The Toddler’s Bookshelf.

I have extremely unique criteria for picture books that make it onto my toddler’s bookshelf.

The books need to have pretty pictures with plenty of opportunity for discussion. Sometimes we just want to look at the pictures and talk about the pictures so there needs to be something to talk about — colors to name, things to count, people to assign outlandish backstories.

The books need only a very small amount of words. If I open a book and see even one full paragraph, I won’t buy it. I don’t care if it will teach her how to speak French on a tightrope.

I know from experience that I will be reading these books over and over and over and over and if you are tired of reading the word over in this paragraph, just imagine how tired you will be of reading ALL THOSE WORDS a million times.

I am such a book nerd. Or a book lover. And definitely a book sucker. I buy a LOT of books for Babystar.

I used to read all the time and I suspect I will get to read big girl books again. Someday.

For now, I read and reread books with Babystar. Our recent top ten favorites are stacked (in no particular order) beside my bed for easy morning story times.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that if you click through and purchase anything, I may earn a small commission. You will earn my eternal gratitude.

book on shelf

10. This book will not be fun. by Cirocco Dunlap and Olivier Tallec. There is absolutely nothing educational about this book. Don’t even buy it. I mean, I guess you could talk about all the fun pictures. But you could draw your own pictures. Or maybe you could just laugh with your toddler about the silly story. Nevermind, get a joke book instead. OBVIOUSLY KIDDING! This book is so silly. And I don’t know if you heard, but toddlers love things that are silly. I know. I just heard the news myself. ($10.99 at Costco.)

9. Green Lizards vs Red Rectangles by Steve Antony. We got this book when the baby was only six months old strictly for my amusement. And then I accidentally taught her about red and green and rectangles with this book. Whoops. The pictures are simple and fun, though there are some battle scenes. But remember, the battle is between cartoon lizards and rectangles. Actual rectangles. Smart rectangles. I still find this hilarious. (Bought during a trip to Grammy’s in Myrtle Beach.)

8. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems. I love the Pigeon so much. My two older kids and I STILL like to read the pigeon books out loud to one another in bookstores. Still. They are 20 and 18 years old. I obviously had to add this book to the Toddler’s Bookshelf. She’s such a sweet little thing that she ALWAYS lets the pigeon drive the bus. And I always laugh. ($14.41 at Barnes and Noble.)

7. I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen. I ADORE this book. A Bear loses his hat and goes on a search to find it. The bear is very polite in his search. A fun unexpected outcome of reading this book five hundred times is that now Babystar sometimes says, “thank you anyway” and the random solemn politeness is adorable. But this book is SAVAGE AF. If you want to avoid all violence, skip the last page a la Phoebe’s mom in Friends. I won’t spoil the book. I would never spoil the ending for you. Don’t ask me anymore questions. Just kidding, Bear totally eats the Rabbit. But like, off camera. ($10.99 at Costco.)

I want my hat back

6. Please, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony. We bought this book when Babystar was only a few weeks old because the black and white pictures in the book are apparently good for infants. I read it to her a million times, and now, she reads it to herself. Or her stuffed animals. Or her rocks. This book is all about a panda offering donuts to his animal friends and then changing his mind. Until finally, the lemur says ‘please’. And *spoiler alert* the lemur gets all the donuts. Basic but fun. And Mr. Panda’s got sass. (Posted about it in July 2015.)

Please Mr Panda book

5. Goose by Laura Wall. This book is about a little girl named Sophie and a goose. At a park. On a seesaw. Babystar has a sister named Sophie and she looooves to go to the park. And play on seesaws. Plus there is a little orange Tillie cat on many of the pages. This book is basically all of Babystar’s favorite things. We found this book at the library but quickly realized that we needed a copy at home. This is one of the toddler’s favorite books to read to her rocks. The words match the pictures and the story is easy to follow. (We have had this one for a few months.)

4. This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen. Jon Klassen does not play. When a little fish steals a hat from a big fish, he tries to hide. But a crab rats him out and the Food Chain happens. Again, OFF CAMERA. But it is totally implied. So, you know, don’t steal. Good lesson. Ok, truthfully, we bought this book when Babystar was super little and I just wanted books that entertained ME since I was reading to her all the time. But now she totally understands. It’s fine. Right? (Posted about it in July 2015.)

3. I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt and Cyd Moore. This book was a ‘welcome to the world’ gift from big sister to Babystar. I have been reading it to her since she was born, and she still asks for it all the time. There are about a million ‘I Love You’ books for kids, but this one stands out for its sweet silliness. Would you still love the baby if baby was a swamp monster? Or an alien from Mars?

I love you Stinky Face

2. They All Saw a Cat by Brenden Wenzel. This is the prettiest picture book on the shelf. The story is simple and wonderful. It is a story of a cat ‘walking through the world’ and the pictures show how other creatures in the world view the cat. Some of the pictures are thought-provoking, like the mouse seeing the cat as a terrifying monster. Some of the pictures are pseudo-scientific, like the bee seeing the cat in millions of of tiny circles. This  one might be Babystar’s MOST favorite book. She asks for it all the time, and has memorized this one almost verbatim. ($10.99 at Costco.)

They All Saw a Cat

1. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. Classic af. I know all the words by heart, STILL, from reading this book to my son in the Nineties. Obvious choice. ($15.16 at Barnes and Noble.)

What is your favorite bedtime story?




Llama llama, MORE BOOKS MAMA!

Dude. I can tell myself over and over that Babystar has ENOUGH STUFF, and I am totally right. But I keep buying her books.

She loves books. She ‘reads’ her books to herself and her friends. (Her friends are stuffed animals.) She reads her books to Tillie the Kitten, who seems oddly into it. She brings her books everywhere and will ask anyone to read to her. Her books ward away toddler meltdowns. Her books are fucking magic.

(Yes, I know about libraries. I love the library. I also know that if my kid likes to lick her books, other kids probably do also. I mean, duh, licking books is SO LIT. So we don’t check out board books or ‘beginning reader’ books from the library. We do check out story books from the library, but those are read TO her by an adult under highly supervised situations.)

Last week, I bought a six-pack of ‘Learn-to-Read’ Little Critter books at Costco for $9.99. We already love Little Critter, and the kid needs practice on NOT RIPPING PAGES of non-board books. At less than two dollars per book, this seems like a nice price point for practice. And — bonus! — maybe she will in fact learn to read.


Then on Saturday, we bought two new board books from the last of the big box brick and mortar bookstores, Barnes & Noble, for $16.98. We also joined their Kid’s Club, which is totally free! (Their adult version is $25 so free is awesome.) You get $5 off for each cool hundred that you drop in their store (books totally add up quickly tho) and the kids get a free cupcake on their birthday from the cafe. And they probably email you some coupons and stuff, I’m assuming. Since they asked for my email address. Or maybe they just want to sell it to make some money to pay the rent since everyone buys books on Amazon these days. (Which I totally get because I could have saved $3.08 buying them on Amazon. But I like to touch books and I miss bookstores.) Either way, I’m kind of cool with it.


MAMAS AND PAPAS AND ANYONE WHO HANGS OUT WITH THE LITTLES: How old was your kids when you started checking out library books? And do you prefer Amazon’s prices and convenience or the magical experience of actual bookstores? (I like a good combo platter myself.)


A Kitten and a Goose.

We have a new member of the family. Meet Tillie.

Yes, we have a kitten. I already love her but what the hell was I thinking!?

Tillie moved in just four days before all of the parties and the people and the everything and I think I was sleep-deprived and my omg-cute-kitty brain overruled my logical brain and now we have a kitten. I’m not sure how much I can blame Babystar. The oldest two kids have been begging for a kitten for YEARS. The husband has wanted more cats since our previous super awesome sibling cats passed away within a week of each other very early in my pregnancy. Well, ever since he got over their passing. They were really cool cats, and he already had them when we met. (RIP Lando and Possum.)

We live very close to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, and we often stop in during our walks to say hello to the animals. And apparently it is Kitten Season. Babystar always liked the animals, but on the visit in question, she fell in HEAD OVER HEELS LOVE with a particular kitten. He was gray and white and his name was Frankenstein and he had a sister that was also available for adoption. She sat in front of his cage and talked to him and played with him for so long that I decided to adopt them both. When I asked about them, I found out that a couple was literally filling out the paperwork at that very moment to adopt them both. I saw them; they looked nice. Case closed, right?


I made the mistake of texting pictures of Babystar and kitten to the fam. Whoops. The Teenager was up, showered, and at the park to meet us and plead her Kitten Case within the hour. So we stopped in again on the way home from the park for no reason other than to see if Babystar went to the same kitten.

Of course she did.

But Frankenstein already had a family, as I explained once to the ToddlerMonster and about fifty times to the TeenageMonster.

And then we met Tillie. She was in the cage next to Frankenstein, and her name was actually Lily. There were two identical cats listed on the picture, named Lily and Millie. But only one kitten was inside.

Someone had just adopted Millie and left Lily behind.

So of course we decided that the ToddlerMonster would make a fine kitty-sister for her, and we immediately adopted Lily and changed her name to Tillie. (Well, actually they were about to close so it was the next day right when the AWLA opened but immediately sounds so much better.)

Babystar was choosing a collar and toys for her and then running to show her (!!!) while I filled out the paperwork. It was adorable. And they really are like siblings. They fight over toys and attention and already love to play with each other.

But the kitten isn’t on Babystar’s tab. It was time for more cats. Or cat, singular, in this case. If anything, Babystar is the reason we didn’t get two.

Oh, and the Goose. We checked out a few story books at the library recently, and Babystar became enamored with one of them. Goose, by Laura Wall. She asked to read this book over and over and over and she can now ‘read’ it herself. I highly recommend this book, and we bought her a copy from Amazon for $7.20 (it’s still on sale!).

(No, that is not an affiliate link. I need to learn how to do that next-level blogging stuff. It’s just there because it is a cool book. If you buy it and you like it, feel free to mail me a quarter or whatever. Just kidding but for real could someone teach me how to make money blogging?)



College Applications.

Just kidding. Babystar is a long way from college. The Teenager has spent the winter meeting application deadlines for school in the fall. Not the baby. That would be ridiculous.


Apparently not.

We just spent $100 on preschool applications for the fall. One application was $75 and I already know that Babystar is waitlisted. One was $25 but we have not heard back yet.

All the local mamas told me to try for at least three preschools, hoping to get into one. I didn’t listen; I only submitted two applications. But dude. She’s not even two (well, she will be two in the fall). I sort of figure that my ‘Option Three’ will be to not send her to preschool in the fall. Two-year-old classes are only two days a week for like three hours. It’s a big step, but also, it’s totally fine if she doesn’t go. Right?


(Just kidding. Probably. Hopefully.)

Btw, that video was taken at the library, which is FREE, although we did buy a Little Critter Numbers board book for fifty cents from the library sale.