Our Favorite Bedtime Stories

Our family has been reading picture books on a daily basis for a VERY long time.  Between the daycare kiddos that used to hang out with us, the multitude of foster children, and our own three girls, we have read many, many different stories over the years.  Todd also spent several years working at a bookstore and Melissa briefly sold books through a multi-level marketing company.

Needless to say, we have some fairly strong opinions about children’s picture books.  We have many favorites.  Several of those are about animals.  And most of them are just a little bit naughty, yet very lovable.  Listed here are our favorite picture books to read aloud to kids, with animals as the main characters.

1. Tacky the Penguin

Unlike all the other penguins on the iceberg, Tacky just cannot ever seem to get things quite right.  But everyone loves him anyway.  There are many Tacky books out there, and they are all very funny.  For all of us awkward people out there, Tacky is a kindred spirit.

2. Skippyjon Jones


Skippyjon Jones is a Siamese cat who thinks he is a Chihuahua.  He is forever going on an adventure in his closet which can be read about  in any one of the many books written about him.  As a bonus, the author loves to incorporate tongue twisters and just the right amount of Spanish, so these are really fun to read out loud.

3. Pete the Cat


Pete the Cat is a jazzy sort of guy.  Many of his books can be sung or rapped–including this one.  Pete has a positive attitude, which we like, and he likes to solve problems with creativity and the help of his friends.  Sometimes we even dance while reading about Pete.

4. Olivia


Long before Olivia was a cartoon character, she was the star 0f storybooks.  Modeled in part after a real little girl, Olivia is a pig that knows what she wants.  As the parents of three girls, we can see many of Olivia’s personality characteristics in real life every day.

5. Officer Buckle and Gloria

Officer Buckle gives safety speeches that bore his audience wherever he goes.  When Gloria the dog joins the police department and assists Officer Buckle, things get much more interesting.  This book is filled with fun, detailed drawings that show the real personality of Gloria.

6. Gregory, the Terrible Eater


Todd fell in love with this book when he was a kid and then forgot about it.  Until one of the girls brought it home from the library.  Now it is a favorite for the whole family.  When Gregory the goat refuses to eat junk and insists on consuming “healthy” food, his parents bring him to the doctor.  Eventually, they resort to creative means and a happy compromise.

7. Bad Kitty


Since we have a bad cat in our family, this book is especially funny for us.  Our cat and Bad Kitty have a lot in common.  As a bonus, this book is educational.  Jocelyn learned her alphabet, in part, from reading Bad Kitty.

8. Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse


Kevin Henkes has authored and illustrated many children’s books, and this is our favorite.  Lilly goes to school with gifts from her grandmother, and a lack of self control with them gets her in trouble.  Lilly’s story gives us an opportunity to talk about the appropriate expression of feelings with kids.

9. Duck for President

There are several books about Duck out there, and they are all good.  This is a favorite, though.  The illustrations include cultural references to various past presidencies.  And, considering it is an election year, this Duck for President is timely.

10. The Gruffalo


It is hard to resist a scary forest creature that actually looks like you could snuggle up with him.  This story shows how a little mouse outwits several predators, all with a fun song-like rhyme.

11. Elinor and Violet


These two chickens get into all kinds of trouble together.  The book discusses peer pressure in a way that small children can understand.  The author uses a few long, descriptive words, too.  Which is how we ended up with a three-year old who could use “indelible” correctly in a sentence.

What are your favorite picture books?  Let us know in an email or comment below!

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