Robert Munsch grew up in Pennsylvania, in a big family with nine kids. Well, to be more accurate, Munsch specifies that he lived in Pennsylvania when he was young, and that he never really did grow up at all. The prolific author struggled through most of his schooling, but always had a passion for writing. He particularly enjoyed writing poetry, both the serious and silly varieties. But writing was his past time, not something he, or anyone else, really valued at the time.
Fast forward a few decades, and you find Robert Munsch working in day cares and preschools, captivating children with his storytelling. On his official website, Munsch recalls, “For ten years I did this without thinking I had any special skill. After all, while I made the best stories in the daycare centre, most of the other teachers made better play doh. I eventually got a long list of stories I told, but I never wrote them down.”
Eventually, Munsch found himself working in the lab preschool at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, his boss (with some prompting from his wife, a children’s librarian) gave Munsch two months off to write down some of his stories and send them off to ten publishers. One accepted his manuscript and an author was born.
Robert Munsch enjoys connecting with kids and often draws his stories out of experiences and conversations with some of his smallest fans. It’s this connection that makes his stories so authentic and appealing to kids of all ages. His child-like imagination and sense of humor combined with his storytelling style make his books some of the best on the bookshelf.
With over 25 books to choose from, picking the best titles by Robert Munsch is not an easy task. Between my own children and those I’ve worked with, I think I’ve narrowed it down to my three picks.
The Paper Bag Princess. Who doesn’t love a good story about a princess who saves herself and calls the superficial prince a “bum”? At least that’s what I like about it. My boys just love the dragon and the way he gets tricked into using all his fire and all his energy, causing him to be anything but fierce. It’s a unique story and a clever plot.
Mmm, Cookies! This story really lends itself to Munsch’s storytelling style. It includes sound effects (which I always add actions to) and it’s an easy one to get the kids to join in. You can read a full summary and story activity for this book here.
Alligator Baby. Kids love this book! It’s a silly story (of course) about Kristen’s parents who accidentally go to the zoo instead of the hospital to have their baby. Exhausted, they make several trips between their home and the zoo, trying to bring home the right baby. By the end, their home is full of baby animals, and Kristen saves the day by retrieving her baby brother from the zoo. The story is hilarious and the pattern in the text keeps kids engaged.
I love all three of those stories, as does my (almost) five-year-old daughter. I also really like Ribbon Rescue — it’s not as funny, but the protaganist is spunky, and I like the dose of Canadian culture it adds, too. I also love Moira’s Birthday for its playfulness. That story was written for a girl in Hay River, NWT, and (as a northerner) I’m tickled that the present Moira keeps is a stuffed muskox.
My daughter also loves listening to Munsch tell stories on his website. It’s interesting to see how the live versions sometimes different from the printed. (Mmm, Cookies! has a slightly different ending, for example, and he says “play dough” rather than the printed “play clay”.) I think it’s amazing the stories are there for sharing in their entirety, and really speaks to his commitment to literacy. But my favourite part is reading the background stories to the books.
Thanks for sharing the storytelling resource! I’ve wondered about the “play clay” when reading Mmm, Cookies. My guess was that there’s either a copyright of some kind on the brand name play doh or there was just a coloquial difference. If he says play dough in his storytellling, it makes me think it may be the first. I do love his unique details as well. I think it just makes the stories all the more authentic and relatable. He really has a gift!
I love Angela’s Airplane, Thomas’ Snowsuit, and 50 Below Zero! I have to say, I enjoy his books more than any others. He has a great sense of humor!
Great list! I need to get some of those for my own library!
Robert Munsch is quickly becoming my six year old’s favorite author. Thank you for this list! My son’s favorite so far is “Andrew’s Loose Tooth.” It really helped my son with fear about loosing tooth which was on the verge of falling out. He nearly falls off the couch laughing every time we read it!
That was a fun book to read back in my first grade teaching days. Every kid could relate to it in one way or another!
What a great list! This post is not doing much to break my book addiction! Luckily, I just pulled some books to donate, so there’s room for some new ones!
Some of our favourites are:
Murmel, Murmel, Murmel (about a little girl who finds a baby and tries to find someone to take care of him)
Love You Forever (warning – this one is a tear-jerker)
I Have to Go (about a little boy who insists he doesn’t need to pee until, of course, his snowsuit is on or they are driving in the car, etc. – you get the picture!)
and Mud Puddle (about a little girl who is jumped on by a mud puddle whenever she goes outside).
Ms. Gayle says
I just ordered 4 more Munsch books for my home library yesterday! My daughter loves to read Smelly Socks. My fav is Love You Forever, makes me choked up everytime. If you haven’t yet, find the cd companions. It’s awesome to hear Mr. Munsch read his books himself.
I think I need the Smelly Socks book!
Colleen - Sunrise Learning Lab says
Great post and list featuring Robert Munsch and his cool books for kids. Thanks for sharing. Will have to remember to check some out of the library the next time we go there or else will have to buy a few. We have Love You Forever and The Paper Bag Princess.
Great idea to feature an author!
Our family loves Munsch too. I’m going to have to check out his website. I like, I Have To Go, Murmel, Murmel, Murmel, and Purple Green and Yellow. Really I like most of them. 🙂 Buying the Munschwork Grand Treasury is really the way to go.
Sarah Baldwin says
I LOVE Robert Munsch! My three favorites are The Paperbag Princess, Love You Forever and A Promise is a Promise. Know them all by heart! Thanks for featuring this wonderful children’s author.
I have quite a list of books I need to get now! Thanks for all the suggestions!
The Paper Bag Princess is the first book I give to all of my friends who have a daughter…..:)
Tami Peterson says
You are so cute, Mandy! We loved your family picture and New Year’s letter, too. I love “Andrew’s Loose Tooth” because I had a good friend give it to Taylor when she was little right after she swallowed her tooth and she was really distraught and thought that the Tooth Fairy would NOT visit her because she didn’t think that she (the TF) would believe her. She even wrote her a note that said, “dear tooth fairy, I swollowed my tooth. honest i did!” The book was a huge hit with her. I also love “Love You Forever”, but even just typing it makes me want to cry (seriously I have NEVER made it clear through that one without tears!). Another book that we love, but I’m not sure if he’s the author or not is, “Stephanie’s Ponytail”. It’s a great story of just being yourself and being okay with that. We’re excited for your new “adventure” and know you’ll do great! Love, Tami & fam
Tara McClintick says
Thanks for introducing me to Robert Munsch’s books! They look awesome, can’t believe I haven’t heard of them before (being the kids’ book freak that I am lol)
Tara McClintick says
OK, I was wrong, I actually have a few of his books already! Thanks for introducing me to some NEW titles, I’ll be checking those out!
hi i love your books
Tracy Rozler says
I have a book I want to publish. I really don’t want to waste my money and get my hopes up for something that isn’t real. Do you recommend a publishing company that is real. I want the world to know my character Anthony.