In honour of this Mother’s Day, we are taking a trip down memory lane and digging up some of our favorite books from when the kids were little – I mean REALLY LITTLE. We have given away so many books over the years, but the books in this list are some we will probably never part with.
In this post, the kids and I came up with our 10 favorite books from when they were under 3 years old. The kids had the final say for which books were included and in what order. They even agreed! Some of these are classics and some of these may surprise you, but we have read each one of these at least 100 times.
10. Peepo by Janet Allan and Janet Ahlberg (1981, Viking, 34 pages)
One, two three
Stands in his cot
What does he see?
What We Love About It: Peepo is a little peek-a-boo book. When you open the book, there is short, rhyming text on the left hand side, beginning with “Here’s a little baby; One, two, three…” On the right side, there is “PEEPO!” with a cut-out circle showing a teaser of what is to come when you turn the page. The next page reveals what the baby is looking at – a lovely scene reminiscent of the early 1950′s with a poetic description of what he sees. Both my kids loved this book. They loved the little rhymes, the Peepo!, the teaser, and then what was revealed. They found it mesmerizing and they loved poking their fingers through the Peepo hole (of course!).
9. Bialosky Book Set by Tedd Arnold (1996, Workman Publishing, 14 pages ea.)
Opening Lines: (from Bialosky’s Bumblebees – A Counting Book)
“I will take a walk and gather flowers,” he said.
What We Love About It: I don’t quite know what it is about these books, but both kids LOVED these books. There are four different books. Each of the books teaches little ones the following concepts: counting, colors, the alphabet, and opposites. I don’t know what to say other than we’ve read these books 100′s of times!
8. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell (1982, Little Simon, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, 20 pages)
They sent me an… *open flap to reveal an elephant*
He was too big!
I sent him back.
What We Love About It: This little book is a classic and a must-have for all parents. Each flap is unique in design and a unique feature about each revealed animal is highlighted (e.g., an elephant is too big, a camel is too grumpy, a frog is too jumpy). My kids absolutely loved opening the flaps and loved repeating the text with me as we read. And, of course, it ends well!
7. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown & illustrated by C. Hurd (1947, HarperCollins Publishers, 32 pages)
There was a telephone
And a red balloon
And a picture of -
What We Love About It: Every parent who has this book in their library will say that they can recite this book by heart. This was the first book in which my kids could point to pictures of the moon, the cow, and the red balloon well before they could verbalize what they were spying in the room. This book is a classic for a reason. We all loved this book.
6. Time for Bed by Mem Fox & Illustrated by J. Dyer (1993, Red Wagon Books, Harcourt, Inc., 32 pages)
Darkness is falling all over the house.
It’s time for bed little goose, little goose,
The stars are out and on the loose.
What We Love About It: The lilting poetry and the beautiful watercolour illustrations of parent and baby animals are what make this book a must-have. I have fond memories of sleepily reading this book to my children as infants cuddling in our rocking chair. See my son’s and my review of Time for Bed.
5. I Love You As Much… by Laura Krauss Melmed & Illustrated by H. Sorensen (1993, HarperCollins Publishers, 24 pages)
“I love you as much as a warm summer breeze.”
Said the mother bear to her child,
“I love you as much as the forest has trees.”
What We Love About It: Ok, let’s examine this book alongside of Time For Bed. Both were published in 1993; both feature parent/baby animals; both feature rhyming lines; and both use beautiful watercolour illustrations. Hmmm….so why is this one higher up in the list? Well, it’s Mother’s Day and I Love You As Much features “Mama” animals!
4. My First Pooh Library by A. A. Milne (Publications International, 12 books, 10 pages ea.)
Opening Lines (from Best Shapes):
A square present!
A triangle that rings!
A round ornament!
What We Love About It: These little board books were well-loved by all of us. Each features a short story featuring the loveable characters created by A. A. Milne. The problem is that we did have to read all 12 each time – there was just no way around that. Luckily they are very short. Ok, I do have to comment on one of the books: “Two Friends”. It describes how two friends like doing things together like cleaning, stacking plates, doing laundry, etc., but in each of the pictures, it’s Piglet doing the work while Pooh is watching. Huh?! Phew…glad I got that off my chest.
3. Cozy Kitten: A Snugglebook by Shaheen Bilgrami & Illustrated by E. Lake (2002, Sterling/Pinwheel, 8 pages)
So kitten went to find something fun to do.
Swimming looked fun,
So kitten jumped into the pond.
What We Love About It: This book is huggable – literally. It is fuzzy and soft and has a cute kitten face and paws on the front cover, and a tail in the back. We spent just as much time manipulating and naming the kitten parts (there are little treasures hidden under the front paws) as we did reading the book. Totally adorable book!
2. A Water Game Board Book: Willy Whale by Gil Davies (Peter Haddock Limited, 16 pages)
He is so cold he shivers.
Willy is so big that every time he shivers,
He makes enormous waves.
What We Love About It: So I asked the kids to check their bookshelves one last time in case we missed one of our favorites. And THIS is what they came up with! What makes this book so great? It’s a book AND a toy. More bang for your buck! I’m just shaking my head – what can I say?
1. Mother Goose Bedtime Rhymes (2003, Publications International, 38 pages)
Mama’s going to buy you a mockingbird.
If that mockingbird won’t sing,
Mama’s gong to buy you a Diamond ring.
What We Love About It: This is the one book that my kids wanted from the time they were little enough to point it out themselves until as recently as last month. The book is filled with every conceivable bed-time lullaby from “Twinkle, Twinkle” to “Rock-a-Bye Baby” to “I See the Moon”. This is a musical book – it plays out Hush Little Baby when you press the button. Every time the kids would turn a page, they would hit the button. So, in effect, every lullaby was sung to that tune! Not an easy thing, trust me.You try singing Heh Diddle Diddle to Hush Little Baby.
Please share some of your favorite children’s books in the comment box below or let me know what you think of our choices. Happy Mother’s Day!