After six years of reading toddler-aged books, I feel as if I am a bit of an expert in early children's literature. Some books make me want to scream aloud at the weary, trite verbiage (i.e. Good Night Moon), but others can entertain both the grown up AND the kids. Rhyme, repetition,and simplicity are hallmarks of picture books as they foster early language, vocabulary, and reading skills, but some authors make the experience fun for the adults too. I chose the top 10 toddler-approved books that I have memorized from years of bedtime story-reading:
10. Jamberry by Bruce Degan. A silly, rhyming book that engages in a sing-songy romp around a berry-filled land. Honestly, I don't know why we love this book so much, but it is fun to say the tongue-twisting phrases!
9. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell. This Lift-the-Flap book entertains babies and toddlers with the animals hidden inside boxes and cages. Parents can make the animal sounds while the children guess what animal is coming next.
8. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin. We have two versions of this book: the board book is quicker and better for baby-level and the full-version even my 5 year old still enjoys. Before reading this book, watch the video online. The tune is catchy and it makes your interpretive reading much more fun!
7. Brown Bear Brown Bear by Bill Martin Jr./Eric Carle. I am not a huge fan of this book, but kiddos LOVE it. It becomes the first book they can 'read' because the pattern is the same throughout. Lissie even 'reads' this book to the reading dog at the library.
5. The Lamb Who Came for Dinner by Steve Smallman. O.k. the kids like this one, but I like it WAY more than they do. I am usually hysterically laughing at my own interpretation of the characters. I think my babies/toddlers have listened to this patiently because they are in awe of mommy snorting with laughter. It's a super-cute, funny book about a lamb who's looking for a warm place and a wolf who is quite hungry.....
4.The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Just like Brown Bear the repetition of the concepts makes this an easy "first read" for toddlers. The different fruits/foods really spur some language development in the kiddos too!
3. I Love You Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt. Finally, a loving bed time story that has gross elements for boys (and even my wimpy girls love it!). It's similar to the Runaway Bunny concept of a mother loving her child no matter what.
2. My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss. This is the only Dr. Seuss book that will make the list as it is a board book that uses regular language (See below). I really like using different voices with each "color" to show babies/tots expressions and feelings.
1. Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson. I love this book. It rhymes, it's fun, and it's a series! There are several Bear books and lots of fun forest creatures. Because the book incorporates rhyme and repetition, even though the language is somewhat challenging, even the youngest enjoy the "sound" of this book!
These books are kid AND parent approved. Most of these even my youngest will sit through and enjoy. I do want to point out books/authors that are off of my list:
- Dr. Seuss: I know, everyone loves Dr. Seuss, but his books are soooooo long and his silly language is a bit challenging and confusing for younger kids. My 5 year old reads them now, but she did not really enjoy them until recently. That is why only ONE made the list, and not even a popular one...
- Good Night Gorilla I am sure anyone who had a baby shower prior to your first kid received this book. I am sure other people love this book. I despise books with limited words (or none) and just pictures. This book is great for kids to peruse on their own time....
- Where the Wild Things Are I've never enjoyed this book or any other Maurice Sendak's books. I find his books to be anti-parent---which is a sentiment I don't want my children to mimic. Later, I watched an interview about much Maurice Sendak actually disliked children. Seriously. Plus Pierre I Don't Care is the worst children's book ever.
Easy Rule #2390- Reading to your children every day is the most important learning tool- make it fun for everyone!