Back in March, when Sammy was only seven months, I posted Raising a Boy Who Wants to Read. At that time, I was just started to notice some excitement in Sammy when we would pull out certain books. I am so, so happy to report that his love of books has grown, and reading is perhaps one of his favorite activities of the day.
And believe me - I am trying hard not to take this for granted. A lot of toddlers have little to no attention span for activities like sitting still and reading books, and I'm sure we'll encounter a few issues ourselves within the next few years. But for now - that little face absolutely lights up when we pull out a few books. And nothing melts my heart more than the backward scoot into my lap that Sammy has perfected, which is our reading position of choice.
Now this is not to say that Sammy loves any and all books. For the past few months, we've had a few standards. I sometimes worry that our favorites are becoming a bit too babyish, and have tried to incorporate a few lengthier books into the rotation. We'll see what this list looks like a few months down the road.
First Alphabet and First Words
Big Boards Books Colors, ABCs and Counting
I'm linking all three of these books together as they're all quite similar. They each showcase actual photos of objects, simple words, and are bold and bright throughout. These are - by far - Sammy's absolute favorite books. (The Colors, ABCs and Counting book being his numero uno choice.) He loves pointing to various pictures, and I'll tell him what each object is. Lately I've tried asking him to point to objects that I know he is familiar with. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't. I also try and focus on objects / words we may have recently encountered (and skip over things he's never seen) in hopes of sparking some sort of recognition. I think these books are Sammy's favorites as his most used phrase is, "What's 'dat?" So this allows him the opportunity to question me about one trillion times.
Hallmark Recordable books
For Sammy's first birthday, James' family recorded a book for Sammy - each family member recording a separate page - and I can't begin to describe how much Sammy is in love with this book. He opens it and plays each page a million times a day. (And somehow the battery has yet to wear out.) I know this might not qualify this option as a book book, per se, but I think the idea is fabulous. It still engages Sammy, and it's great for him to hear the voices of family members that he doesn't get to see as often.
(Note that the above book is not the one that we have, but with the holidays coming up, I think it would be a fantastic gift!)
Where is Baby's Pumpkin
We're still on a pretty big Karen Katz kick, though I do notice that Sammy's interest in these books is dwindling just slightly. (Thank goodness as many of our books are now missing numerous flaps.) He continues to love that he gets to interact with these books and pull the flaps, and I continue to love that they teach him various body parts, objects, etc.
Llama Llama Red Pajama
We love the Llama Llama series, especially before bedtime. I'm pretty sure that Sammy enjoys the rhyming and repetition, whereas I enjoy the fact that there's a bit more narration in these books, as opposed to some of our other favorites. However, we've had to have a few discussions about Llama Llama being a bit of a pansy, and missing his mama too much. (Which is also rather timely, as Sammy appears to be going through a bit of a stranger danger phase right now.)
The Hungry Caterpillar
I never really understood the appeal of this book to kids, and was actually a bit surprised that Sammy took to it so much. But he loves looking at all the various fruits, and on Saturday, when the hungry caterpillar eats through a zillion different items, Sammy gets quite excited. He loves trying to stick his little index finger through all the holes, and our favorite part is the very end, when the caterpillar turns into a beautiful butterfly.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear
This book has been a favorite for months and months now. It's finally moving to the bottom of our favorites rotation, but I can see why it's a classic - the repetition, the different animals, the different colors.... Our only issue is that Sammy likes to turn the pages super quickly to see what comes next, and my mouth can only move so fast to keep up.
Richard Scarry's Cars and Automobiles
I have a special fondness for all things Richard Scarry, as I remember reading so many of his stories when I was a child. Sammy is still a bit young for some of his books, as most contain very busy illustrations and text, but this little board book is perfect for his age. He is obsessed with cars and trucks ("gucks"), so this book is everything he loves. He enjoys going back to certain pages and making me repeat the name of each "guck".
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
This is one of our newer books, and I honestly only bought it as I kept seeing it mentioned on a few blogs I read. I had never heard of it before! It took Sammy a little while before he got into it, but I'm not surprised that he enjoys it. Ever since he was an infant, there was something about singing the alphabet to him that just calmed him down completely. This book goes through the alphabet a couple times and it gives us an opportunity to make some loud noises ("boom boom" is repeated throughout).
Sandra Boynton Barnyard Dance
I know babies and toddlers are obsessed with Sandra Boynton books, but I never really understood it. We own Barnyard Dance, Opposites, and Blue Hat, Green Hat, and Sammy never really took to them - until recently. He is especially into Barnyard Dance as we sing through the entire book, and it showcases various animal sounds.
Go, Dog. Go!
This was one of my favorite books growing up, and the first book I ever bought for Sammy after finding out I was pregnant with him. It's a bit lengthy, and we don't often get through the book in its entirety, but Sammy loves this book. Primarily because it includes some of his favorite words ("go" and "dog" [also a "guck"]). I like it because it showcases concepts such as big, small, day, night, over and under.
I am by no means an expert in getting kids to read, and perhaps I've just been super lucky with Sammy. But I've definitely learned some great tips over the past year.
- Keep books in various places throughout the house. We read - a lot. And I think this is because we keep books in his bedroom and in our living room - both major play areas. Whenever he gets tired of his toys, there is always a stack of books nearby.
- At the very least, incorporate reading into the bedtime routine. It's a great opportunity to calm down and relax, and to get kids to drink that last cup of milk of the day.
- Incorporate both interactive and non-interactive books into your repertoire. As I mentioned above, Sammy loves books where he can point to the things and I'll respond. He also loves the books where he can touch various textures and lift flaps. But in between all that activity, I try to read a few non-interactive books just so he can get used to what "older kid" books are really like.
- At this particular age, I'm finding that the less narration, the better. I made the mistake of buying this Eric Carle book, and this Eric Carle book, and they are just awful. Even though they're both board books, there is a ton of small font text. (Not to mention, the story lines are horribly boring.) Sammy definitely doesn't have the attention span for more than a few lines of text per page. At least for now.
- Kids like animal sounds, repetition and singing, and thus they will like books that incorporate these things. I don't need to say much more on that.
- We're still very into board books. Did you know that by age one, all babies should understand that books are read left to right? I remember a librarian telling us this back when Sammy was still an infant, and automatically I got a little panicked. What if he didn't reach this milestone?? It was never an issue, but I think the fact that we read mostly board books helped. Sammy loves helping to turn the pages of a book, and I don't stop him. Also, we're at the stage where some of our books receive a bit of abuse (I'm looking at you Karen Katz books), so the sturdiness of the board books is helpful.