The best gift you can give to your child is your time, and there is no better one-on-one time than to snuggle up before bed and read. Reading is the perfect way to wind down and relax before going to bed. Reading not only helps children fall asleep faster and easier, it fosters and encourages imaginations for play time. Nighttime reading inspires daytime play.
Birth to age three are the most critical years for the development of language skills that are foundational for future learning success. It’s important to remember that reading is a skill, not a natural talent. Parents are a child’s first and most important teachers. Besides, is there anything better than sharing a good book with your child in your lap?
Children are made readers on the lap of their parents. – Emilie Buchwald
As fun as it is to start a library for your baby, it can also be quite overwhelming. There are thousands of choices of books in all shapes and sizes and subjects. There’s a science to finding the perfect balance of magnificent illustrations with rhythmic sounds while keeping the attention of youngsters, not to mention the busy minds of mom and dad! So, we’ve done the work for you and narrowed down our top 15 picks for your toddler’s library that you’ll enjoy reading as much as your little one.
1. Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
Brown tells the tale of what animals do on the farm while the farmer and children are away. This book has it all: It is beautifully written in a calming tone while still keeping the reader engaged. Parents and children alike will not tire of reading Big Red Barn.
2. Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
Little Blue Truck communicates (“Beep!”) with his farm animal friends while showing the value and rewards of kindness and friendship. The rhymes and illustrations will have your child asking for an encore.
3. Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill
Your child will love going on a search for Spot. Encourage extra giggles by giving your best animal sounds as you lift the flaps and discover a lion or alligator or bear.
4. My Monster Mama Loves Me So by Laura Leuck
If your child loves silly with a touch of spook, then this is the book they’ll be begging to read each night. This little monster tells the reader of the many ways in which he knows his mama loves him, and it’s sweet, imaginative and cute all rolled up into a fun and entertaining package. It proves that even monster mamas love their babies with all their hearts.
5. Duck in the Truck by Jez Alborough
Follow the adventures of Duck as his truck gets stuck in the muck. This will be an instant favorite for any child with its funny and rhythmic text. It will also work as a good example to teach children the importance of treating others with kindness as duck is amusing while at the same time not so nice to his friends.
6. The Goodnight Train by June Sobel
If you’re searching for the perfect wind-down story for bedtime, then look no further than The Goodnight Train. With its soothing rhythmic words and train sounds, your child will be engrossed with the beautifully written story and captivating illustrations while ready to pull into Dreamland. This is truly a must-have for a nighttime routine.
7. I am a Bunny by Richard Scarry
This classic follows Nicholas the Bunny as he learns about the four seasons. It’s a sweet story mixed with appealing illustrations; a perfect combination for any toddler’s book collection.
8. Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
A baby bird goes on the search for his mother and cuteness ensues. Be sure to turn on your best animal voices for each critter in order to fully appreciate this tale.
9. First Look and Find Series
The First Look and Find series of books has many choices to suit your child’s interests, from Thomas the Train to Scooby Doo to Minnie Mouse, so there’s surely something your little one will love. They are the perfect “quiet time” book for your child to sit alone (or on your lap) and find the hidden objects.
10. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
Similar to Where’s Spot?, Dear Zoo will bring endless entertainment as your child finds surprises behind each flap. This is a great way to introduce the idea of bringing a new pet to the family as well as talk about the different kinds of animals at the zoo.
11. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
Really, you can’t go wrong with anything by Dr. Seuss. The options are endless, ranging from fun rhymes to silly outlandishness. But for toddlers, Green Eggs and Ham is a true winner. Not only is it hilarious, it broaches the discussion of being a picky eater in a playful way.
12. Fisher Price Little People Lift the Flap Books
There are dozens of options for the Lift the Flap books featuring the friendly Little People faces. Animals, vehicles, starting school, careers, holidays; really any subject you can think of. Anything that your child may love or any holiday or event you’d like to teach them about and you’re likely to find a fun, interesting way to entertain your child while learning about it.
13. Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae
Gerald the Giraffe is embarrassed when he dances in front of the other animals until he learns that he just needs to find his own groove. This is a story about being yourself and a good way to talk about not making fun of friends who are different.
14. Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasan
A soothing bedtime story about Little Owl’s wonderful adventures with other nocturnal animal friends. The perfect way to end the day and welcome a dreamful sleep.
15. The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen
Exhausted from dealing with an emotional toddler? The Pout-Pout Fish helps put into words (with the help of whimsical illustrations) how one chooses how to react to situations and how positivity can turn your day around: something even us grumpy adults can be reminded of every now and then.
While this list gives a perfect starting point, there are truly magnificent books filling the shelves of your local bookstore. Have fun with reading, and your child will learn to do the same.
Photo Credit: Melissa Wistehuff