Greg Stones
Published March 6th, 2018 by NorthSouth Books

Summary: Everybody needs a backup plan, especially when you lose your favorite toy.

When Max loses his favorite toy—Bunny—his clever mom brings out the “backup bunny”—Fluffy—to save the day. Fluffy is thrilled to have the chance to play with Max, but is soon rejected by the observant child who notices that his ears are too new and perky. Can Fluffy find a way into his favorite boy’s heart?

The Backup Bunny will keep you laughing and inspire you to make room for another favorite story.

ReviewThis book truly made me laugh out loud because it made me think of so many stories! First, as a kid, I had LeeLee and Bean Baby who my mom both tried to get duplicates (Blue LeeLee and Talking Bean Baby) yet they never were equal to the originals. Then, as a sister, my sister had Banky and Huggy Bear who both had backups and were not replaceable. Finally, as a mom, Trent has a baby named Gus who, when I saw that Target was no longer going to carry them, I purchased 2 backup Guses, and when the original got super dirty, I decided it was time to try a backup. I said Gus was going to take a bath, and I brought back a new Gus. Trent hugged him but then looked at him in this super quizzical way and said, “Baby Gus has blue eyes?” And I freaked! I assured him that Gus has blue eyes, but then when we went to sleep, I checked the other Gus only to see that the original had brown eyes. That could have gone worse! Blue-eyed Gus is still going strong, but it almost backfired.

But back to the book. As you can tell from my reminiscing, this book is going to connect with everyone on so many different levels. The adult reader will remember their childhood and be nostalgic, the parent will think of their child and be filled with love, and the child reader will think of the toy that they love so much. And all of these feelings are accompanied by a fun-filled story about Fluffy trying so hard to be Bunny when really he just needs to be Fluffy to be loved.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: The Backup Bunny will have a wonderful place in early ed classrooms talking about their important lovies. Having students write about their lovie’s personality would be a perfect early ed creative writing prompt. Fluffy has such a distinct voice, and The Backup Bunny would be a wonderful way to start that conversation about voice and characterization with students both in reading and writing.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How are Fluffy and Bunny different?
  • How did the author give Fluffy a personality that was distinct?
  • Do you have a lovie that is special to you? Tell us about them.
  • In what ways did Fluffy try to be like Bunny? Did it work?
  • What type of socks does Fluffy live with? What does this tell you about that drawer?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Don’t Forget Dexter by Lindsay Ward, Toy StoryCaring for Your Lion by Tammi Sauer

Recommended For: 



Teaching Tuesday: Teaching My Son to Read (by Ricki) Part I


For a few reasons, Kellee and I have decided to break away from Top Ten Tuesday. Don’t worry—we aren’t done with lists! We’ve really enjoyed TTT, and we will miss it, but we are excited for a new Tuesday adventure that is much more aligned with our vision for this blog. We will rotate between individual and shared posts, but you can always guarantee that you will find something teaching-related, about education, about our students, or about books in reference to any of those things on Tuesdays.

“Teaching My Son to Read” (by Ricki)

The Pressure

While I think about classroom teaching every day, I also think a lot about teaching my older son how to read. There’s a lot of pressure to teach our kids to read before they enter kindergarten. I’ve heard it from my mom friends, and I’ve also heard it from random strangers in the grocery store. Everyone seems to have an opinion on when kids should learn to read.

A Child’s Love of Books

What do I value? I value my son’s love of books. I value the fact that today, during dinner, he asked me if I could read to him while he ate. I value that every night, he begs us to let him read just one more book. I value the mornings that I wake up to the sound of pages turning, and I click on the monitor to see him reading quietly in bed while he waits for everyone to wake up.

The Pressure

With this in mind, I have held myself back. I don’t want my son to dislike reading. I’d rather he learn to read after all of his peers if it means that he won’t lose his love of books. If there’s anything I’ve learned as a mom, it’s that I don’t know anything about parenting and am likely making the wrong choices most of the time. I am not sure if I should be doing more sooner or if I should wait for him to tell me that he wants to learn to read.

The Beginning Stages

As we’ve started to work on learning to read, I’ve tried to do several things purposefully. When he was young, we put Wheel of Fortune on the television in the background while he played. He learned all of his letters from this show. Thanks, Wheel of Fortune! When we were in the car or just playing, we sounded out letters. For example, “Look at the sky! What letter does ‘sky’ start with? What other words start with ‘s’?” This helped.

Phonics? Sight Words?

This felt natural, but the actual reading felt trickier. Kids like pictures, and they often prefer the adult to read to them because reading is hard. I also kept going back to my desire to maintain my son’s love of books. I don’t like teaching phonics very much, but then I wondered if I could truly teach my son to read using only sight words. I also began to wonder if we could find a happy medium between learning phonics and sight words.

My Son’s First Book

I came across the BOB Books. I was really, really hesitant to use them because they felt very phonics-y. Essentially, it’s a small square cardboard box that contains 16 or so very short books. Each book works on a different sound, and the picture matches the words exactly (allowing kids to use context clues). I overly prepped my son. To match my insecurities, I kept saying, “And if you don’t like the books, we won’t read them!” and “Let’s just see if we can practice reading. You are so smart!” Well, he loves them. Luckily, they are very short, so we can practice reading a little bit each day. He read an entire book with some support, and my heart was bursting with pride.

What’s Next?

I don’t know what’s next. I don’t know if tomorrow my son will hate the BOB Books and we will have to put them away for good. Luckily, there are so many great books out there that help support reading (e.g. Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss). I teach secondary school reading courses, so this is a new, untraveled path for me. Some of the strategies are similar, but most are quite different. I welcome your advice! What have you learned about teaching kids to read? What can this unabashedly inexperienced mom learn about teaching reading to a four-year-old? Parenting is a humbling experience, but I’ve learned so much about the beginning stages of literacy!


Ten(ish) of Trent’s Favorite Books as of his Fourth Birthday


I cannot believe Trent is four! Time is flying so quickly! He is going into pre-kindergarten next year, he is starting to read sight words, he knows all of his letter sounds, and he is just so inquisitive! I am so proud of the awesome kid that he is.

Like last year, I let Trent be part of choosing the books we would share. If you look at the top left photo, that was us trying to narrow it down. He kept adding more then stopping to read books. It was so hard to get down to ten (and you’ll see we only kind of got down to ten). And this list would have probably been different if I’d asked him yesterday or waited until tomorrow (and this isn’t the books I thought he’d choose), but I let him have complete control.

So without further adieu:

Ten(ish) of Trent’s Favorite Books as of his Fourth Birthday

(In no particular order)

1. Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin & James Dean

Trent says he likes this book because “I like all of it. I like all of the parts like singing.” Then he started reciting the book. I really believe that having the song that goes along with books really sucks him into the book.

2. Baby Monkey Private Eye by Brian Selznick & David Serlin

Trent says he likes this book because “I like all of the stories. And it is funny. Baby monkey can help!” I agree with Trent! Baby Monkey is such a silly book but it is also way funnier and deeper than you first expect it to be.

3. Triangle by Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen

Trent says he likes this book because “I like his short legs. And he walks past triangles and shapes. And then there’s squares. Then triangle is running.” This book was an instant favorite in our house. The perfect Klassen illustrations, the humor, and the repetition definitely help.

4. Hi, Jack! by Mac Barnett and Greg Pizzoli

Trent says he likes this book because “I like Jack taking her bag. But Jack is bad. But when he gives back her purse he’s good.” Trent finds this book hilarious! I think it is going to be a great early reader.

5. Boo Who? by Ben Clanton

Trent says he likes this book because “I like Boo flying. I like Boo hiding.” He roots for Boo all through this book.

6. Fifteen Animals by Sandra Boynton

Trent says he likes this book because “I like his turtle. And I like when you sing it to me.” This book has been around Trent’s whole life. It is a go-to when we sing or read something.

7. Go Dog Go! by P.D. Eastman

Trent says he likes this book because “I like them going to the party in the tree.” Go, Dog, Go! was a favorite of mine when I was younger, and I love that Trent loves it, too.

8. Space books! Including anything Star Wars, Oh No, Astro! by Matt Roeser & Brad Woodard, and Earth! by Stacy McAnulty

In addition to wanting to be a ghost when he grows up, Trent also wants to be an astronaut. Trent says he likes space because “I want to go in space because I want to. I like going to space. I like Mars and the moon. I like the moon because I want to go to the moon.” I also highly recommend a Moon in Your Room if you have a space fan.

9. King Bidgood’s In the Bathtub by Audrey Wood & Don Wood

Trent says he likes this book because “he doesn’t get out of the bathtub because he says get in. He says come in.” This audiobook has singing it in. I really think that music is something that Trent definitely gravitates towards. He also loves the illustrations and points out all of the silly things going on in the bathtub.

10. The Little Shop of Monsters by R.L. Stine

Trent says he likes this book because “I love the monsters because they have horns. And I like listening to it because I love it at the end.” I am so glad I randomly found this audiobook on Hoopla, but I know that when our 9 weeks with the library book ends, I’m going to have to buy this one because it is a pretty constant listen in my car.

Honorary. One Lonely Fish by Andy Mansfield & Thomas Flintham

Trent says he likes this book because “I love it eating the fish.” And I love that this is the first book that he completely reads alone.

Which books are we missing in our lives?


Past “Trent’s Favorite Books” Posts

Kellee and Trent’s Favorite Picture Books: First Three Months

Trent and Kellee’s Favorite Picture Books: Three to Six Months

Trent and Kellee’s Favorite Picture Books: Six to Nine Months

Trent and Kellee’s Favorite Books: Nine to Twelve Months

A First Year Full of Books: Trent’s Journey Through Books
**Check this one out if you haven’t–it is one of my favorite posts ever!**

Trent’s Favorite Books: One to Two Years Old

Ten of Trent’s Favorite Books as of His Third Birthday

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm


The Fourteenth Goldfish
Author: Jennifer L. Holm
Published: April 5, 2016 by Yearling

A Guest Review by Kelsey Iwanicki

Summary: The Fourteenth Goldfish follows the story of Ellie, an 11-year-old girl, who is currently struggling to find her passion, especially following the gradual drop off with her one and only friend, Brianna. However, everything changes when her mother brings home a quirky and crabby 13-year-old boy, Melvin. Ellie notices striking similarities between Melvin and her seventy-something year-old grandfather until he comes clean and tells her that they are in fact the same person. Melvin has worked on developing a drug to reverse the signs of aging, which has successfully worked on himself.

As Ellie and Melvin get closer, they also form an unlikely friendship with a goth student, Raj. Together they give Melvin advice about being a teenager, such as giving him acne medicine and hair elastics. They also help Melvin eventually, after a few failed attempts, steal the same compound that reversed his age. Melvin’s original plan was to steal the gene so he could share it with the world and receive the Nobel Peace Prize. However, Ellie persuaded him not to on the grounds of moral ethics and how scientific impacts can be both positive and negative. Due to this, Melvin flushes the compound down the drain and starts to tour the country. Thanks to her time with her grandfather, Ellie is able to discover his passion in science and also gain a few friends along the way, Raj and Momo.

Review: What I liked most about this book was its quirkiness, mostly exemplified through Melvin. Although the relationship between Ellie and Melvin is untraditional, you can also get glimpses of a typical relationship between a grandfather and granddaughter is like, one that isn’t usually written about. The majority of characters are nontraditional, such as Raj, who is explicitly written as goth; Ellie, a girl scientist (although this is becoming more popular, usually boys are the ones in the STEM fields); and Melvin, as a grumpy 13-year-old.

What I didn’t like about the book was the build-up. Although they failed multiple times at stealing the compound, there was no suspense for when Melvin actually succeeded. Rather, he just came home one day with it. The climax actually was when Ellie had a self-realization that science has both positives and negatives, which honestly was kind of a let down because the plot had focused around getting the compound from the lab. Ultimately, it was a good theme because Ellie realizes there are good and bad things with any passion.

All in all, I did like the book, I think it could appeal to students who are interested in science and realistic fiction books.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book should definitely be included in a classroom library for independent reading because I think it would appeal for students because it is a little quirky and has some interesting characters. It could also prompt some interesting discussions for literature circles because students could discuss the ethics behind using a compound to reverse aging.

A teacher could also use it as a read aloud for a few reasons. It would be interesting to consider the other perspectives of characters such as Melvin or Melissa, Ellie’s mother. Additionally, they could talk about the character traits and what makes Melvin and Ellie such strong characters. Or, they could talk about science and ethics behind what scientists release.

Discussion Questions: If you had a compound that could reverse aging, would you take it? Why or why not?; If you discovered a compound that could reverse aging, would you deliver it to the public? Why or why not?; What do you think will happen to Ellie and Brianna’s friendship? Ellie and Momo’s?; What do you think the side affects are from taking the compound? / What do you think happened to Melvin?; Put yourself in Ellie’s shoes, how would you feel if your grandfather attended the same school as you?; What is the importance of the fourteenth goldfish?

Flagged Passage: “Average people just give up at the obstacles we face every day. Scientists fail again and again and again. Sometimes for our whole lives. But we don’t give up, because we want to solve the puzzle” (p. 47).

Read This If You Loved: El Deafo by Cece Bell; Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt; Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper; Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin; Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones

Recommended For:

Thank you, Kelsey!


Ten of Trent’s Favorite Books as of His Third Birthday


Yesterday was Trent’s third birthday! Can you believe Trent is three?!?!? I can’t! It blows my mind. My baby has grown into an intelligent, independent, potty-trained, Star Wars obsessed, sweet, little boy! Luckily, the love of books has remained through all three years of his life 🙂

This year for our favorite books post, I let Trent choose his favorites as of right now. So, without any further adieu…

Ten of Trent’s Favorite Books as of His Third Birthday

1. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

2. Llama Llama Board Books by Anna Dewdney

3. Chugga Chugga Choo Choo by Kevin Lewis

4. Down By the Bay by Raffi

5. Nibbles: The Book Monster by Emma Yarlett 

6. Brown Bear Brown Bear by Bill Martin, Jr.

7. ABC Universe by American Museum of Natural History

8. Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes

9. Who’s Like Me? by Nicola Davis

10. Pigeon Books by Mo Willems


Honorary. Go Dog Go by P.D. Eastman

Go Dog Go was the book Trent chose to read as the last book before he turned 3. Once a favorite, always a favorite!

Here’s to another year of great books with my wonderful boy!


Past “Trent’s Favorite Books” Posts

Kellee and Trent’s Favorite Picture Books: First Three Months

Trent and Kellee’s Favorite Picture Books: Three to Six Months

Trent and Kellee’s Favorite Picture Books: Six to Nine Months

Trent and Kellee’s Favorite Books: Nine to Twelve Months

A First Year Full of Books: Trent’s Journey Through Books
**Check this one out if you haven’t–it is one of my favorite posts ever!**

Trent’s Favorite Books: One to Two Years Old