I love a sweet new baby as much as the next person, but when it comes to reading, I’ll take the smelly second graders any day of the week. They’re still young enough to sit still for a picture book or two, but old enough to catch all the smaller details. As my kids get older, I’ve been finding some books that we read years ago are finally getting the love they deserve. Here are four picture books that have grown so much more enjoyable as my children age:
The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash by Trinka Hakes Noble and Steven Kellogg. I loved this book as a child and couldn’t wait to introduce it to my own children. The story of a field trip gone awry starts at the very end and works its way to the beginning, so it’s really best appreciated by a reader old enough to enjoy the suspense and humor of the backward narrative.
Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton and Tom Lichtenheld has been a favorite at our house for years. Who wouldn’t love a competition between a shark and a train that gets more and more outlandish as the book progresses? Even though our oldest has been requesting this book since he was in diapers, he is just now getting all of the jokes. It has been fun to watch him discover the humor in the book and try to explain it to his siblings.
Three Pigs by David Wiesner speaks to the part of me that loves a good literary device. What starts as the traditional nursery rhyme turns to an imaginative exploration of narrative and space as the three pigs are blown right out of their own story. I have practiced amazing restraint and not forced a conversation with my kids on suspension of disbelief or the nature of derivative works, but just barely. (They have so much to look forward to in this family.)
Chester by Mélanie Watt is another book that has always been loved by all the children in the house. A nice story about a mouse is hijacked by Chester the cat and his big red marker. My middle child loves nothing more than to change stories to be about her, so she has found a kindred spirit in Chester. His additions to the story are even funnier to a child who can identify where and how Chester changes the story by reading along.