Red Is Best

Book review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Red Is Best Book Poster Image
Delightful, sweet story celebrates independence.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers see the dynamics between a parent and toddler when it comes to getting dressed, playing, eating, and painting.

Positive Messages

Red Is Best offers strong messages about independence, individuality, and autonomy for children and why honoring their preferences and needs is essential to their development.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The two characters here have a simple, loving interplay that perfectly illustrates a child's dependence on a parent, her need to assert her independence, and a parent's need to ensure a child's safety and warmth. 

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Red Is Best is a book suitable for all ages about the importance of individuality, especially for very young children, whose reasons for their preferences and needs often seem to have a logic all their own.

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What's the story?

This insistent toddler's mom doesn't quite understand her. You see, she loves the color red -- her red stockings help her jump higher, her red jacket allows her to be Little Red Riding Hood, her red barrettes make her hair laugh. Mom might keep suggesting the warmer blankets, warmer coats, and less hole-filled mittens, but red will always be better, because red is best.

Is it any good?

RED IS BEST is a Canadian classic, and this 25th-year reissue and board-book edition is proof of its staying power. Here's a simple tale about toddler whims any parent has surely faced -- the insistence on this cup, that pencil, this blanket, that toy. But instead of treating such preferences as an annoyance, Red Is Best, with its pitch-perfect toddler voice and delicately expressive pen, ink, and paint illustrations, celebrates them as a critical part of individuality and autonomy in a toddler's need to assert herself. It may not always make sense to parents, but this book shows both points of view as equally valid, something any red-loving toddler and warm-coat-insisting mother will relate to.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about red. What do you like (or not like) about red? Is it your favorite color? If so, why?

  • What are your favorite shoes? Why do you like them more than the others?

  • Do you have barrettes that make your hair laugh? Or a color that puts singing in your head?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and books for little kids

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