How to Make Children’s Books Part of Everyday Language In Your Family By Marcie Flinchum Atkins

Your kids can probably sing songs off the radio word-for-word. They might be able to quote commercials from TV. But do they quote from their favorite books on a regular basis?

I love that in recent years pieces of children’s books have become part of our everyday language. Before J.K. Rowling put her stamp on children’s books, none of us knew what a Muggle was. Now, it’s common language.

Children’s editors and agents are always looking for books that they describe as “re-readable.” The ones that kids want to reread over and over again. They don’t tire of them because they have something special thing about them.

Why Would I Want My Kids Quoting Children’s Books?

1)      Books can give you connections as a family.

I can still hear my mother’s voice when I read THE MONSTER AT THE END OF THIS BOOK. What can be better than everyone sitting around the table making up new verses to IF IT’S SNOWY AND YOU KNOW, CLAP YOUR PAWS? That’s what we were doing in a recent snowstorm because that book was stuck in our heads.

2)      It shows kids that reading can be fun!

Instead of memorizing their favorite commercials, they are memorizing books (or parts of books). A goat that’s jealous of a unicorn in UNICORN THINKS HE’S PRETTY GREAT by Bob Shea makes for hilarious reading and even better quotables in my house.

3)      It helps kids develop language skills.

If they are hearing books and enjoying them as pre-readers, then it will make reading something they WANT to do. CHICKEN CHEEKS by Michael Ian Black is a book about butts. It’s hilarious and short. At least if your kids are talking about butts, they’ll be using alliteration and rhyme to do it. They are learning language without realizing it!

I’d also recommend Shel Silverstein poetry for a bit of wordplay. My favorite poem to quote is “Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me Too” from WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS.

Our Family Favorites

CHICKEN CHEEKS by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes is the butt book I mentioned before. So hilarious my son wants to always share it with his Papa.

CRANKENSTEIN by Samantha Berger, illustrated by Dan Santat is another book that we quote around our house. And we steal words from it and chant pieces of it with my kids’ names substituted in for Crankenstein. 

IF IT’S SNOWY AND YOU KNOW IT, CLAP YOUR PAWS by Kim Norman, illustrated by Lisa Woodruff is great fun for the winter. You can help but sing along because it’s pitch-perfect.

NAKED MOLE RAT GETS DRESSED by Mo Willems worked its way into our everyday language because who doesn’t think the words “naked mole rat” sound funny. Every time our toddler gets in the bath, we call him a naked mole rat. 

TRUCKERY RHYMES by Jon Scieszka takes familiar songs and makes them about trucks. It’s another singing one that you won’t be able to get out of your head.

UNICORN THINKS HE’S PRETTY GREAT by Bob Shea is a recent favorite of ours, but we can’t stop quoting it. We also change the words around to fit our family. 


I asked some of my children’s literature loving friends (who also have kids) what some of their favorite quotable books were. Here’s what they shared with me.

CAPS FOR SALE Esphyr Slobodkina




PETER RABBIT by Beatrix Potter

STEPHANIE’S PONYTAIL by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko



What are some of your family’s favorite books? Are there books that your kids quote? We are always looking for some good reads at our house. Please share them in the comments.


Marcie Flinchum Atkins is a fourth grade teacher by day. She writes for children in the wee hours of the morning and tucks in her own wee ones at night with a few quotable books. Marcie is a writing coach at and writes about the writing life and how to use mentor texts to teach kids how to write at She has a MA and MFA, both in children’s literature, from Hollins University.



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