My Favorite Books to Read to Sloan

Our family's top 16 stories guaranteed to make you laugh and cry.
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Last week, G and I were lucky enough to get to read to Sloan's class, and it was so special. To see her interact with her little friends and witness how confident and smart she's becoming was such an honor. For our visit, we rounded up some of our favorite stories from The Book With No Pictures to A Unicorn Named Sparkle, but there were truly so many great options we could have picked from. Classics aside, here are 16 books guaranteed to make you laugh and cry at your nightly story time (or gift to a friend with little ones):

Little Owl Lost by Chris Haughton: This is such a sweet book that we used to read when she was really little. It's about an owl who has lost his mom and all the animals that help him find his way home.

Vader's Little Princess by Jeffrey Brown: This is arguably G's favorite book to read to Sloan. I think it's a secret ploy to get her into Star Wars, but it really is a creative, funny book. Written in comic book style, the story has Darth Vader and his daughter interacting over father-daughter things: brushing the backs of your teeth and how to fly a TIE fighter. You know, normal family stuff. 

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg: This is one of those nostalgic books that I love to read around Christmas. It reaffirms the belief in magic as an adult and is such a special moment to share with a child.

If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Numeroff: A silly little book that Sloan used to ask for every night, the story is about a mouse who begins asking for a cookie and ends up wanting a series of other things (hair trimming, a glass of milk, etc.). It's funny, sweet, and simple.

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn: Even talking about this book makes me tear up to this day. Someone suggested we read it before Sloan started preschool to prepare her, but I hadn't anticipated how much it would help me. The premise is a raccoon mom sending her child to school for the first time, and she gives him a kissing hand (a kiss on the palm of his hand), and closes it, so that he can know her love is with him always. 

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson: Written by a playwright, this book reads in the loveliest way due to its rhyming. It tells the story of a mouse avoiding dangers in the forest and it eventually encounters the gruffalo, a huge, scary monster. Being cunning, the mouse tricks the gruffalo into thinking he is the toughest in the forest. Small but mighty is the key message here. 

Ella Bella Ballerina and Cinderella by James Mayhew: As someone with a daughter who's obsessed with both classic fairy tales and ballet, this is an excellent option. It's about a little ballerina who gets transported into the story of Cinderella and ends with a ballet performance. I love how it emphasizes how important it is to have imagination.

Corduroy by Don Freeman: How could I not include this classic? I read this book as a kid and loved it so much that I wanted to share it with Sloan. It's a great reminder to believe in adventures and to never give up on things that matter most (like your forever friends). 

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin: This is such a clever book to read out loud and reenact. Sloan got it for her birthday a few years ago and absolutely loves it to this day. It's a funny, tongue-in-cheek story where dragons can't have spicy tacos due to their fire breath. 

Waiting Is Not Easy by Mo Willems: Kids aren't the best at waiting, and let's just say that Sloan is occasionally included in that group. This story stresses that good things come to those who wait through a friendship between an elephant and a pig. The impatient elephant waits the whole story to see the night sky, and the constellations were so incredible that it was truly worth waiting for.

Bear's Big Day by Salina Yoon: Another one for getting ready to go to preschool. We read this one aloud so many times that Sloan has actually memorized it. It's empowering to kids and drives home a "you can do this" mentality for their first day. 

Dream Snow by Eric Carle: Come the holidays, Sloan, G, and I are almost exclusively reaching for themed books. Although this one is short, it's somehow really beautiful and quietly poetic. At the end of the book, there's a button that plays an gorgeous, little melody that stays with you even after the book is closed. 

A Unicorn Named Sparkle by Amy Young: We read this one to Sloan's class! It's about a little girl who sends away for a unicorn, and the one that arrives doesn't look the way she expected it to (she's actually a goat). It teaches kids that sometimes you have to be open and alter your expectations because you might find that what you have is what you've been looking for.

The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak: Written by B.J. Novak, this book is a crowd-pleaser for kids. They need to be a certain age to get it, but, trust me, when they do, they are obsessed. True to the title, there are no pictures, but instead, it's filled with silly, stupid words and phrases you have to yell (the sillier you are, the better the reaction). G read this to Sloan's class, and he essentially got a standing ovation.

The Day The Crayons Came Home by Oliver Jeffers: I read this one to Sloan's class, and, to me, the sequel is actually better than the original. It's so brilliant and easily one of the books I reach for the most. It's silly, but I'm so overjoyed when Sloan picks it for our nightly story time. The book follows a little boy who receives postcards from all the crayons in his life he's misplaced, lost or forgot about. There's brown crayon who's annoyed he has to color one *particular thing* (💩), another, who was left by the pool, and one that was eaten by the dog, puked up on the carpet and is "more carpet fuzz than crayon." It's funny, creative, and never gets old. 

The Adventures of Hank and Mr. Cornflakes by James Mayhew: This book is the kind of story that brilliantly combines both parent and kid tastes. It's about two dogs that work in security at LAX, and consider themselves gourmands. They've tried ham from Spain, truffles from Paris, and they make gourmet meals on their breaks. It's smart, beautifully illustrated and adorable—truly a win-win.