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.
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.)
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.)
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?
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.)
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?
RAISING BABYSTAR: $22,811.93