We love to read at our house. Library visits happen about once a week to replenish our supply of books. I wish I'd kept better records on our favorite stories. Some have been forgotten, but others we've actually purchased because we loved them so much.
Bonny Becker's books A Visitor for Bear and Bedtime for Bear are two beloved favorites at our house.
I think a good children's book needs to have: rich vocabulary, engaging pictures, and an interesting story. If I don't like the illustrations, forget it! I don't even bother with the book. Kady MacDonald Denton does a fabulous job of portraying the stories. Besides great illustrations, the vocabulary is fantastic in these books, and my kids use the words correctly in daily life. (Recently my 3 year old used the word mournful.) The teacher in me loves that! The stories are hilarious, which makes for an enjoyable read aloud.
Plus we've had all kinds of fun having tea parties and impromptu dramas to recreate these books. One day we went out to eat at a restaurant that had a working fireplace. My son flopped down in front of the "crackling fire" to warm his toes...just like Bear and Mouse did in A Visitor for Bear. I was a bit humiliated as he made quite a fuss about the crackling fire, but he was absolutely delighted.
(All of the photos were taken in 2012... I've been meaning to write about these books for a long time!)
I need to mention that there are two more books in the series about Bear and Mouse (small and gray and bright-eyed), but review them before you share them with your kids. I waited for quite a while on The Sniffles for Bear as it mentions writing a will. (Bear, over-dramatic about most things, has a cold and thinks that maybe he's going to die.) A Birthday for Bear, was written to be an "easy reader", so the vocabulary was simplified for beginning readers to be able to read it on their own. It lacks the charm of the other books, and honestly I think Bear is so rude that I didn't want my kids to hear the story. They've since published a full-sized version of the birthday book, but I don't know if they've enriched the text or kept it simple. Either way, preview it first to see whether you feel the message is appropriate for your little ones.
The kids and their cousin listening in as Gram reads AVisitor for Bear