When we had my oldest daughter, we fell in love with a few books, artists, albums, and videos that we've enjoyed bringing back around.
-Really Rosie - an amazing album by Carole King (and book with illustrations by Maurice Sendak). Stories in song with the soulful groove of the woman who gave us Tapestry.
-Free to Be You and Me - book, album, and video classic from the seventies with all manner of gender exploration. My favorite track? "Parents are people." (A little known fact among children and a good reminder!) Amazingly progressive work even today.
-Anything and everything by Ella Jenkins - a music teacher who made a multitude of albums for children and grown-ups where she popularizes songs she learned worldwide. She teaches catchy tunes by way of call-and-response. As a result, you never forget them.
-Families of the World videos - a very special series. Each episode is narrated by a child in his/her country explaining the daily family routines and customs where he/she lives. Available (hopefully) at your local library. You can view trailers here.
We are also rabid fans of children's book authors at home. Here are a few of our favorite authors and their classics:
-Cynthia Rylant - The Poppleton series. Poppleton is a clever, stubborn pig with a friendly llama, Cherry Sue, for a neighbor. Each book is told in three linked chapters. All of life's simple lessons can be learned in these delightful books.
-Rosemary Wells - One of the greatest children's book authors and illustrators of our time. In our house, we love Yoko, Bunny Cakes, Max's Dragon Shirt, Timothy Goes to School, and the list goes on…
-Margaret Wise Brown - Best known for Goodnight Moon. Some of her books are so strange they verge on psychedelic (making them great stories for kids). In this vein, try Little Fur Family on for size.
-Kevin Henkes - His cast of mice characterize real children in all of their shapes and sizes. Favorites include Chrysanthemum and Shelia Rae, the Brave.
-William Steig - Magical stories with a darker side that will mystify your kids and give you pause. You may know him as the creator of Shrek! Check out Sylvester and the Magic Pebble and Doctor De Soto.