A dadcraft Favorite: Author and Artist Oliver Jeffers

  by Andrew Wolgemuth

What should we read? A simple question that has tens of thousands of correct answers.

Browsing Amazon or walking into a bookstore addresses that question in the same way that a fire hydrant answers a thirst issue: by providing an overwhelming torrent of a good thing.

Aiming to be more of a helpful drinking fountain, we’re going to provide a few suggestions for your reading list. Our hope is that we help you unearth books that your kids will enjoy time and again and that you won’t mind reading multiple times (read: Goodnight Moon won’t make the cut – twice through and I’m identifying with that late night bowl of mush).

So, let’s start with an author / illustrator whose star has been recently rising: Oliver Jeffers.

Occasionally Jeffers is only a book’s illustrator; most of the time he’s the illustrator and author. Either way, his participation makes a book highly enjoyable.

The Days the Crayons Quit (and the equally excellent follow-up, The Days the Crayons Came Home) is an example of the former. The book’s premise is creative and fun (a child’s crayons are quitting for various reasons, and they’ve submitted explanatory letters to their owner), and Jeffers’ art is just right. Both books make me (and my kids, too) laugh despite having read them a number of times.

Jeffers pens both the words and the illustrations for Stuck, and the result is fantastic. Young Floyd gets his kite stuck in a tree, and he’ll do anything (that is, chuck anything) into the tree to get it back.

Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters makes the well-worn alphabet book genre fun again. None the Number does the same in the counting book genre, What’s the Opposite? does it for the opposite book genre, and This Moose Belongs to Me does the same in the moose book genre.

Imaginary Fred is a fun story about an imaginary friend who ends up finding his own imaginary friend.

I could go on, but – in short – we haven’t been disappointed by a Jeffers book yet.

The good man even offers some fun printable sheets at his site: some spot-the-difference sheets, some join-the-dots sheets (that’s British for dot-to-dot), mazes, and plain old coloring pages. He just wants to help you out and give you fun things to do with your kids, it seems.

So: Oliver Jeffers. A very good answer to What should we read?

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Whirly-popped popcorn is a great snack while reading. And sometimes the best reading you can do with your kids is from books they’ve made.

Photo is artwork from Oliver Jeffers’ Stuck.