We are definitely a reading house. I can safely say I probably read hundreds of books a year (thanks for keeping me from bankruptcy, Libby!) and my mother was an early literacy coach at the local Parent Child Centre when I was growing up, so I spent a lot of time considering reading material and what makes reading interesting and engaging for kids. We have a reading area upstairs at our house with all of our just for fun books (fiction and non fiction) and both adult and kid books in the same place – because I strongly believe them seeing us reading and browsing and talking about books matters. Downstairs in our main living area with have a reading nook with a small bookshelf for each of them where they can grab whatever they’re interested in. I rotate these when I remember (read; very infrequently). But in the meantime we also have a seasonal book basket next to the fireplace and that often ends up being our most read aloud books as the kids ask for them throughout the day.
I want to highlight a few of these because they are interesting or notable for something so you can see some of our favourites – these are a complete mishmash of old and new, stuff the kids like and stuff the adults like, and general books that apply to something we’re doing.
Best books for M(21 months):
Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson
This one was a huge hit with V at a similar age and M is no different – it’s about the growth of a tree and is all actions. If you’re not great at involving your little in what’s happening in the story this is the book for you because it tells your little exactly what to do before you turn the page. They LOVE making it go and now don’t need us to read the words and will do the action when they see the page. Perfect toddler book.
Spring is Here by Taro Gomi
M is really into this one right now and to be honest I’m not exactly sure why – maybe the super bold graphic images? There’s not much in the way of story but it takes you through the seasons and has some fun actions and there is lots of contrast for the youngest readers.
Best books for V(3.5 years):
An Egg is Quiet by Diana Hutts Aston
This is actually kind of a funny story – we were out in the backyard and out of nowhere a great blue heron flew overhead and landed on our neighbour’s roof. Now this is highly unusual, we live in a big city and I’ve lived in this neighbourhood for 20 years and never seen one here. V was a bit put off by the size and our excitement so she had lots of questions. So we’re on a bit of a bird kick around here and this book is great. V loves to find the heron egg and look at the pretty colours and learn about hatching. I love the illustrations and the learning level is just right for her right now.
The Big Book of Birds by Yuval Zommer
Again stemming from the heron incident, but this is a great one too. V cannot get over the flamingo page where they pee on themselves to cool down. Never fails to make her giggle. Loads of interesting information here, flamingo bathroom habits aside, and it definitely sticks with her, she’s been asking to eat shrimp because it turns flamingoes pink!
The Little Lamb by Judith Dunn
This was actually one of my favourites when I was little and I picked up a copy from Abebooks to be able to share it with V. Not sure why I was so into it but it’s a nice simple story with beautiful pictures about raising a baby lamb and the mischief it gets into. We now use it to practice sounding out words with V since it has good simple words in a clear font.
Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal
We’ve been doing a lot of gardening lately and this is helping V process that, she loves identifying the bugs in the dirt and playing with the hose like the Nana in the book does. We have others from this series and they have a great combination of an interesting story with detailed information about the animals at the end, so we can focus on the ones V is interested in without overloading her. Again this covers all the seasons but it definitely feels spring to me and it’s a great grandma/grand daughter relationship book to boot.
If there’s anything nicer than a cuddle and a read with an interested toddler I don’t know what it is. I genuinely love sharing books with my little people and always love finding new and interesting things to explore.