Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Favorite Picture Books and Audios for Kindergarten :: On Xavier's Shelves

I've been wanting to put together something on this topic for ages but documenting Xavier's kindergarten shelves finally spurred me on!

Before this school year began, I pulled some of my very favorite picture books onto a couple special shelves for reading aloud to Xavier during his kindergarten year.  These are ones I read to my older three over and over, and I wanted to make sure I hit them all with him as well.  The nice thing about these is that of course they span a variety of ages.  So the Baby Girls (ages 4 and almost-3) happily join us too, as does my first-grader.  (And who am I kidding--my Big Kids eagerly listen in on most of these as well!)

This list is not meant to be exhaustive.  I'm sharing what is on Xavier's kindergarten shelves right now.  There are lots of other wonderful books that are not!

(I'm also not duplicating the AmblesideOnline Year 0 list.  The ones I have linked here are our family recommendations; the ones listed but not linked can be found on the AO Year 0 page.)

Picture Books

If I could only choose two fiction books for kindergarten, they would be:

But his shelves hold more than just those...

Eloise Wilkin Stories (THE most requested picture book in our home over the years)
Virginia Lee Burton - Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel, Katy and the Big Snow, The Little House, Calico the Wonder Horse, Choo Choo, Maybelle the Cable Car
Don Freeman - Corduroy, Dandelion
Robert McCloskey - Make Way for Ducklings, One Morning in Maine, Blueberries for Sal
Marjorie Flack - Wait for William, Ask Mr. Bear, the Angus books, The Story about Ping
Bemelmans' Madeline books (we have both Mad About Madeline, which collects the original six books, and the same books in individual copies just because we love them so!)
H.A. Ray's original Curious George books
Barbara Cooney - Ox-Cart Man and Miss Rumphius (two all-time favorites of mine)
Beatrice de Regniers' May I Bring a Friend?  
Margaret Wise Brown - The Little Island, The Little Fireman
Elsa Beskow's Pelle's New Suit
Tony Johnston's Yonder
Wanda Gag's Millions of Cats
Margaret Mahy's 17 Kings and 42 Elephants
Esphyr Slobodkina's Caps for Sale
John Vernon Lord's The Giant Jam Sandwich
Arlene Mosel's Tikki Tikki Tembo
Jean de Brunoff's original Babar books
Lois Lenski's "Small" and "Little" books - Cowboy Small, Policeman Small, The Little Train, and more

And a few more in specific genres...

Folk Songs (Xavier's personal favorite) - Fox Went Out on a Chilly NightYou're a Grand Old FlagThe Glorious American SongbookThe Star-Spangled BannerFrog Went A CourtinThe Rooster Crows ... (I've documented well our love for folk song picture books if you're interested in more!)

Non-Fiction Picture Books - the Smithsonian backyard series (my oldest son particularly likes reading him these)

Poems and Rhymes collections that have as lovely illustrations as they do text - Lavender's BlueThe Glorious Mother GooseThe Barefoot Book of Classic Poems


Cate and Xavier listen to a bit of an audiobook most days of the week.  Here are the ones we're hitting this year:

:: Beatrix Potter collection, read by Nadia May
:: Winnie-the-Pooh collection, read by Peter Dennis
:: A Bear Called Paddington and More About Paddington, both read by Stephen Fry
:: Little House collection, read by Cherry Jones (this is one AO free read that I don't save for the scheduled years--my littles have listened through several times along with the older kids)
:: a few Jim Weiss CDs: Uncle Wiggly's Storybook, Tell Me a Story, Animal Tales, Famously Funny, Arabian Nights, Giants!  (I avoid the ones that are retellings of books we'll be reading later on for AO, which is why I only have selected ones listed here)
:: records from Arts Reformation, including Mother Goose Songs, A Child's Introduction to the Orchestra, and more
:: Peter and the Wolf narrated by David Bowie, along with The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra and The Carnival of the Animals
:: Catholic Children's Librivox (I'll admit I am not a huge Librivox fan, but it is nice to have these religious books available!)


  1. Love your list!! Some favs there and some unknowns:)
    Didn't know about Catholic librivox!! so much thanks!! hopefully I can download them in our country.
    You mention your children listen to audio books daily, how long for? I admit audios is an area we haven't delved into much but more due to my technical challenges than the children's interest.

    (btw thanks to you we've just had exam week, used your sharings to jumpstart, must share a post, thanks!:)

    1. My Y1 and kinder kids listen to an audio for about 20 minutes while I do a Y4 reading with my older kids, so three days a week (we school four days a week, but they like to sit in on Shakespeare day :)).

    2. Oh, and so glad you had an exam week. We are gearing up for Week 12 next week so I have to get our next set of exams ready to go very soon!

  2. What a wonderful list, Celeste! :) I need to open up my library page and get a few of these! :) We recently read Circus Caps for Sale also...a fun variation on Caps for Sale! We LOVE The Giant Jam Sandwich. I had forgotten about that one! Most our books are packed away for showing our home. Yonder...swoon! My 6yo is LOVING Jim Weiss' Just So Stories Audio book. Since I'd read it 3x already ;), I thought I'd let Jim Weiss handle it for me. Oh my. Books. *sigh* ;)

    1. We love Jim Weiss' Just-So Stories also. I am using his audio with my Y1 student this year for her scheduled Just-So readings, so I don't play it for Xavier--I want to save it for him for next year when he is in Y1. It is such a good one!

  3. I didn't realize that Stand Back, Said the Elephant... and The Duchess Bakes a Cake have the same author! Fun! We own and LOVE Stand Back and have checked out The Duchess Bakes a Cake before and really enjoyed that as well. :)

    Thank you for sharing this! I'm promptly putting some on hold! :)

    We aren't huge librivox fans oldest can't stand the way some of the people read. Maybe if Mama wasn't *so* expressive in *her* readings!???? ;o) I've set her expectations too high! LOL

    1. They actually don't have the same author, Catie, and I am sorry to have misled you--I just forgot to add the author's name for Stand Back, so it was just hanging out there under Virginia Kahl's books! LOL I updated the post to add her name.

      Yeah, Librivox is really hit or miss. I so appreciate the service and the variety of offerings, but I rarely find versions I can actually stomach. LOL We get most of our audiobooks from the library, but I'm looking to build our own collection little by little as there are some we return to quite often.

    2. I've actually thrown around the idea of reading for Librivox. It just sounds fun. I even bought a microphone... if I could only make the time! :)

      You've probably mentioned this before, but do you subscribe to Audible? I can never decide if it would be worth it or not. :)

    3. I too really enjoy reading aloud--it would be fun to be a Librivox reader! I'm guessing the listeners wouldn't appreciate a bunch of kid chaos in the background though, and I can't seem to escape that here! LOL

      I don't subscribe to Audible but have been thinking about it lately to grab a few of our favorites fairly cheaply. I prefer owning our audios as CDs/mp3s, though, so that I'm not tied to the Audible playback mechanism. For now, I've just been putting our library favorites on the Christmas wishlist I give to my mom. :)

    4. I used to be a big fan of Librivox, but over time I've gotten tired of the vast variety of skill and technological set-ups of the users. I sometimes think about reading for Librivox (I've even recorded a few chapters of one book for it) but haven't managed to figure out how to not only find the time, but also the quiet time to do it! I also would love to set up a site where people could rate the Librivox recordings and leave reviews.... contrary to the spirit of Librivox, I know, but wouldn't that be helpful??

      BTW, you can download mp3's of Audible books and not play them through the Audible player. However, you do still have to have the device/computer registered with Audible to play it. But we were able to put the Audible mp3s on cheap mp3 players for the kids when I was really sick w/ my last pregnancy and couldn't *gasp* read aloud for a couple months.

      And we had The Giant Jam Sandwich at our rental in Palmer, Alaska and loved it! I had never seen it before that. I read that several times a day while we were there. That and the Beatrix Potter books I brought... and Winnie-the-Pooh stories at bedtime. I only travel with the best. *grin* I have a not so great iPhone photo of me reading Benjamin Bunny with the youngest three in my lap or next to me at the Seattle airport, with the older two looking on in the background. It is such a great memory already.

  4. Oh and have you seen H.A. Rey's Curious George Alphabet book? That one is a favorite! Do you guys enjoy Seven Silly Eaters? We've worn through a few copies. My children like Babar also!

    1. Yes, that is one of my favorite alphabet books too--sweet and clever. And Seven Silly Eaters has been an especial favorite this year while we still have seven children...but thankfully mine are not quite so demanding! LOL I love a well-done rhyming picture book, and Mary Ann Hoberman is great at that.

    2. I love the backgrounds of the pictures in the Seven Silly Eaters too - I think the illustrator did such a great job showing the mom's intellectual life and the challenges of the growing family.

    3. I agree--the illustrations are very fun. Love mom playing cello in the background! <3

  5. Wonderful list with lots of favorites! I heartily agree with the 'top two' of Potter and Pooh. One could live long with littles on just those marvelous two. Do you have Roxaboxen? It's another Barbara Cooney, and perhaps my favorite of hers. And my grown girls were delighted to see someone else likes 'May I Bring a Friend?" :-)

    1. We have read Roxaboxen from the library but do not own it. Actually, I haven't even read it in ages because I haven't been using the library for picture books as much as usual; I have been trying just to read from our collection. I will have to add it to the kids' Christmas wishlist I give to my your reminder comes just in time! :)

    2. My children read and play Roxaboxen all the time. It is a special book here. =) That one and The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant. But then our family is from the South, so maybe we just have a different connection to it.

      Your list looks very similar to the read over and over again books in our home. Except Babar. I've never read those.

      Jim Weiss' Just So is good, huh? I normally really like reading that one aloud. But I've done it a few times now and might have to check that out for next Y1 go through. You had recommend Cherry Jones for Little House and she is wonderful! That is a series I normally preferred to read aloud. But after two times through I did break down and switch to Cherry Jones. My kiddos just want to hear it so much.

      Also, we are going to buy that Dirt Devil Broom Vac you recommended. You should hook that up to your amazon get money back thingy. It's in your comments of the post where you have your chore list. If we like it my sister is going to order one too. So you could get money back at least twice. =) Thanks for the recommendation.

    3. Yes, Jim Weiss' Just-So is unabridged and very good. I too really enjoy reading that one aloud (it's my favorite of the Y1 list!) but I use it on busy weeks. And my kids are the same about Little House--Cate and Xave would be happy if all I ever played was the Little House series on rotation. :) I remember being the same way when I was a kid.

      I'm glad to hear you all have the same favorites, but I am not surprised! :)

      And thank you for recommending that I link the vacuum. I will do that now over on the comments of my chores post. ;) I hope you guys have as good an experience with it as we have. We have to replace it every year because it gets so much use, but for $20, it is such a strong little machine! It's better than any of the others we have tried!

    4. Virginia Lee - we LOVE Roxaboxen also! Have any of you read Weslandia? My kids love that book as well! :)

    5. We have not Weslandia. I will have to check that out. Thank you. =)

  6. My youngest daughter enjoyed a number of the stories/books you listed. She especially loved the Beatrix Potter stories and Winnie the Pooh. She still reads the Winnie the Pooh books in fact. We have a big hardback edition of Beatrix Potter's stories. It has been read over and over and over again. :)

    1. My very favorite series to read aloud is Beatrix Potter. If I could do an English accent well, I would, but it's lovely all the same. :) But that and Pooh are just perfect children's books.

  7. WOW! Great list! I love it. I might have to add that into our curriculum/home life with my 8, 8, 5, 4, 2 & 3month old. We love picture books & books on CD are amazing while I am trying to work/write. And, its always nice to expand our bed/nap time story list. :)
    Would you want to/could you write a day in the life for us all to read? I would love to see just how you balance it all.
    Thanks for all the blogging you do--I love seeing it all!

    1. Thank you! I do have a post that addresses my schedule somewhat, though it's a bit outdated now--I think I wrote it a couple kids ago? ;) But here it is in case it's helpful:

      I will have to write an updated day in the life soon!

  8. Oh! I've been wanting to put together a list of books and audio for Christmas lists, since that will be here soon. (please no more toys!) Thanks for the recommendations!

    1. I agree--please, no more toys! :) I am so glad to have family willing to buy off of book and clothing wishlists for my kids or we would be positively drowning in toys around here!