Winter is here, as Marsha Q. reminds us, and I need to get cracking. My little boy’s birthday falls 5 days after Christmas, and given his large number of adoring relatives, that will mean an influx of presents. What he needs, really, is books—it’s getting to be time to put the board books away but that will seriously cut down on our nighttime selection, and while he’d be happy to hear the same five books every night, Mommy does like variety.

So, I’d love some suggestions of books to put on his list. The Hamline required reading list provided a nice guide for us to start building his library, and I’m please to say that he could now make pretty good headway into his annotated bibliography, if only he knew how to write. It’s fun to see him take to books like Make Way for Ducklings, The Snowy Day, and Madeline (Tonight I asked him if he wanted Where the Wild Things Are and he responded, very cheerfully, “No, it’s too scary!”)

I write novels because picture books are too hard, and watching what this almost-three-year-old takes to is an education for me. I’ve noticed how much he responds to language—both playful (Phyllis Root is definitely his favorite author) and lyrical, like On the Day You Were Born and The House in the Night. Unlike Ron’s garbage man, he’s not above a good llama/mama rhyme. Other favorites include Punk Farm (ask him what a cow says and he’ll reply with great convictions, “Boom, crash!”) The Best Pet of All, and Officer Buckle and Gloria.

The darker side of his library includes a vast number of Blue’s Clues books—I vaguely considered doing a lecture next residency on bad sentences using just these. We keep accruing more because we get so sick of the one’s we have. Somewhere, there’s a flaw in our logic but I can’t quite find it.

So, what other books should we have? We have to wait ‘til summer, after all, for One Pup’s Up.