PMB Book Club: Kid-Friendly Books


Are you tired of reading the same children’s books to your kids? Those books that rhyme? Tell the same story? Are mass-produced and mass-marketed? If you are looking for books that are different, read on, I have a few suggestions below that I have found to be gems. 

children's books

The Dog That Nino Didn’t Have by Anton van Hertbruggen & Edward van de Vendel

Words cannot describe how breathtaking I found this book to be. 

Nino did not have a dog, but he liked pretending he did. And so goes the story of what I thought was a lonely boy who misses his father. The book, by Dutch writer Edward van de Vendel, is so simple and yet so deep. It left me contemplating, wondering about the story behind the story, seeking an understanding for Nino and his circumstances. It is one of those books you think about after you put them down. Beautifully illustrated, there is just as much to be said about the visuals, as the text. 

This is one book that you do not hear about but rather randomly find on the bookshelf in the library. It is one I had not seen, or read before. A non-typical read found in children’s books: one that I found to be written as much for me, the parent, as for my children who sit there listening to it. I recommend this books hands down to anyone looking to enrich their collection. It is no wonder it won an award. 

Available new, used on Amazon

The Only Child by Guojing

Another gem from a different part of the world. This title is a wordless book from a Chinese author and illustrator. 

I found this book perched on the new acquisition shelf at the library. I was intrigued by the cover, and checked it out. It was not until later in the evening that I realized it was part picture book and part graphic novel. I was mesmerized. 

Depicting the story of a young girl who, after being left alone at home, decides to visit her grandma, the book takes us through the minute details of the girl’s day. We see her get dressed, take the bus, fall asleep, get lost, and finally make her way home after a magical journey in the woods. There is no need for words in this book as the black and white illustrations tell all, feelings included. 

USA Today called it “an expansive and ageless book full of wonder, sadness, and wild bursts of imagination.” I highly recommend you get a copy for yourself, and another for a friend. 

Available new, used on Amazon

Strong is the New Pretty by Kate T. Parker

Talk about inspirational. This book is a must-have for every household with a daughter or a son. Directed towards the new generation of girls growing up in this highly competitive and image conscious world, it is all about the other ways to look good. 

Compiled by a photographer mother, who is also a former collegiate soccer player and Ironman, the book quotes girls of all ages and backgrounds about their interests, accomplishments, and what they think makes them “strong.” Wild, resilient, creative, determined, kind, fearless, joyful, independent are but a few ways in which these girls see themselves. 

With colorful photographs and simple words, this book drives a really important message home. Not like your typical story time, bed time, or down-time children’s books, but it is an essential. I loved the book so much, and agreed with its message that I added my own daughter’s photograph and quote at the end of it; a reminder for her when she grows up, a way for me to capture time. 

Available new, used on Amazon

Mama Says: A Book of Love for Mothers and Sons by Rob D. Walker

When I reached the last page, I was in for a surprise.   

The words are beautiful, the illustrations colorful, and the message taught is remarkable. From around the world and in different languages, this book teaches a timeless lesson of  the importance of kindness, sharing, diligence, faith, courage, and a willingness to always try your best. 

Two-time Caldecott Medalists Leo and Diane Dillon speak to boys growing up into men. Each page is dedicated to a different culture, and is written in that native language. Imagine my excitement when I came across an Arabic text exactly translated into English, and imagine my kids’ reaction at finding their native language among others on the pages of a book!

I love, love, loved this book. I loved it so much I bought a copy for myself and another for my mother-in-law as a gift for Mother’s Day. Trust me, you are going to want this book. 

Available new, used on Amazon

What children’s books are you reading this summer? Be sure to let us know in the comments!

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Lebanese in origin, Ranya became a US citizen in 2007. Shortly after meeting Jeff through a job ad in Beirut in 2003, she moved to Portland to pursue a doctorate at PSU. From there, the two of them moved to the East Coast to begin their adventures. The last fourteen years have seen them in Portland, OR twice; in Arlington, VA twice, in Columbia, MD as well as Lebanon and Morocco. In her current life, Ranya is a teacher’s aide who loves to embark on special projects with her daughter. Their signature Mama-and-Me activity is hosting their friends for formal tea parties. She is trilingual, and is passing on the torch of language to her children who are fluent in English and Arabic. Ranya is passionate about hot yoga, and enjoys long walks. She absolutely hates driving, and reserves it for cases of dire need. She believes in the wonders of snuggles, and advocates their daily use. She lives a walking distance from her all-time favorite restaurant, Saburo, with Jeff, Jannah-Rae and Yousef. They share their one-bathroom house with her parents and Leo, the Arabic-speaking cat. Ranya writes thoughts, tots and essential oils on her blog Ranya, the Memory Keeper.