Your best friend’s kid (or your own) may not be as wildly anticipated and crazily commemorated as little George Alexander Louis, but he or she still deserves a creative stack of books to curl up with at night. Everyone loves Dr. Seuss, but at this point many parents could recite The Cat in the Hat in their sleep. Luckily a new crop of authors have taken up Theo Geisel’s mantle, with books fantastic, funny and, in some cases, even edible!
1. I Want My Hat Back and This is Not My Hat, by Jon Klasson. Klasson has truly cornered the market on tales of hat-based animal death—which isn’t to say his stories are grim or scary. On the contrary, these gorgeously illustrated books manage to be funny without gilding the lily regarding the natural appetites of grizzly bears.
2. Potty, by Leslie Patricelli. Ah, the potty: that tiny little pitstop of despair for so many parents. Potty follows a little boy’s matter-of-fact decision to give it a try one day with a light-hearted flair that seems to delight kids who remain very much on the fence about giving up their diapers. By the time underpants make an appearance, toddlers will already be screaming, Again!
3. Books Are For
Eating Reading, by Suzy Becker. In Hollywood, titles like this one are called “high-concept,” and this one pretty much says it all. Becker’s book, which is reinforced with delectable red rubber corners, will reliably end up lodged in a teething baby’s mouth. By the time you manage to pry it out, you’ll have a damn good explanation of why books aren’t for eating.
4. Monkey World ABC, by Matthew Porter. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’ve all seen alphabet books before. A is for Apple, B is for Banana, Z is for Zzzzzzzz. Porter yanks the alphabet into the twenty-first century and reminds us that, yes, every profession in the world starts with a letter. Even weird professions! The super-cute and occasionally downright metrosexual monkeys of Monkey World provide us with a full alphabet workout. H is for Hula Hooper, D is for Disc Jockey, and (my personal fave) Y is for Yoga Instructor.
5. We Are in a Book, by Mo Willems. This book spends more time breaking the fourth wall than an episode of House of Cards. Piggie not only addresses you directly, he enlists you as a coconspirator to keep Elephant’s spirits from plunging as he confronts the inevitable truth: this book is going to end. A fantastic way to spend the evening. Also, great preparation should your toddler decide to major in semiotics or experimental theater.
Alina Simone is the author most recently of Note to Self.
What’s your pick for a creative bedtime book?