Top 5 Books For Toddlers--Review
Buying Books For Babies
Choosing books for babies and toddlers is party of the fun of family reading. Books meant to be read aloud should be fun for both the parent's and the children. They should have just the right balance of text and pictures to delight everyone.
I am not the sort of person who reads the online lists of "best" or "hottest" books when buying children's books. I dig through second hand stores, dollar stores, and rummage sales for any book that is in good enough condition to buy.
Over the last two years, I have stumbled across some very good, and some very bad children's books. Some of them, I found out later, are actually quite famous.
Others are books that I bought because I enjoyed them in childhood, and several are books that I purchased because they were available or because my daughter wanted them.
Of this wide assortment, I am reviewing 5 products. Two that are popular children's books, and three that I just personally think are wonderful for reading aloud. They are the right length (babies have short attention spans) and enjoyable for both the child and the parent.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
This book, by Bill Martin, Jr. is one of those books that I bought because it had interesting artwork. I fell in love with the concept of the book as soon as I read it. It does not have a story line, but rather consists of a chain of questions, each leading to the next page.
Apparently this book has been charming people for years. It was first published in 1967and since then has been used in traditional as well as home school programs to enhance language, color, and observation skills.
A disadvantage to this book is that, while the illustrations are charming, they are hard for very young children to identify. Eric Carle the illustrator (you may know him as the man that wrote and illustrated "They Very Hungry Caterpillar") creates wonderful, slightly cubist, collage images of animals. For older children, this can be a great way to introduce different aspects and forms of art.
My Race Into Space
I found this book for 50 cents at Big Lots. Its very hard to find cheap board books here, and I hate overpaying for books that are going to be used as teething toys.
A lot of board books that I have been able to find are only good for teething...the creativity and pictures leave a lot to be desired.
"My Race into Space" though, turned out to be a very good buy. The story is in poem format, and shows a little boy imagining his travels through space with his dog. The tale itself is cute, the poem is good, and best of all, it introduces your child to the planets and other bodies in the solar system.
Only at one point did it seem like the author became a little desperate to make the rhyme work, but it didn't hurt the story any. Unlike some of the other books I have mentioned, I have no problems with the illustrations in this one. They are easily recognized even by a young toddler.
Horns To Toes And In Between
This book by Sandra Bloynton is an introduction to body parts. We follow three adorable monsters as they describe their hands, tummies, ears, and so forth.
It is a fun way to engage babies in self-discovery, although very few babies have horns or tails like these monsters...so you might have to skip those parts.
This was another book I happened across by chance, and had no idea it was so well known. It is also frequently used as an educational resource.
If you are looking for a book that has cute pictures, a great rhyme, and learning potential, then this is a great investment. It would make a cute baby shower gift as well.
Older Kid Books That Toddlers Might Love
Any book that is fun to read aloud can be enjoyed by toddlers.
- Little House on The Prairie
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
- Ramona Books
- James and The Giant Peach
- The Wizard of Oz
Monkeys In The Jungle
This charming book by Angie Sage (you might know her as the author of the Septimus Heap books) is colorful, fun, and one of the better rhyming books. Personally I hate reading a children's book where it seems the poetry is thrown together at random just to create a rhyme. No need to worry about that here.
"Monkeys In the Jungle" is easy to read aloud. It long enough to enjoy, yet short enough that it keeps a young child interested. On each page you see different animals with a mention of where they like to live.
At the end of the book all of the animals are hiding, and you and your child get to find them all in the picture. (this is harder than it sounds. Some of them are hidden as well as Waldo.)
The only problem I had with the illustrations in this book was when the lions made an appearance. They don't exactly look like lions, but it is cute enough to ignore that fact.
A only real disadvantage to this book is that it is hard to find, and pretty pricey. I lucked into it at a yard sale, and the owner gave it to me for free because it was starting to rain!
Green Eggs and Ham
I could have chosen any of Dr. Seuss' books for this list, because they are all charming to read aloud. Except perhaps "Oh Say Can You Say", which is a book of tongue-twisters. "Green Eggs and Ham" is not even my personal favorite Seuss book, but it is one of the best to read to young children.
It has Seuss' trademark rhythm, and some of his strangest illustrations. Unlike his more complex works such as ''Wacky Wednesday", this book introduces children to the basic rhyming words that will haunt them throughout their first year of learning to write.
Rhyming groups include:
Even if you have never read "Green Eggs and Ham", I'm sure you remember those words from the early days of penmanship. That is intentional. Not only do they sound pleasing to a baby's ear, (babies love sing-song rhymes), but they help develop the concept of similar sounding words.
Drawbacks to this book are few, but they do exist. For instance, if you are buying any Dr. Seuss book new, it is going to cost close to $10 in some stores. Used editions are difficult to find, and are usually in very poor condition.
Also, if you are teaching a baby to recognize pictures in books, Dr. Seuss' illustrations are not the best examples. It is sometimes difficult for adults to clearly recognize some of his imaginative representations. Imagine how peculiar they must look to babies!
Still, "Green Eggs and Ham" is my number one recommendation, either to buy for your own child, or as a gift to someone expecting a baby. It will remain a treasured gift for years.
Do You Love Any Of These Books?
Final Word About These Children's Books
There are many more wonderful books out there for babies and toddlers. These are just a few of the ones I have personal experience reading, and that my daughter loves.
Each one has bright illustrations and nice poetry.They are also educational, (teaching body parts, where animals live, colors, numbers, the solar system and rhyming words) and can give you a great opportunity to interact with your child as you read to him or her.
Helping Kids Love Books
Kids respond well to books when they are allowed to explore reading at their own pace, while still being encouraged and introduced to new concepts and ideas.
Tips For A Reader Friendly Home
Merely having books on a shelf isn't enough to encourage a child's love of reading. Parent's have to take an active role in reading, since children learn by imitating their parents. Here are some ways to make your home a reader-friendly environment, for readers of all ages.
- Always have books in easy-to-access areas.
- Keep books for all ages on lower shelves that children can reach.
- Provide comfortable reading areas that are well-lit.
- Read often. Even if it is a newspaper or magazine.
- Read aloud. Not just storybooks. Read newspapers, ingredients, magazines, web pages...
- Take trips to libraries and bookstores.
- Treat books with respect.
- Give and receive books with excitement and enthusiasm.
- Include books in stockings, Easter baskets, and other gift sets
- Let children choose books, even if they are the "wrong" level.
- Be available to help with difficult words or meanings.
- Never make reading seem like a chore or a punishment
- Provide a variety of books
- Keep coffee table books where guests can also enjoy them.
- Let children join in literary discussions.
- Read books before watching the respective movies.
- Have a family reading circle, where everyone takes turns reading from a chapter book.
It is very important to encourage (not push) children to enjoy reading. It is equally important to let an individual child choose his or her own reading level. Too many children are either held back or pushed forward when it comes to their skill levels. This can lead to frustration and a permanent dislike of reading.
Most importantly, make reading fun. Your enthusiasm and respect towards books will instill a strong message of how important the written word is.