The best kids books I wish were around when I was a kid

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Boomer. I was expected to read books about well-behaved children (Fun with Dick and Jane, 1940) or happy animals (The Poky Little Puppy, 1942), or going to bed quietly (Goodnight Moon, 1947). Why do you think my cohort has so much love for Dr. Seuss? The Cat in the Hat (1957) was a brat, and kids love a brat. The rhymes were smart, and kids need smart. Today, I get to read books to my grandkids that have edge, and books that don’t talk down to them. They deserve it, they won’t settle for less, and it’s a hell of a lot more fun for me.


I wrote...

WOOF!

By Ethlie Ann Vare,

Book cover of WOOF!

What is my book about?

The almost-true story of a girl who rescues a “death row doggie”… who is actually a wolf mistaken for a dog, or maybe he’s just a dog who thinks he’s a wolf - you’ll have to ask him. He has opinions. The stunning illustrations were created by AI art generators trained on oil paintings by the author’s late father.

“"A beautiful book. Ethlie Ann Vare's WOOF! captures that rare relationship where we allow others to be themselves and find ourselves in the process.” - Brad Koepenick, California Charter Teacher of the Year. “A fun and heartfelt book to prove that you cannot always judge a dog (or  human) at first glance.” -  James Craigmyle, America’s Top Dog

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Quantum Physics for Babies

Ethlie Ann Vare Why did I love this book?

It’s hard to pick a favorite from Chris Ferrie’s science books for kids: Pythagorean Theorem for Babies? ABC’s of Oceanography? My First 100 Bug Words? I love them all.

Big print, simple illustrations, indestructible pages (because the first thing a baby learns about biology is that chewing is cool…) Plus, it’s a better science education than most American public schoolchildren are getting in 10th grade.

Collect the set; they also look impressive on a bookshelf.

By Chris Ferrie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Quantum Physics for Babies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fans of Chris Ferrie's Organic Chemistry for Babies, Rocket Science for Babies, and 8 Little Planets will love this introduction to quantum physics for babies and toddlers!
It only takes a small spark to ignite a child's mind.
Written by an expert, Quantum Physics for Babies is a colorfully simple introduction to the principle that gives quantum physics its name. Babies (and grownups!) will discover that the wild world of atoms never comes to a standstill. With a tongue-in-cheek approach that adults will love, this installment of the Baby University board book series is the perfect way to introduce basic…


Book cover of The Pigeon Has to Go to School

Ethlie Ann Vare Why did I love this book?

Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive the Bus is the better known in this series of funny, adorably illustrated books, but I think Pigeon Has to Go to School really gets to the heart of why Pigeon is so beloved by kids: He embodies kid-ness.

He’s defiant and bratty and scared and anxious and excited and impatient and distractible and everything else that is lovable and crazy-making about your daughter/son/grandchild.

An easy read for young kids and fun to read to them.

By Mo Willems,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Pigeon Has to Go to School as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

Mo Willems' Pigeon is BACK in a hilarious story perfect for those about to start school or nursery.

"There is no such thing as a bad Mo Willems book" The Times

The Pigeon is about to get SCHOOLED. Do YOU think he should go?

Why does the Pigeon have to go to school? He already knows everything! Well ... almost everything. And what if he doesn't like it? What if the teacher doesn't like him? I mean, what if he learns TOO MUCH!?!


Book cover of P Is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever

Ethlie Ann Vare Why did I love this book?

To be perfectly honest, the title is the best part of this book. None of the text is quite as funny as the concept, but the concept is worth the price of admission.

You can keep your A is for Apple and B is for Ball. I’ll take K is for Knight and D is for Djibouti.

It’s not likely that a toddler is going to need to spell “phlegm” any time soon, but it’s a fun read for the adult — and the grown-ups also need to be entertained by a book that’s going to be aloud 100 times. 

By Raj Haldar, Chris Carpenter, Maria Beddia (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked P Is for Pterodactyl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Bestseller!

A "raucous trip through the odd corners of our alphabet." -The New York Times

Let's get real-the English language is bizarre. A might be for apple, but it's also for aisle and aeons. Why does the word "gnat" start with a G but the word "knot" doesn't start with an N? It doesn't always make sense, but don't let these rule-breaking silent letters defeat you!

This whimsical, funky book from Raj Haldar (aka rapper Lushlife) turns the traditional idea of an alphabet book on its head, poking fun at the most mischievous words in the…


Book cover of National Geographic Kids Readers: Deadliest Animals

Ethlie Ann Vare Why did I love this book?

Deadliest Animals is a good introduction to the National Geographic Kids series of softcover science readers, as kids are most drawn to animals that are either cuddly or poisonous.

These Net Geo readers are divided into Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3, with titles including Planets, Dinosaurs, Sea Otters, Trucks, Ancient Egypt, and more.

The text and illustrations are magazine-style and fairly straightforward, but they’re colorful, well-researched, and thankfully inexpensive.

By Melissa Stewart,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked National Geographic Kids Readers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Did you know that a tiny golf ball-sized creature called the blue-ringed octopus contains enough venom to kill 26 adult humans? Or why the Sydney funnel web spider is one of the most dangerous creatures in the world? In this Level 3 book, kids will be fascinated by 12 species that you hope you'll never come across! Sharks, snakes, jellyfish and more—these creatures are among the most threatening—and interesting—in the world!

National Geographic supports K-12 educators with ELA Common Core Resources.
Visit www.natgeoed.org/commoncore for more information.


Book cover of The Book with No Pictures

Ethlie Ann Vare Why did I love this book?

Don’t worry, this is not another celebrity “anyone can write a children’s book” book.

Writer/actor/director BJ Novak, best known for The Office, subverts the idea of a children’s picture book by creating a large-print read-aloud volume with no illustrations that will still delight any small child, because it tricks the grown-up reader into saying things that are silly and ridiculous and very not-grown-up at all.

By B.J. Novak,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Book with No Pictures as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This innovative and wildly funny read-aloud will be the Must Have book of the season. You might think a book with no pictures seems boring and serious. Except...here's how books work. Everything written on the page has to be said by the person reading it aloud. Even if the words say...BLORK. Or BLUURF. Even if the words are a preposterous song about eating ants for breakfast, or just a list of astonishingly goofy sounds like BLAGGITY BLAGGITY and GLIBBITY GLOBBITY.


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Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

By Jim Brown,

Book cover of Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

Jim Brown Author Of Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent my entire professional life quietly patrolling the frontiers of understanding human consciousness. I was an early adopter in the burgeoning field of biofeedback, then neurofeedback and neuroscience, plus theory and practices of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, plus steeping myself in systems theory as a context for all these other fields of focus. I hold a MS in psychology from San Francisco State University and a PhD from Saybrook Institute. I live in Mount Shasta CA with Molly, my life partner for over 60 years. We have two sons and two grandchildren.

Jim's book list on brain, mind, and consciousness

What is my book about?

In this thoroughly researched and exquisitely crafted treatise, Jim Brown synthesizes the newest understandings in neuroscience, developmental psychology, and dynamical systems theory for educators and others committed to nurturing human development.

He explains complex concepts in down-to-earth terms, suggesting how these understandings can transform education to engender optimal learning and intelligence. He explores the nature of consciousness, intelligence, and mind.

Brown then offers a model of optimal human learning through lifelong brain development within a supportive culture--drawing on the work of Piaget, Erickson, Maslow, Kohlberg, and Steiner--and how that work is being vastly expanded by neuroscience and dynamical systems thinking.

Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

By Jim Brown,

What is this book about?

In this thoroughly-researched and exquisitely crafted treatise, Jim Brown synthesizes the newest understandings in neuroscience, developmental psychology, and dynamical systems theory for educators and others committed to nurturing human development. He explains complex concepts in down-to-earth terms, suggesting how these understandings can transform education to truly engender optimal learning and intelligence. He explores the nature of consciousness, intelligence, and mind. Brown then offers a model of optimal human learning through life-long brain development within a supportive culture--drawing on the work of Piaget, Erickson, Maslow, Kohlberg, and Steiner--and how that work is being vastly expanded by neuroscience and dynamical systems thinking.


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