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8 Picture Books for Early Mornings

Are anyone else’s children suddenly waking up way earlier than normal?

I’m blaming earlier sunrises and although I usually try to wake up before my girls and be showered and dressed before they wander in, this is getting increasingly difficult unless I want to wake up at 6:05 a.m. (spoiler: I do not).

So we’re spending more morning snuggling in bed with a stack of picture books, because if I can’t be asleep, at least I can be mostly lying down and surrounded by blankets and pillows.

Here are eight books that are (almost) worth waking up for. Let’s be honest, I’d always choose another hour of sleep over more picture books.

picture books for all ages

great picture books for all ages

The Great Sheep Shenanigans by Peter Bently and Mei Matsuoka
Lou Pine, a hungry old wolf, is dying for a lamb supper. How hard can it be to snatch a tasty lamb from a nearby flock? Harder than he’d guess! I don’t know why a wolf makes such a funny villain and why it’s so gratifying to watch him be defeated multiple times, but this book has a lot of clever twists that made it a favorite while we had it checked out from the library.

Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) by Julie Falatko and Tim Miller
I get such a kick out of books that break the fourth wall, and in this one, the narrator describes everything Snappsy is doing, with a very sinister read on every action. Snappsy, who is just trying to go grocery shopping, does not appreciate being shown as an evil monster out to get poor woodland creatures. But eventually the off-screen narrator and Snappsy make nice at a dance party. Obviously.

The Boy, The Bear, The Baron, The Bard by Gregory Rogers
This wordless book has a ton of panels on each page and made me miss London like crazy. A little boy kicks his ball into an empty theater (think The Globe) and when he starts performing on the empty stage, he’s suddenly transported to Shakespeare’s Globe theater and chased off the stage by the angry Bard who did NOT want his show disrupted. The little boy finds a circus bear, meets the queen, frees a baron, and basically enjoys adventures all over London. Take me back!

Bunny Roo, I Love You by Melissa Marr and Teagan White
I got this last year as part of a batch of Mother’s Day books and that was right during graduation and then our trip to the south and then we moved so, embarrassingly, I never even opened it. But a few weeks ago, Ani pulled it off the shelf and it is so cute. As the baby reacts in various ways (hungry, crying, crawling, tired), the mother acts as if the baby is a different animal in each situation. The illustrations are darling, and the text is just so sweet and clever. It’s a perfect baby shower book that won’t be a third copy of Goodnight Moon.

Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea
We gave the girls Ballet Cat books in their Easter baskets, and we’ve read this dozens of time since then. Sparkle Pony has plenty of good ideas of what they could play, but Ballet Cat really only wants to (surprise!) do ballet. Is there any way for Sparkle Pony to admit that sometimes he wants to do something that. . . isn’t ballet?

Snippy and Snappy by Wanda Gag
Just over two years ago, Bart’s grandfather passed away, and that year for Christmas, Bart’s parents gave all gifts related to the year that his grandfather was born. This book was one of them. I was familiar with Millions of Cats, but I’d never read this one. I’ve become a big fan in the last two years – Snippy and Snappy are young mice who have heard that houses have cheese and they are really interested in checking that situation out.  But they don’t have any experience with humans or houses, so they head straight to trouble.

Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg
When the scout ants discover sugar, the whole colony heads to a house to recover one crystal each. But two bad ants decide they’d rather stay in the sugar bowl than head home to be workers again. Of course, they eat way too much sugar, fall asleep in the bowl, and then wake up to a morning of horrors, from a round in a coffee cup, to an adventure in the toaster. It’s particularly fun to identify various household objects when they seem so huge to the ants. I always love Chris Van Allsburg, but this is one of my favorites (watch for the small white dog that appears in all his books).

Pinch and Dash and the Terrible Couch by Michael J. Daley and Thomas F. Yezerski
This was a Cybils nominee when I was on the early chapter books committee a few years ago, and it has stayed in our rotation since then. My girls love this funny story of Pinch who is deeply displeased when his Aunt Hasty sends him a couch to store for a while. It doesn’t match his curtains, it leaves no room for his own belongings, and he just wants it GONE. Fortunately, his neighbor and best friend, Dash, might just have a solution. (The other book about this duo, Pinch and Dash Make Soup, is also very amusing).

And if you’d like a printable copy of this list that you can take to your library or screenshot on your phone for easy access, just pop in your email address below and it’ll come right to your inbox!

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  1. I got up at 5:07 this morning to take a shower, and my husband was still up with the baby before I came out of the bathroom twenty minutes later. You're killing me, smalls.

  2. One of my very favorite memories is crawling into my Mom's bed one Saturday morning with my two sisters (we were older than your girls) and listening to her read the entire Boxcar Children book, the first one (the best one). It felt so ridiculously luxurious. 🙂


  3. This might be totally lazy, but I like to keep a stack of wordless picture books by my bed for those early wakings. My toddler (2 yo) knows that if there is no text, she can "read" the story to me, so it really requires no effort whatsoever on my end… 😉

  4. I am so impressed you can be up and ready before they get up. Ive never succeeded at that, try as I might. And I'm amazed you can read to them in the early am, I'd be falling asleep on page one. My kids are used to me falling asleep while reading, they yell "keep reading mom" "open your eyes!" and once even gave me a "you did it mom, you finished!" Maybe story time after lunch is a bad time for me…

  5. My 3-year-old loved "Snappsy" and "The Great Sheep Shenanigans"! Thanks for the recommendations. She didn't like "The Boy, the Bear, the Baron, the Bard", but I sure did!

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