Mommy & Me Books

I haven’t done a post of Mommy & Me book pairings in a long time. To be clear, this is also daddy & me, mommies & me, caretaker & me.  One is just alliterative, happens to be what I am, and was an idea initially sparked by the mommy and me outfits that Cotton Stem does with her daughters.

Some of my favorite parts of my days with my daughter include us reading, whether it be reading to her (endlessly!) or when we do what we call “own books” time.  We started doing that when she was one and a few months and, essentially, we pick a big stack of books for her to bring over to the couch and she flips through and “reads” those while I read my own book.  I think it would be extra fun, especially as she’s beginning to constantly make connections between different books and what’s happening in her life to books, to be a little more aware of picking the books that I’m reading so that we can talk about those connections afterwards.

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Lucy Fleming’s Ella’s Night Lights and Angie Cruz’s Dominicana

Thank you to Candlewick for our review copy! Our daughter gasped her way through her first read of this and continues to talk about and play out parts of this book, requesting rereads often (very often).  The elements of light and dark in the illustrations are beautiful and  I love the messages of this one centered around sharing light. Quotes like “There was always someone who needed a little bit of light” feel all the more resonant these days.  This is such a special one.

I’m matching it with the book Dominicana, which I also received as a review copy last year thanks to Flatiron, because what I most remember from this remarkably written immigrant story is the heartbreakingly beautiful ability of the main character to find light.  This is a story packed with depth and illumination that should absolutely be on your TBR.

Kyo Maclear’s and Chris Turnham’s Hello, Rain! and Jasmine Warga’s Other Words For Home

Thank you to Chronicle Kids for our review copy!  I want to describe this book as pure sunshine, but, I mean, it’s all about rain.  This book is like William Carlos Williams came across a toddler dancing in the rain. The cheery illustrations and the way each page brings you joy found in something that we can often complain about make this a book one that will make your heart brighten and you’ll be happy to read often.

I’m pairing it with Other Words for Home because it’s another book that shines so brightly. It’s written in verse, so the rhythm connects these two, too, but its the heart that brims over in each of these that make me want to put them on everyone’s shelves.

Herve Tullet’s Mix It Up and Maira Kalman’s The Principles of Uncertainty

Thank you to Chronicle for our review copy! Our daughter smiles through this whole book, loving getting into the magic of the idea that she’s creating these color combinations.  You might know this author and artist from Press Here, another wonderful, interactive read, though I like this one even more.  Buy it for a baby to enjoy the bright colors and keep reading it over and over as your kid grows and learns to love the simple enchantment of color.  We recently did some finger painting inspired by this book and I’m sure will be doing that a lot more.

I’m in awe of the way truly artistic people see the world and thought the pairing of this book of Maira Kalman’s, one of my all-time favorites, really highlights the delightful magic of an artist’s worldview. If you haven’t read this one yet and are looking for something unique and happy, do yourself a favor and buy a copy.  I re-read it often and delight it in every time.

Hope Lim’s and Hyewon Yum’s I Am a Bird and Emma Hooper’s Etta and Otto and Russell and James

Thank you to Candlewick for our review copy!  The imagery of a little girl riding on the back of her dad’s bike every day and pretending to be a bird is such a charming one.  Paired with the message of looking closer before jumping to conclusions, this one feels serene and simple in a wonderful way.

I haven’t read this one because grumpy old person stories, while beloved by so many, are ones that I feel distinctly curmudgeonly about. That being said, I will admit that this one sounds good and is not one that seems to be floating around as much as other popular grumps like Ove.


Steve Light’s Road Trip: A Whiskers Hollow Adventure and Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series

Thank you to Candlewick for our review copy!  We are reading this one over and over.  Our toddler loves the repeated line of “Follow me, friends!” (said in a goofy voice around here) and so clearly gets caught up in the adventure of these animal friends.  I adore the details in these illustrations, particularly of the animals’ homes, and get caught up in the fun of it all myself.

The map on the endpaper of this book reminded me of the fantastic Wildwood series.  They, too, have beautiful, distinctive illustrations throughout (Colin Meloy’s wife is the artist Carson Ellis).  Both of these books feature anthropomorphized animals and, while I’m always fine with that in picture books, I usually don’t like it in anything else, but totally embrace it in Wildwood.  There’s a level of quirkiness and adventure that sing in these and make them worlds that you’ll be happy to get lost in.

Allan Wolf’s and Brianne Farley’s No Buddy Like a Book and Pamela Paul’s My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues

Thank you to Candlewick for our review copy! Poetic and full of imagination, I think this is one that will be happily enjoyed by all book lovers and anyone looking to kindle that joy of adventure and discovery that reading brings.  “I visit any world I wish/ and never leave my chair./  There is no buddy like a book/ to make me feel I’m there.”

There are certain books I always see whenever books about books are discussed, but Pamela Paul’s is a delight that I don’t see mentioned as much. If you consider yourself bookish and brighten over book talk, do pick this one up. It’s delightful.


Sherri Duskey Rinker’s and Tony Fucile’s It’s So Quiet: A Not-Quite-Going-to-Bed Book and Jason Reynold’s Ghost

Thank you to Chronicle Kids for our review copy!  You may know Duskey Rinker from the Construction Site series and, with all the sounds of the night, this one also makes for a very fun read-aloud. Our daughter smiles her way through this one and, if like us, you don’t appreciate a picture book about nighttime that doesn’t end up in a child asleep…don’t worry.

I’m pairing this with Jason Reynold’s Track series. It might seem like an odd choice, but when I think of Jason Reynolds, I think of his strong voice and the rhythm and naturalness he has throughout each of these very compelling stories.


Petr Horacek’s The Best Place in the World and Ingrid Fetell Lee’s Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness

Thank you to Candlewick for our review copy!  This sweet book asks the question about what makes a place the one where you feel happiest.  There’s a combination of soft and rough within the paintings that’s so charming and I’m guessing most people will appreciate the message of there being no place like home a little more these days.

If you’ve yet to read Joyful and have been searching ways for ways to be able to seek out and build in some joy into your life, I highly recommend this one.  The approach to this book is refreshing and I think you’ll find yourself going down lots of happy rabbit holes and considering fresh ways to inject some happiness into your everyday.


Rachel Stubbs’ My Red Hat and Julia Stuart’s The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise

Thank you to Candlewick for our review copy!  This is the story of a grandfather passing down his red hat to his granddaughter and, with it, sharing his love.  The illustrations and tale are so gentle and heartwarming.

With relationships at its core, this is one of those books that I think so many of you would love and that I never seen in these book spaces.  It’s full of heart and charm and, basically, all my fellow readers who hear British and quirky characters and feel a little spur in their soul, pick this up!


Shawn Harris’s Have You Ever Seen a Flower? and Laurie Frankl’s This Is How It Always Is

Thank you to Chronicle for our review copy! I think I read this one ten times in a row earlier today.  The colors of this book are brilliant in both shade and use.  I love how the story is so full of wonder and appreciation of nature and it’s so cute to watch our daughter imagine along with the story, feeling her body growing and stretching and blooming like this vibrant book.

I picked This Is How It Always is to go with this one because it’s my answer to the question, “What’s a book that changed your life?”.


  • elizabeth says:

    hello erin,
    it probably won’t surprise you that i love etta and otto and russell and james. it has been some years since i read it. but maybe you would like it?
    i know you didn’t like ove. and i loved ove. (we have established that i have a bent for appreciating some darker themes . . . ) but etta isn’t ove. and the book is mostly her story. i do think you would like her.

    i also think i would like to keep adding to my library of picture books . . . but i don’t know that this is exactly the right time . . .

    thanks for sharing your love of books.

    • Erin says:

      I did think that Etta seemed more up my alley and a story that I might not feel quite so eye roll-y about. I guess I should also say that I like lots of stories that might induce eye rolls; my guess is that it was a combination of lots of things for poor Ove. Before we had Maeve, I’d still occasionally buy picture books because sometimes they’re just so darn charming. Even just flipping through them at a bookstore or a library, once browsing is more doable, might be a nice way to spend an afternoon. There are so many fantastic new ones. Thank YOU!

      • elizabeth says:

        i was trying to find something i had written about etta . . . i’ll see if i come across it yet and share it with you.

        i have so many picture books! i was thinking about sharing some old-but good ones here – some that i read to maddie and isaac fifteen or so years ago.


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