Friday, August 5, 2011

Best Books to Read to Toddlers

Reading to your children is one of those foundation activities that every parent should do.  I'm usually a bit cautious making grand statements like this, but in this case, every expert on the planet will agree it's absolutely true.  Why?
  • A parent reading to her child introduces vital language skills.  If mommy reads, then children are drawn to the idea that letters and words work together to make something important to pay attention to.  We've all been through years of school and life, and we all know, being able to read can make or break you in this world.  Our job as parents is to prepare our kids for adult life, and let's be honest; reading skills are a vital part of that.
  • Reading can open new worlds.  Cheesy?  Maybe, but it's absolutely true.  Reading is a sure-fire way to introduce new ideas, encourage learning more advanced vocabulary, and foster a curiousity for learning that just doesn't come up in a normal, home atmosphere without books.
  • Reading time is precious social time with mommy and daddy.  We're busy.  We all know that.  I feel like I'm going a hundred miles an hour all day, but taking time to slow down, relax, and read to your children will make special memories that'll mean the world to them.  Your small sacrifice of 15 to 30 minutes a day will be paid back a hundred-fold.  I promise.  I still remember hearing my father's voice as he read to me all those years ago.
Now, I'm not even going to pretend to start an all-exhaustive list, but there are a few books that ALWAYS come up in my boy's "must read" pile during his pre-bed and pre-nap reading times.  (Keep in mind, he's two and half.)

"Cook-A-Doodle-Doo!" is a to-die-for adorable book about the Little Red Hen's great-grandson who decides he's sick of eating chicken feed and wants to try out cooking like his great granny.  The story is clever.  The writing introduces simple cooking terminology in a GENIUS and incredibly fun way.  The dialogue between the characters made my husband burst out laughing.  And the art is absolutely gorgeous.  (If you know me, I'm a sucker for great illustrations.)  I didn't have this one growing up, but I completely adore it now. 

This is one I grew up with.  "The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear," (besides having the longest title ever) is one of the funnest books to read to toddlers.  The story is about a little mouse who, after picking a strawberry, goes about different methods of hiding it from the bear.  The writing is, again, genius.  My boy can hardly stand the suspense of what's going to happen to the poor strawberry (even after the hundreth reading).  And once again, the illustrations are gorgeous.

A classic, am I right?  "Each Peach Pear Plum" makes a fantastic I-spy game out of beloved nursery characters all while subtly introducing words the rhyme.

"There's a Wocket in my Pocket" is one of Dr. Seuss's many gems.  I love this one, because it's simply written (some of Seuss's books can get a little wordy for a toddler) and is a great introduction to rhyming.  My boy likes it because all the wacky Suess-animals are in familiar settings he recognizes, like under the table, on the ceiling, on the couch, etc.  Being able to recognize stuff is exciting for a two year old who is just getting a grasp on language.

Oh, another classic.  My boy ADORES this book.  It's an absolutely fantastic way to drill colors without your kid knowing what you're up to. :)  Meanwhile, all the familiar animals make my child excited to keep turning pages.

My boy loves the entire series by Laura Numeroff.  Again, it's the recognition thing.  He loves being able to point out things he recognizes, like pancakes, taking a bath, and dancing that all happen in this book.  He gets so excited, and I can totally use that recognition to my advantage.  "Look, the pig is taking a bath!  What letter does bath start with?" I ask him.  "B!" he yells, jumping up and down.  Using familiar words to drill letters is a great way to get todders interested in reading.

Short and sweet.  This is the first book I ever bought for my child.  In just a handful of pages, "The Little Engine That Could" by Piper Watty tells a wonderful story about how anything is possible if you believe in yourself.  What a great lesson to teach your children.

And these are just the tip of the iceberg.  There are SO many good books out there.  What are your favorites?  Why are they so good (aka what lessons do they brilliantly teach)?  I'd love to hear some excellent tips for new books to try out.  I bet with all of us, we can come up with a pretty fantastic list. :)



Megan said...

"Click Clack Moo, Cows that Type" is one that we read quite often at my house. Some others are the "Hungry Caterpillar", "The Cat and the Hat Comes Back", "Oh, The Places You'll Go" (really any Dr. Seuss book gets read a lot at my house). And one of Lucas' all time favorite books is "Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm", we've checked it out multiple times from the library and one we stumbled across is "How I became a Pirate".

Alyssa Harper said...

I LOVE the balloon farm! And I've heard really good things about "How I became a pirate." I'll have to try it out.

Tannie Datwyler said...

The Toot and Puddle series is awesome. Cute books that don't have TONS of words on a page, so good for toddlers.

Usborn books are great too. If you've never bought one, give it a go - I love some of theirs. I especially love their Apple Tree Farm Alphabet book, and I think I've read the Mouse About the House book at least 100 times, LITERALLY.

Chicka Chicka BOOM BOOM and Chicka Chicka 1,2,3 are surefire winners.

And if you are looking for something quirky and cute you should do Cookies: Bite-size life lessons. It teaches all types of awesome words having to do with "manners" and other things. Like wise, optimistic, trust-worthy. It's fabulous.

Anything by Sandra Boyington is a favorite with little kids as well.

There's more... My kids have HUNDREDS of books that I love. I should know, I just boxed them up. But those are the ones that come to mind.

Megan said...

We also have several books by Sandra Boyington.

Heather said...

Not to point out typos, but in case any are looking for her books, it's Sandra Boynton--and I love them, too. : )

For slightly older kids, Berenstain Bears always has a good lesson with a bit of humor tossed in.

Tannie Datwyler said...

Well, you always were great at correcting me when I taught with you Heather. JUST kidding.... :)

Alyssa Harper said...

I've seen Chicka chicka boom boom floating around good book corners. I'll definitely have to give that a try. Thanks, Tannie! And Heather, I LOVE Berenstein Bears books. Grew up on them. Adore them. Still trying to convince my husband to let me buy a large lot of them off ebay. :)

The Fishes said...

How I became a Pirate is a great book as is Pirates don't change Diapers. One my 3 yr old daughter is loving on right now is Alice the Fairy - super cute, especially when she reads it to me! We really like any Little Critter book as well. The Grouchy Ladybug and A Color of His Own are good as wellI could go on for days :)