It all started with "The Going to Bed" Book...

It seemingly happens overnight.

You wake up one day, and your child has a few toys, a few books, a few blankets, a few stuffed animals.

The next day - THE VERY NEXT DAY - you wake up and your multiple children have mounds of toys and thousands of books and blankets enough to soothe an small country and stuffed animals multiplying in the dark corners of the closet.

Sometimes, this realization induces shock. When we were preparing to move from Our Big Lake House to Our Tiny Townhouse a few years back, I walked into the kids' playroom and gaped at the amount of toys we had accumulated in four years. (It also triggered a major purging project. But that's a story for another day.)

Sometimes, it prompts new rules. After our last move, I firmly told all extended family members, "No more stuffed animals. We have too many, and they are rarely played with. If you persist in giving me or one of my children a soft furry creature, I will donate it to Goodwill or eat it for dinner."

But sometimes, it reveals an addiction too delightful to battle. Such is the case with children's books and me.

When Natalie was a toddler, her board books fit on a small shelf on top of her dresser. We added to the collection when Connor was a baby, but even then, the books could fit into a basket that rested next to the rocking chair.

Then we started our weekly outings to the library, where I found myself falling in love with books like "The Pumpkin Fair" and "Slugs in Love" and "The Gardener." We didn't have a decent bookstore in Tiny Town, but Amazon and its lure of free shipping substituted nicely.

Then Natalie started school, and the Scholastic catalog became a monthly staple. I was almost helpless before the $1 deal of the month, the whimsical titles, the seasonal offerings.

These days, we have a rather large bookshelf devoted to children's books ranging from board books to chapter books, and it is packed with awesomeness. So asking me to choose one or two children's books to recommend is like asking the Pioneer Woman to choose her favorite recipe.

Since I'm linking this post to O My Book week at O My Family (run by my real-life friend Allison), I'm going to think about what books I'd most like to read her sweet son. And when thus confined, my selection is simple: I'd choose anything by the delightful Sandra Boynton.

I believe it was "The Going to Bed Book" which first captivated me. It follows the antics of an ark of animals as they go through their bedtime rituals. (My favorite? "When the moon is on the rise, they all go up to EXERCISE.") Her whimsical illustrations are simple enough to hold a toddler's attention without overwhelming them, and her lyrical verses are sweet and funny enough to entertain Moms and Dads forced to read the book every night for two years straight.

I was so hooked by "The Going to Bed Book," I bought two boxed sets of Boynton books for Natalie's second birthday.

"Boynton's Greatest Hits, Volume 1" includes classics like "Moo, Baa, La, La, La" and "Blue Hat, Green Hat" and "A to Z" and "Doggies." (When Connor was two, he had memorized "Doggies" so well, he could read it to himself, complete with individual doggie sound effects. "Ruff! Grrr. Howl!")

"Boynton's Greatest Hits, Volume 2" includes the before-mentioned "Going to Bed Book," as well as "Horns to Toes" and "Opposites" and "But Not the Hippopotamus."

We also have many other Boynton hits like "Snuggle Puppy," which became something of a theme book for Connor and me, and "Pajama Time," which doubles as a jazzy bedtime dance tune, and "What's Wrong Little Pookie?" in which a concerned mother hippo tries to figure out what's bothering her Little Pookie. (Punchline? "Ummm. I forget.")

Bonus tip: Be sure to check out Boynton's CDs, which put some of her most beloved rhymes to song. We own "Philadelphia Chickens" - which Boynton describes as an "imaginary musical review" - and it's a classic.


  1. We absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE Sandra Boynton. We have more of her books than I can count. And I think the songs that go with her books are priceless!
    I have a video on my blog of Mookie howling to the Doggies book. We turned the "What's Wrong Little Pookie?" into "What's Wrong Little Mookie?" (and Mookie calls it "Mookie Sad?") :o)
    She's a great artist and writer. Makes reading fun! :o)

  2. Oooh, Snuggle Puppy of mine - everything about you is especially fine!

    The CD "Rhinoceros Tap" is not to be missed. Run! Do not walk - and buy yourself a copy.

  3. Ooohhh...I LOVE "Blue Hat Green Hat". :) I giggled the first time I read it in the store (by myself) and giggle whenever I read it to my son and hear him say "OOPS!". :)

  4. Some of my friends introduced me to Boynton this past year, and I (and my two-year-old Joy) fell in love. "Hippos Go Berserk" is our current favorite, borrowed from the library so many times I'm really starting to think I need to just buy it. Interestingly enough, she hates the music (I bought "Rhinoceros Tap" for Christmas, but no go), but I'm hoping that changes as she gets older.

    "Night Night, Little Pookie" is another great one. So many good choices!

  5. I LOVE Sandra Boynton. I think our first one was Red Hat, Blue Hat but we quickly accumulated quite a collection. I also want to second the previous commenter's recommendation of Rhinoceros Tap. It is just as good as Philadelphia Chickens, if not better. My favorite song on it is "Oh, Lonely Peas." Hilarious.

  6. Love her! The Going to Bed Book was a staple with my first child too. But Not the Hippopotamus is my favorite. You can never have too many books. :)

  7. Beatrix falls asleep every night to the "Dog Train" CD. It's a must.

    We also have "Philadelphia Chickens" too, but "Dog Train" rules supreme with my kids.

    I think my favorite book is "Blue Hat, Green Hat." It's so simple, it's genius.

  8. Beatrix falls asleep every night to the "Dog Train" CD. It's a must.

    We also have "Philadelphia Chickens" too, but "Dog Train" rules supreme with my kids.

    I think my favorite book is "Blue Hat, Green Hat." It's so simple, it's genius.

  9. We love her books too. For awhile, I left out the "exercise" line for fear that my kids would want to hop out of bed and do just that =) Now I'm more brave...

  10. YAAY! Love Sandra Boynton. I miss her now that my kids are too big, and we no longer have any of her books :(

    Also, do you like the Max and Ruby books? We only had two of those, but they cracked me up. Max is just so unrepententant, always.

  11. So, I'm the odd one who hasn't read these! We LOVE books too but we love free books from grandparents (or Dolly Parton! Ha!). I'll have to check them out and see if we can get some!

    And what a great idea about the stuffed animals! I seriously hate them! I NEVER buy them but we seem to have quite a few. I attempted to bag them up about a month ago and then my 18 mth old started asking for "Mi-mouse" and then next was my 3 yr old asking for Curious George... and I thought they wouldn't even know. The giant red and white puppy they got for VDay one year and Eyore are still tucked away.. soon to be gone!

  12. Agreed-- Sandra Boyton is awesome!
    I used to sing Snuggle Puppy to my son every night. Precious memories.

    Love your blog, glad I found it.
    Feel free to stop by:


  13. Kelly,

    We LOVED the Going to Bed Book! That was memorized and read in a variety of tones, finally deciding which one I liked the best. Another book I had about memorized was Are You My Mother? as well as Green Eggs and Ham. I miss reading those books but as the kids have gotten older, we have had many adventures with other characters. We love the Lamplighter books ( as well as historical fiction. As your kids get older, you'll have to read those as well as The Viking Quest series. Our bookshelves (plural) are filled and I realized we needed to try only to buy those books not found in the library, like the ones I just mentioned above.
    Love & blessings,
    Lori Noel