I really do my best to minimize the sprawl of toys all throughout our house (“try” sometimes being the key word here). The one item I unapologetically have in pretty much every room in the house: a basket of books. Our dining room/kitchen, living room, master bedroom, play room and my son’s room are all adorned with a container of books of some kind. I want my kids to have access to reading whenever their little hearts and minds desire. As I get ready to have a newborn again I’ve been thinking about our massive collection and what I’ve read to my son from infancy to present (2.5 years). There are so many glorious books out there, and this brief list is not meant to be comprehensive or #1’s in each category. They are simply the books that, 1) my son enjoyed as a tiny guy and they remain a top toddler hit for him, and 2) they are the stories or jingles that have also been most enjoyable for me to read over and over and over and…over.
For the Mouthy Little Readers
A handy little collection of books during the teething and “mouthy” phase are the Indestructibles books. They can’t be torn, chewed up and are waterproof – which means they can be sanitized (just mild soap & warm water) and double as bath books! They have bright pictures that seem to interest little minds. I did have times when I wished there were words or a story, but this was strictly for the sake of my entertainment. I think the lack of a story actually helped me to let my son just experience a book without my need to interject the process of reading or staying on track with a story.
My son enjoyed the textures of the Usborne Touchy-Feely books from a young age. Now he knows exactly where each textured area is, what it is called, and (I think) gets a little boost of confidence from feeling like he’s able to “read” them in a way. Similarly, the Jellycat board books offer lots to explore in their cute, quick stories.
Bright Colors, Sweet Stories & Witty Words
Two of our favorite books are Jamberry by Bruce Degen and Sometimes I Like to Curl Up in a Ball by Vicki Churchill. These books have illustrations and words that never seem to get old. I would add Sandra Boynton’s books to this category – I enjoyed her melodic rhymes long before my son understood the actual words, which has helped me to keep having fun after reading number 310. Some of our personal favorites of hers are the Pookie books, Pajama Time and But Not the Hippopotamus.
Beyond Board Books
It seemed to take ages before my son made it to the age of not ripping regular book pages right from the binding. But now that we are onto the next phase, we are loving a couple lengthier books: Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker might need to be a new staple in the toddler libraries of boys and girls alike. Her descriptions for the work that the trucks do are fun, positive and playful. I also appreciate that this book helps get my little man ready for nap or bedtime.
The book that has been my son’s favorite of all for about a year now is Same, Same But Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw. I adore the message of this book: promoting the similarities between all of us as people no matter where we were born, live or what we experience. I truly feel my son grasped the general concept of “sameness” earlier from this book and I hope that continues to grow into a larger and more meaningful concept just as naturally for him. I also liked to think that the reason why my very blonde, blue-eyed boy runs around saying “namaste” is because I’m a yoga teacher. But it is not – it is because he has learned in this book another way to greet a friend.