Do you feel like you are reading the same books to your toddler again and again? You probably are, but some books certainly get old faster than others. Here is the list of books we loved reading to our toddlers. Again and again.
When our son turned eighteen months, it seemed like an important date. Even before he was born, my mom would tell me stories about how I started talking around eighteen months. A friend would say that she felt ready for another little one when her first son turned eighteen months. Another friend would mention how they started doing many things together with her daughter around that time. It seemed like everyone had a story to tell about eighteen months, and when the day came, I felt excited about him becoming one and a half! It also seemed like a good time to take a look at his toys and put some away as he did not play with them anymore, and make mental notes of what we found useful and what was used only fleetingly. The same went for books.
As soon as I discovered being pregnant, I started visiting book sales and thrift shores, hunting for interesting synopses and charming illustrations in children’s books. I remembered titles I liked as a kid, and I tracked them down on-line, often ordering books that were out of print, but could still be found at some small store in a different country. As the shelves filled quickly, I started choosing more carefully. I thought, “I am going to read these books hundreds of times. I need to really enjoy them too!” So I no longer left shops with ten books at a time, but thoughtfully selected a few that looked especially good.
When Budster grew fond of books, he did his own selecting, sometimes ignoring a book for months, then falling in love with it and requesting to read it three or four times a day. That happened with Peepo! – I was sure this charming book about a baby would be one of the first to interest him, but he did not want to listen to it and insisted on going on a bear hunt for the hundredth time. I gave up, and months later he fond Peepo! and wanted to read it again and again. I can recite it by memory now, along with all of his other favourites.
Ten Books to Take to an Uninhibited Island
When I studied literature in university, my friends and I once entertained ourselves with making a list of ten books we would take on a vacation to an uninhibited island if we could only put ten in a suitcase. If we were going on such a vacation now, this is how I imagine my son’s suitcase now.
1. Bear Snores on by Karma Wilson: Review. Also check Bear Wants More: Review.
2. Cave Baby by Julia Donaldson: Review
3. Goodnight Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker
4. Peepo! by Janet Ahlberg, Allan Ahlberg
5. Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson: Review
6. Birds of a Feather by Bernadette Gervais and Francesco Pittau: Review
7. Listen, Listen by Phillis Gershator: Review
8. In the Town All Year Round by Rotraut Susanne Berner: Review
9. Hat by Jan Brett
10. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rozen: Review
For an adult whose day consists of established routine, it is amazing what a leap a child takes in those six months that separate a one-year-old from a one-and-a-half-year-old. It is just as noticeable in book choices. From enjoying the book My First Words where simple words were illustrated by photographs, Budster went on to studying birds and ocean creatures, whose names I sometimes struggle to remember. I think that many of these books will be interesting to him for a while. He loves looking at the pictures of Out of Sight and Big Book of Animals, asking for the names of animals again and again, and in the future he can study all the fascinating facts about the animals from these books.
1. My First Book of Words by Joanna Bicknell
2. My First Book of Animals by Joanna Bicknell: Review
3. Dog by Mathew van Fleet: Review. Also check Cats by Mathew van Fleet.
4. Moo by Mathew van Fleet: Review
5. Tails by Mathew van Fleet: Review. Also check Heads by Mathew van Fleet.
6. Out of Sight by Bernadette Gervais and Francesco Pittau: Review. Also check Open Ocean by Bernadette Gervais and Francesco Pittau.
7. The Usborne Big Book of Big Animals by Hazel Maskell
8. Color Surprises by Chuck Murphy: Review
9. Sounds of the Wild: Ocean by Maurice Pledger: Review. Also check other books in Sounds of the Wild series by Maurice Pledger.
When my son was not yet a month old, I started with reading poems to him, thinking that even if he does not understand the words, he will enjoy the rhythm and rhyme. That may be why he is very fond of poetry, and we have many books with rhymed stories and short poems.
1. Favorite Nursery Rhymes from Mother Goose with illustrations by Scott Gustafson
2. Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
3. Moo, Baa, Lalala by Sandra Boynton: Review
4. Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do You Hear? by Eric Carle: Review
5. A Squash and a Squeeze by Julia Donaldson
6. Monkey Puzzle by Julia Donaldson: Review
7. The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson
8. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson: Very Short Review
9. Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox
10. Orange, Pear, Apple, Bear by Emily Gravett: Review
11. Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young by Jack Prelutsky
12. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss: Review
13. Mr Brown Can Moo, Can You? by Dr Seuss
14. Haiku Baby by Betsy E. Snider: Review
At the beginning of his second year, my son was attracted to poetic texts noticeably more than to narrative ones. However, he started growing interest in the later over the last months, and even chose a couple of unlikely favourites that I initially got “for the future”. He developed fondness for vehicles, and for a while he could not put Freddie Fixer Builds a Car down. The big advantage of prose is that I can simplify the text for him, and it will still sound just right!
1. Annie and the Wild Animals by Jan Brett
2. Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Jan Brett
3. The Mitten by Jan Brett
4. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell: Review
5. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle: Review
6. Click, Cluck, Moo: Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin
7. The Acorn and the Oak Tree by Lori Froeb
8. Dogs by Emily Gravett
9. Freddy Fixer Builds a Car by George Johansson
10. The Tiger who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr
11. But no Elephants by Jerry Smath
12. Millie Waits for the Mail by Alexander Steffensmeier
Wordless books never stay the same as you can change the story every time. When we read Goodnight, Gorilla, sometimes the zookeeper has a name, and other times he is simply Zookeeper. Once, his name was Zoo Keeper, and his wife turned into Mrs. Keeper.
Wordless books are excellent for children who want to start “reading” by themselves, and my son often has one or two by our dining table, so that he could entertain himself while we are finishing our meal. He likes it!
Of course, one cannot have all the books in the world, and there are plenty of great books out there that we did not get to read. What were your favourite books to read to your children when they were around one?
If you are curious about our choice for the first year, check our first favourite books list.
If you like giving books as gifts, here are our favourite picture books to give to friends!
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