DS is 3.5, likes books aimed at the 4-6 age range. We have lots of animal stories, but he's learning things we don't care for from them--like foxes are bad because they eat rabbits. We also do not care for the anthropomorphizing of animals-at least in every story! We're trying to gently rebuild our story collection with books about people or people-like fantasy creatures (fairies, etc). Non-antrhopomorphized animals are fine. (I don't want this to turn into an ideological debate--this is just how we feel).
Note: we prefer good quality storytelling--not just books about people doing things, and no non-fiction. We like nice art, too--not computer-generated stuff. We don't do marketed characters (Diego, etc). We're pretty Waldorfy (we've got the Beskow, Lindgren books), but open to non-Waldorfy books.
This is the kind of thing we like:
Some of our favorites:
The Maggie B. - Irene Haas
Maggie and the Pirates - Ezra Jack Keats
A Pocketful of Cricket - Rebecca Caudill
My Farm - Alison Lester
Eloise - Kay Thompson
Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm (and other books about Maple Hill Farm) - Alice and Martin Provensen
The Princess in the Kitchen Garden - Annemie and Margriet Heymans
The Paradise Garden - Colin Thompson
How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen - Russell Hoban
The Little Brute Family - Russell Hoban
The Rain Door - Russell Hoban
One Morning in Maine - Robert McCloskey
Time of Wonder - Robert McCloskey
When Spring Comes - Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
anything by Byrd Baylor
Of course, fairy tales are great. We have nicely illustrated versions of Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, and Iron Hans, among others.
There are also lots of books with animals so anthropomorphized that they might as well be people - like Russell Hoban's Frances books (which I recommend), or the Frog and Toad books (also recommended.) Those don't give any messages about predators being bad or anything like that, because the characters may be drawn as animals, but they live exactly like people.
At our house, we have the following books that meet the bill:
The Man Who Lived in a Hollow Tree
A subset of Dr. Seuss books - If I Ran The Circus, Scrambled Eggs Super, Bartholomew and the Oobleck
Most Robert Munch books - Paper Bag Princess, Pigs, The Fire Station, ...
Trouble with Trolls by Jan Brett
Annie and the Wild Animals by Jan Brett
The Rainbabies by Laura Krauss Melmed
Grandfather Twilight by Barbara Helen Berger
in November by Cynthia Rylant
Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato by Tomie d'Paola
How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long
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