Kids Picks…or the Books I Can Recite in My Sleep

In the process of choosing a theme for the May Book Nook, I considered reviewing books that showcase the delightful relationships kids have with their mothers since Mother’s Day is on May 12. But then I thought to myself, my kids probably aren’t going to remember Mother’s Day exists unless I point it out with neon lights. So May really isn’t about me. And if your kids are anything like mine, it’s not about you or your partner either. It’s still about them.

So for your enjoyment—or at the very least your kids’ enjoyment—and in no particular order, here are seven of my children’s favourite books. And yes, I can probably recite them to you word for word.

Mix It Up! by Hervé Tullet (Chronicle Books, 2014). In this interactive book, your children will learn all about colours and what happens when you mix different ones together. As you flip through the pages, Tullet encourages your child to smoosh, tilt, and smear the pictures of paint across the pages. It’s like messy paint play, but without the actual mess. Really it’s a win-win. For ages 2 to 6.

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100 Hungry Monkeys by Masayuki Sebe (Kids Can Press, 2014). In this cute counting story, 100 hungry monkeys go looking for food. However, they don’t count on a monster following them when they try to eat the food they find.

Every page is filled with 100 monkeys for your child to count and study. Your kids can spend ages staring at all of the monkeys while they try to figure out what each one is doing—some of those silly monkeys are always lifting something heavy or riding a horse. But, even after staring at each page intensely, they will still probably find something new every time they open up the book. For ages 2 to 6.

Playtown Emergency: A Lift-The-Flap Book by Roger Priddy and illustrated by Dan Green (Priddy Books, 2014). In this bright and colourful board book, your kids can learn all about the heroes of Playtown from Fire Chief Jen to Nurse Jamie.
But that isn’t all. The book is also full of information about the different trucks firefighters and police officers drive, what happens at an airport in an emergency, how animals help rescue people from the mountains, and so much more. For ages 0 to 4.

Truck Stop by Anne Rockwell and illustrated by Melissa Iwai (Viking Books for Young Readers, 2013). This is a great book to read if you have any young truck lovers in your house. Every morning the main character in this story helps his parents get their truck stop ready to serve all of the regulars’ breakfast. And he loves it.

However, on this morning there’s a problem. Green Gus doesn’t show up like he usually does. All of the regulars are worried about their friend and hope to find him. For ages 3 to 7.

Violet the Pilot: Her Inventions Will Take Her Sky High! by Steve Breen (Puffin Books, 2016). Violet VanWinkle is an inventor. She loves inventing flying machines even though it means the other kids in her school think she’s weird. She does wish they would learn to understand her someday.

One day Violet sees an advertisement for an air show. This could be her chance. Violet decides to enter the competition, because she hopes the kids from her school will be nice to her if she wins a ribbon. As I’m sure you can imagine, things don’t go the way she planned, but Violet still learns a valuable lesson about acceptance and self-love. For ages 4 to 8.

Neon Leon by Jane Clarke and illustrated by Britta Teckentrup (Nosy Crow, 2018). Like Mix It Up! this is an interactive book about colours. However, that is where the similarities end. In this book, you and your child follow Leon, a neon orange chameleon, as he tries to blend in. But he can’t blend into the green jungle or the grey mountains, which makes his family very annoyed. So Neon Leon leaves the other chameleons to find somewhere he can hide. For ages 2 to 5.

Disney’s Princess Treasury (Disney Press, 2001). I know this book is a bit older than the ones I usually review, but my four-year-old son adores the stories in here. In this book, you and your child can read about Cinderella, Ariel, Snow White, Belle, and Aladdin. The stories, which are condensed versions of the movies, are illustrated with stills from the films. These were the first chapter books we introduced to my son, and it is still the only chapter book he wants to read. For ages 4 to 10.

And there you have it, seven books for you to read with your kids. Maybe if you are lucky you can read them with your children as you’re munching on the Mother’s Day breakfast they brought you in bed. I however will be reading these books to my kids before bed. Then, maybe I’ll get to enjoy some ice cream by myself as a treat for Mother’s Day.

Christina Van Starkenburg is a freelance writer and mother of two young boys. You can read about their adventures at

Christina Van Starkenberg
Christina Van Starkenberg
Christina Van Starkenburg lives in Victoria with her husband, children, and cat. She is the author of One Tiny Turtle: A Story You Can Colour and many articles. To read more of her work and learn about her upcoming books, check out her website at