There are few things I love doing more with madam than reading. As a lover of books, this is something that I have done with her from her earliest days at home. During those very early days, I found it a wonderful way to bond with her and to pass the day. Snuggled in my arms, she would happily listen to my voice and look at the pictures before her, long before she was able to really comprehend what I was saying to her. Even reading from my own current reading list was something that I would do with her in her infancy. It allowed me to be entertained and kept her engaged, even if she had no comprehension of or interest in a history of the Romanov dynasty. I think that simply the physical closeness and soothing tone of my voice made reading together a favorite activity for her. And being a passionate reader myself, it was and still is an activity that I can do and enjoy with her for hours on end.
As soon as she was able to sit up and hold a book herself, she’s always enjoyed flipping through the pages of her books and “reading”. And as much as I don’t want to wish away the days, I can’t wait till she’s able to actually read all on her own. She’ll be able to immerse herself even more in her books, and I only hope that I can continue to foster and encourage this love. We try to be mindful of the number of toys that we and family buy for her, but when it comes to books, I’m always happy to expand her ever-growing personal library.
Since I always love a good book recommendation, I thought it would be fun to return the favor and share some of my favorite books for madam. These are also some of her favorite books that never fail to capture her and keep her happy, engaged, and entertained.
Eloise by Kay Thompson with Illustrations by Hilary Knight
This classic series was, and will forever be, some of my favorites. Featuring beautiful illustrations and a cheeky narrative about a little girl who lives at the famous Plaza Hotel in New York City with her companions Weenie the dog, Skipperdee the sneaker wearing turtle, and her beloved Nanny, the books have been best sellers for decades. In the multiple additions, Eloise does everything from taking a bath and celebrating Christmas, to travelling to Paris and Moscow.
Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Christina Bjork & Lena Anderson
This is one of my absolute favorite books from childhood that I am so thrilled madam has also come to love. It’s about a little girl named Linnea who takes a trip to visit Paris and takes an excursion to the town of Giverny to visit the home and gardens of Claude Monet. This book made such a huge impression on me as a child, and I fully credit it with being one of the reasons I love Monet and Impressionism so much. It also made going to Giverny to visit the house and garden one of my biggest travel goals. During out French Road trip a few years ago, Darling Husband took me to Giverny, and it was even more spectacular then I had imagined. I’m very much looking forward to the day we can return with madam so she can see the book brought to life.
Lola Dutch and Lola Dutch When I Grow Up by Kenneth and Sarah Jane Wright
The illustrations alone in these books captured both madam and I. They’re seriously stunning. And the stories are just as charming as the drawings of Lola and her adventures with her friends bear, crane, pig, and alligator. With a wonderful imagination and insatiable desire to learn and explore, Lola is a totally darling protagonist.
This Little Piggy Went to Prada by Amy Allen and Illustrations by Eun-Kyung Kang
Billed as nursery rhymes for the Blahnik brigade, these are totally tongue in cheek retellings of classic nursery rhymes with a decidedly fashionable bent. Think Missoni wool bearing black sheep and twinkling diamonds in the sky. Darling Husband may or may not have snorted and rolled his eyes over this one (and the fact that I actually purchased it for myself about a decade before ever getting pregnant), but madam has developed a serious fondness for this decidedly over the top romp of designer name infused nursery rhymes.
She Persisted: 13 American Women who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton and Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger.
Focusing on a wonderfully diverse cast of incredibly inspiring women who have made a major impact on the world, this book is both educational and inspirational. Shown as little girls, it packs a powerful message of being able to persist and accomplish your goals and dreams. Truly a wonderful message to share with any little ones in your life. The follow-up book, She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women who Changed History, is at the top of my to-buy list for madam.
I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy and Illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley
As the title notes, the book is about the incredible and totally iconic United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Much like She Persisted, it encourages perseverance and belief in one self. I’ll be honest, at this point I think I enjoy the book a little bit more than madam as it’s a bit longer on the text, but I have a feeling it will absolutely become one of her favorites as well.
Juno Valentine and the Magical Shoes by Eva Chen and Derek Desierto
I have a major girl crush on former editor and current Instagram fashion boss Eva Chen. When she announced she would be writing a children’s book, I was very excited. So excited in fact, that I got my parents to show up to her book reading and signing a full hour early in Philadelphia to ensure that they would be able to not only snag a signed copy of her book, but also a grab good seat so they could send me pictures to live vicariously through. About an adventurous little girl name Juno Valentine, the book brings the reader along as Juno explores and learns all about a myriad of famous and inspiring women by slipping into the shoes. Filled with oodles of fashion and personal Easter eggs, Chen and Desierto totally knocked it out of the park with this and their follow-up A is for Awesome. Madam can have this read to her back-to-back quite a few times in a row.
Anything by Sandra Boynton
These books are kiddie crack thanks to their simple but fun stories and cute illustrations. Madam especially loves the Little Pookie series of books that are about a silly little piggy and his mummy (she seems to have a thing for pigs), Dinosaurs Dance!, and Moo Baa La La La (which I can sadly recite virtually from memory at this point). These are great for the littlest readers and listeners but still hold madam’s attention at almost three years old. At least one of the many she has is usually read before bedtime or naptime. I have a feeling they’ll also be great books for her to learn to read with since they are short, sweet, and simple.
Little People, Big Dreams by assorted Arthurs and illustrators.
We have quite a few of the books from this series that introduce famous and inspiring women to little readers. Featuring everyone from Josephine Baker, Audrey Hepburn, Coco Chanel, Jane Austen, Frida Kahlo, and more, they present the subject’s story from their days as little girls, to their rise to fame. The themes focus on overcoming adversity, embracing and encouraging talents, and persevering.
Baby Lit’s series of classic books reworked for little ones by Jennifer Adams and Illustrated by Allison Oliver.
With each book focused on a different skill or subject (think counting, shapes, colors, weather, emotions, and even foreign languages like French and Spanish) classic stories like Emma, Les Misérables, Romeo and Juliette, Wuthering Heights become accessible and enjoyable to even the youngest readers. I can’t think of a better way to introduce the literary greats like Tolstoy, Shakespeare, Austin, Poe, Homer, and so many more than with this colorful and totally charming series of books.
Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio and Illustrated by Christian Robinson.
Whimsically illustrated, Gaston is about a little pup who is a bit different from his rambunctious siblings. With the message of being true to oneself, it’s a delightful story with a valuable message. The follow-up book, Antoinette, is just as adored for reading time as Gaston.
Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert
I’ll admit, I had a bit of an ulterior motive when I picked up this colorful and cheerful book that highlights different fruits and veggies through the alphabet. Not only would it help madam learn her alphabet, it would also highlight lots of different fruits and veggies for her to be interested in. When we read this, she likes to point out the different things she enjoys eating and I make a point of highlighting the items that are quite yummy and she should try. I admit it, I am not above vegetable propaganda.
Claris: The Chicest Mouse in Paris by Megan Hess.
I first came across Megan Hess’s work as a fashion illustrator who has partnered with some of my favorite luxury fashion houses and brands. When I discovered she had written and illustrated a children’s book set in Paris, I ordered it right away. With absolutely gorgeous illustrations and some fun name dropping, the book is a about a sweet little mouse who follows her dreams and passions in the City of Lights. The additional message of being kind and considerate only served to make me love this book all the more.
So Many Stars and A is for Andy by Mudpuppy and with Illustrations by Andy Warhol.
Madam LOVES these books! Featuring illustrations by Andy Warhol, they are totally captivating and utterly charming. I actually picked these up before she was born and started reading them to her during those first few days at home. Even almost three years later, she’s still just as delighted with them as she was when I first introduced them to her.
Quiet Time with Cassatt, Dancing with Degas, and A Picnic with Monet by Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober.
It’s probably quite obvious, I love finding books for madam that introduce her to the world of art. It obviously stems from my own love of art that my parents nurtured from a very early age. Some of my earliest memories are at the Philadelphia Art Museum. My parents would walk me around, pointing out different works, and asking me what I saw and thought of them. Sometimes, they would find a quiet gallery where I could sit with a little sketch book and pastels, and make my own creations based on the masterpieces in front of me.