I love to read. My reading habit is fueled by the mild insomnia I carry. I fall asleep much easily if I read something just for around 20 minutes before going to bed. It helps flush the brain from all the day's thoughts.
Ever since my daughter was a few months old baby, I have been reading lots of baby/toddler books to her. And I don't know whether it's nature or nurture, but she also loves being read to. She now has a library of over 35 books, some of which I bought, some of which are gifted and yet others are hand-me-downs from our family friends. She daily picks out 10 some books and asks me to read them.
She pleasantly surprised us recently by "reading" a book on her own! Of course she can't read yet, but she has pretty well memorized her favorite books and can recite them back all with actions and tones and everything :)
It took me a long time and many book dollars to figure out which ones are great baby/toddler books. Here is an overview of what worked for us. I am hoping it helps another Mom or Dad in need :)
Preferences may differ baby to baby but I hope the basics remain the same:
- buy board-books only, no paperback or hardcovers. Babies and toddlers are not known for being gentle with books!
- Each page should have large pictures
- Each page should ideally have only one small sentence so it's easier for toddler to digest and helps later in speech development
- Rhymes rock! My daughter loves to read along or finish sentences of her rhyming books.
- This is more of a personal preference, but I love any lift the flap books. Your child can start interacting with the flaps and participating in the book reading process long before he can understand the words. I think that makes a big difference in kids enjoying the reading experience.
So here are some of the books we loved the most:
Where is baby's belly button is a really cute lift the flap book about finding a baby's body parts which are each hidden behind something. I love lift the flap books; they are very interactive and kids love to play along. Lift the flaps and simple sentences make this our go-to book. This book is also the first book my daughter "read" on her own.. I love it!
Dear Zoo is another lift the flap book we love. It's about a kid who wrote to the zoo for a pet and zoo sent him various animals but each had a characteristic making it not right for a pet. Finally the zoo sends him a puppy which he loves and keeps as his pet. Great book for kids to learn their animals in a fun and entertaining way!
Blue Hat, Green Hat is a wonderful book specially for speech development, I think. Story is really simple: there is this silly turkey who can't get any of her clothing items put right compared to her other animal friends.. so lines go something like "blue hat, green hat, red hat... oops". The oops is for the turkey who is wearing hat on hands instead of his head. Initially my daughter loved completing the "oops" in every sentence. Then eventually, she started saying "blah hat, blah hat, blah hat, oops" and now that she is learning her colors, she is attempting to get the lines right. One of our favorites!
Oh, the Binky! This was one of the first few books I read her, so I have fond memories of it. A hand-me-down from a family friends but absolutely a keeper! Of all Leslie Patricelli books, this one is my favorite. Story again is a simple one.. a little kid looses his binky and looks for it everywhere and then asks fish, dog, mom & dad who has binky. Finally he finds it in his own crib! Again a fantastic language development book with very simple day to day sentences and attractive pictures.
Potty is another of Leslie Patricelli's book which we are recently finding very useful. It's about a little boy going through potty training and how he overcomes his reluctance of potty. This is a perfect time for us to introduce this book to little one as she and we are entering the much dreaded phase of potty training!!
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See is a book to introduce little ones to animals, colors and basic sentence creation. I have the rare lift the flap version of this book and we all absolutely love it! My daughter is still calling most colors blue or green, but we are getting there and enjoying every step of it :)
All of Dr. Seuss books are great, but my two favorites are: Are You My Mother and Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You. Former is a very sweet story of a little newborn baby bird who can't find his mother and asks various animals on the way if they are his mother. Later is about making funny noises! As with many Dr. Seuss books, they have simple writing and great rhymes. Are You My Mother is my daughter's favorite story to listen to when she can't fall asleep and my favorite one to tell her :)
Last but not least is a really good collection of nursery rhymes. I did not grow up in US so I did not grow up to these rhymes, but I am thoroughly enjoying making up tunes and sing along with my little girl :)
These are our favorites so far! When I am looking to buy new books for her (always the case every few months), I searched around on Internet to find such compiled list, but did not come across many - so here is my attempt in case it helps another parent along.
Whichever book you choose the most important thing is to make sure you and the little one both enjoy the book and cherish the time you spend connecting with each other, making great memories and opening up their worlds! Enjoy!