Mo Willems, in my opinion, should be the newest member of the legendary children’s authors hall of fame. I was first introduced to his books as a kindergarten teacher about 10 years ago and I have continued to follow his hilarious and lovable characters through their ups and downs ever since.
What makes Mo Willems’ books so amazing? I don’t even know where to begin because my list is seriously that long!
Since I have to start somewhere, let’s start with the fact that his books are entertaining to readers of all ages. We all have that one book or two that we dread and do anything we can to sway their little literary minds to something else. Not with Mo Willems’ books. Even better, kids start their love for Mo Willems at a very young age and… well I don’t really know when they stop loving him. I’ve met 5th graders who still crack up when they hear his stories.
So what is out there in Willems Land that you as a parent, and just a general lover of children’s literature should know about? You should know that it all really got started with Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! The cartoonish illustrations and complete hysterics that Pigeon goes through to try and drive the bus will have both you and your little ones cracking up! The Pigeon books have been favorites in our home for toddler, preschool, and primary elementary entertainment.
Knuffle Bunny (and no, the “k” is NOT silent), is the star of an amazing Mo Willems series. This trilogy follows Trixie, which just so happens to be the name of Willems real life daughter, and her precious lovey, Knuffle Bunny (Kuh-Nuffle Bunny). All parents and children can relate to these books because we know how important those one-of-a-kind stuffed animals are! Knuffle Bunny tells the story of a lost lovey and how toddler Trixie learns her first words. In one scene, Willems describes Trixie as going “boneless” when she can’t figure out how to tell her Daddy Knuffle Bunny is missing! There’s not a parent out there who doesn’t know exactly what he means describing that tantruming toddler, and not a kid who doesn’t think it’s hysterical. The series follows Trixie as she enters Pre-K and then eventually as she becomes a “big kid”. A word to the wise though, be prepared when you go to read the last installment, Knuffle Bunny Free. Any books about kids growing up and any of the sentimentality attached to it get me every. time. This is certainly no exception. The Knuffle Bunny series holds a special place in my heart.
Last but certainly not least, let me introduce you to Piggie and Elephant. This expansive series by Mo Willems will have the youngest and oldest readers sharing giggles as they see what silly antics the two friends are up to. Whether it is trying to figure out how to play with a new toy (I Love My New Toy), understanding things from a different point of view (A Big Guy Took My Ball), or the value of friendship (My Friend is Sad), Gerald the elephant and Piggie the pig teach lessons through simple and hilarious stories. The text is basic and done all through speech bubbles, but the depth of the stories is surprisingly rich.
Mo Willems is truly an amazing children’s author. His books encourage children to find that true joy and love of reading at a young age. You start to truly care about the characters, as you get to know them in each book. On top of that, he adds in other great books for young readers like Cat the Cat, and Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs. As a mother, I see my children reach for Mo Willems’ books when they want to spend time together, enjoy the same story, and laugh. As a preschool teacher, I see my students, who are in the emergent stages of reading flock to his books to retell the story and act out the scenes. Isn’t that what we all want for our kids? To show them that reading is such a pleasure? Thanks to Mo Willems, that lesson is a little easier.
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