I've rounded up some books that my son and I have been reading lately. Some I read aloud, and others we switch off reading a page at a time. Some he may be reading by himself at bedtime. All of these are books that he really enjoys, so consider them kid-tested.
Cyclops. Leonard Everett Fisher's picture book tells the story of Odysseus and the one-eyed monster in a way six year olds can understand. If you want a gentle introduction to Greek mythology, this is, uh, not it. Cyclops not only eats some of the Odysseus's men, he also gets a big spear right in the eye. I don't want to say that Junior loved it because then you'll worry. So, I won't. But he did.
John Philip Duck, by Patricia Polacco. A fictionalized account of how there came to be ducks in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis. Warm and tenderhearted, as many of this author's picture books are. Polacco's works have tremendous kid appeal. Meteor, also by Polacco, chronicles a small town's excitement when a meteor lands in the author's grandparents' yard.
Fluffy's Silly Summer, by Kate McMullan. A feisty classroom guinea pig stars in this volume from a series of beginning readers. Goofy hijinks ensue, and if you're a homeschooler, this one is great because it's not set in the classroom. (I get tired of books set in the classroom, anyway—unless it's Fox at School, also a beginning reader.) Fluffy makes an appealing hero, and McMullan's humor and high-interest story lines are bonuses. I'd say the reading level is the "almost but not quite ready for chapter book" stage.
The Titanic, by Judy Donnelly. Back in April, the Book Moot blog offered a great post about Titanic-related books, and I nominate this advanced beginning reader for the list. I was surprised at the suspense and emotion conveyed with a fairly simple vocabulary and sentence structure. Brava, Judy Donnelly!
Jellies and Bee-bim Bop! About jellyfish (nonfiction, cool photos) and tasty Korean food (picture book), respectively. See my reviews of both at The Edge of the Forest. Bee-bim Bop! even comes with a recipe for the tasty rice dish of the title. Another picture book with a recipe at the end is Patricia Polacco's Thunder Cake, about a girl whose grandma helps her overcome some fears.
Armadillo Rodeo, by Jan Brett. Recommended by the National Education Association in its State by State Booklist, Brett's picture book is set in a Texas of cowboy boots 'n' square dances. (I'd love to hear about other picture-book representations of the Lone Star State if readers have suggestions.) The beauty of Brett's dense illustrations always wows me. How often are armadillos depicted with such care? (Thank you to the blog Twice Bloomed Wisteria for highlighting the NEA list.)
Duck & Goose, by Tad Hills. In a display of very sibling-like qualities, the adorable title characters squabble over what they think is an egg, and then decide to hatch it together. This would be wonderful for a preschool classroom; the reader is always one step ahead of Duck and Goose. (That's not an egg. It's a...well, you'll have to read the book.) Gorgeous spring colors predominate the illustrations.