Want more book recommendations from local parents? Check out these additional Parents Guide book selections:
Kristin, mother of Matthew, 18 months:
"The Very Busy Spider" by Eric Carle. Each of the farm animals invite the spider to play but it is very busy spinning its web. Matthew loves looking at the animals and making each of their sounds. This is how he learned what the owl says!
"Hobby Farms" – This magazine is a favorite of Matthew's. Although purchased for his parents' enjoyment, it combines his love of things that go (many tractors with loaders, mowers etc.) with his love of animals. He has learned about alpacas and emus as well as the more traditional cows and chickens.
"Wake Up Engines" by Denise Dowling Mortensen. Rhyming verses describe the sights and sounds of morning traffic as cars, trucks and airplanes rev up their engines and go. Matthew loves pointing to the school bus and each of the cars as I name, white van, pink convertible, semi truck etc. He can "read" like this for a long time!
Kristy, mother of Lyra, age 3:
Right now, my daughter loves any of the "Berenstain Bears" books by Stan and Jan Berenstain. Each of the books tackles a different issue that children might be facing like jealousy, starting school, or bullies, and shows how one bear family handles it. For whatever reason, she is fascinated by the antics of Too-tall Grizzly and his gang.
We also love "Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late," by Mo Willems. This is one of several books by Willems with a wily pigeon protagonist who tries to talk young readers into letting him do crazy things.
Another favorite is "Little Red Cowboy Hat" by Susan Lowell. This western version of Little Red Riding Hood is a really fun read and features a strong grandmother character that saves the day.
Amy, mother of Ella, age 4 and Noah, age 2
"We're Going on a Bear Hunt" by Michael Rosen. This story follows a family as they travel through river, mud, forest and snowstorm in search of a bear-and rapidly retrace their steps when they find one. My kids love the sound effects like "squelch, squerch" and "Stumble trip!" which add a lot of humor and silly voices for the reader to incorporate as they read.
"You're All My Favorites" by Sam McBratney. I love this book because it shows children that all children are different and that's what makes them so special to their parents. It helps answer the very difficult question all parents get asked "Who's your favorite?" Now parents have the answer. As a parent this book gives you the opportunity to tell your kids what makes them special to you.
"Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots?" by Carmela LaVigna Coyle. Every little girl wonders if she is like a princess and I think this book answers that question. This is a sweet story about how we are all like a princess. The mother's voice in the story is reassuring as she answers her daughter's questions and advises her that being a princess has to do with what we are on the inside.
Kristen, mother of Matthew, 22 months:
Cowboy Small by Lois Lenski. Cowboy Small takes good care of his horse Cactus while working on the range. The cowboy life is for Matthew. He likes Cactus, is intrigued by the cook camp and loves the round-up. It's a fun read, even 18 times a day!
I Love Trains by Philemon Sturges. A boy expresses his love of trains describing the special cars and their jobs. Matthew loves this book, not only for the trains, but he takes great pleasure in pointing to each of the animals in the countryside.
Mouse Mess by Linnea Riley. A hungry mouse leaves a huge mess when he goes in search of a snack. The "Hush hush" first line of this story captures Matthew's attention every time. He delights in pretending to eat the food off of the page as mouse snacks his way through the story.
Kristy, mother of Lyra, age 3:
My daughter is currently infatuated with all things pirate. The Pirate's Alphabet by Patti Wigington has helped expand her pirate vocabulary with such gems as "Davey Jones' locker" and "poop deck."
The Night Pirates by Peter Harris tells a creative tale about a gang of small girl pirates, reinforcing the fact that yes, anyone can be a pirate.
After having years of fun with the alphabet in Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, we decided to check out numbers in Chicka Chicka 1,2,3 by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, and were not disappointed. The two stories are similar, but different enough to be exciting. And, we have had lots of fun counting to 100 together.
Amy, mother of Ella, age 4 and Noah, age 2
Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen. With enough lunch for three, Mr. Magee and his dog Dee head out to the sea. But what starts out as a fun day in the sun turns a bit bumpy when one playful whale decides to say hello. Soon the crew that once was floating finds themselves flying! How will they get down? Who will come to their rescue? And when will they ever get to eat lunch? Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee is a great read-aloud, sure to provide fits of giggles.
Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann. Pink, pink, pink. More than anything, Pinkalicious loves pink, especially pink cupcakes. Her parents warn her not to eat too many of them, but when Pinkalicious does . . . she turns pink! What to do? If you have someone who loves pink this is a silly story about too much pink!
Corduroy by Don Freeman. What a classic and it holds up to the test of time. A stuffed bear, Corduroy, sat in a store until one day when a girl, Lisa, takes him and his wish comes true - he gets a home of his own. A wonderful tale that tells kids how important home and friends are.
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. When Chester the raccoon is reluctant to go to kindergarten for the first time, his mother teaches him a secret way to carry her love with him. Gearing up to start school this book was a great way to introduce my little ones to what it is like and that it is okay to be away from mom.
Kristy, mother of Lyra, age 4
Laura Numeroff has a series of books that includes "If you Give a Moose a Muffin." We have been reading this every morning for months! It is a silly story about the crazy chain of events that could be kicked off by giving a moose a muffin (or, in other books: a mouse a cookie, a pig a pancake or a party.) The illustrations are really cute.
In "Ootah's Lucky Day," by Peggy Parish and Mamoru Funai, we follow a young Eskimo boy as he sets off on a quest to find food for his people and prove himself as a hunter. The story sparks interesting conversations about living in an igloo and harpooning walruses for food.
For a change, Lyra's dad brought home a chapter book to read before bed. "Ivy and Bean," by Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall, is the first in a series about two seven-year-old girls who are quite different but become good friends just the same. It's been fun to read one chapter a night and get excited about what's going to happen next.
Kristen, mother of Matthew, 27 months
"Richard Scarry's cars and trucks and things that go" by Richard Scarry. On their way to the beach for a picnic, the Pig family encounters almost every kind of transportation vehicle imaginable – and imaginary. While slight on story, this book is long on entertainment. Matthew loves to pour over each page and pick out which vehicle he likes best.
"Bear wants more" by Karma Wilson. When spring comes, Bear wakes up very hungry and is treated to great food by his friends. Matthew enjoys the animals, the rhyming and is starting to understand the joke in the story.
"Shaggy, waggy dogs and others" by Stephanie Calmenson. Brief rhymes and great photos describe more than two dozen dog breeds. As a dog lover, Matthew is intrigued by the photographs in this book. He wants to know what each dog "says" and lingers over his favorites.
Eva, mother of Everett, age 4
We've been reading a lot of poems lately. They're short and have a nice sing-song sound to them so we can read them over and over. We read a lot from the collection, "Here's A Little Poem" collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters with lovely illustrations by one of our favorites, Polly Dunbar. There are enough poems in the book that we can read it every night and not read the same ones. My son's favorite (and mine too) is Sugarcake Bubble – "Sugarcake, sugarcake bubbling in a pot…" – fun to read and the illustration is enough to make us all hungry for more dessert! Another of my son's favorites is August Ice Cream Cone – "Lick quick." – that's the whole poem and Everett thinks it's grand that it's all summed up by two words; he says, "Mommy, the title is longer than the poem!"
Kristen, mother of Matthew, 32 months:
Who made this cake? by Chihiro Nakagawa. In this story, a team of miniature workers uses construction vehicles to bake a cake. Matthew is fascinated by the dump trucks full of flour going up the ramp to the bowl and the cranes lifting each egg to crack. The text is minimal but the story is engrossing.
Trucks Whizz! Zoom! Rumble! By Patricia Hubbell. "Old trucks, new trucks, going to the zoo trucks" – this rhyming exploration of all kinds of trucks captured Matthew from the first page. He loves to look at the illustrations (as do I – the artwork is filled with subtle humor including a lightning bug driving an electrician's vehicle). This author/illustrator combo also has books on Trains and Airplanes, which we have enjoyed.
Sally goes to the beach by Stephen Huneck. Sally is a black lab and her suitcase, packed for vacation, contains a ball and a chew bone. Sally and her owner go to the beach where there are dogs galore. Matthew loves looking at all of the dogs and seems to get some of the humor (Sally imagining the ferry boat captain looking like a dog) even though it seems over his head. This is one in a series and he loves to look for "Sally books" at the library.
Eva, mother of Everett, age 4 ½
Baby Danced the Polka by Karen Beaumont with pictures by Jennifer Plecas. The summary says, "It's nap time at the farm, but one un-sleepy baby has a different plan... Baby wants to dance." I think this appeals to my son because it's all in rhyme and rhythm and because my guy, who refuses to go to sleep at night and makes us crazy, can relate to the main character!
On a totally different note, even though he is only 4, I am reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to him. He seems to get parts of it and loves the idea of the magic wardrobe, we love snuggling together for a longer book. I am finding it's an introduction to the concepts of good and evil, which are tough concepts! I do end up editing as I read a little but that's okay.
Right now we're also reading (and re-reading) Marie Sellier, Catherine Louis and Wang Fei's WHAT THE RAT TOLD ME: A LEGEND OF THE CHINESE ZODIAC. I think my son enjoys the different personalities of the different animals and then the prints (I don't know if they're woodcut or silkscreen) are gorgeous! These are paired with calligraphic symbols for each of the animals. It is a very beautiful book that tells the story of the great emperor of Heaven who invites all the animals to visit him on the Jade Mountain. Twelve come and become the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac. The story is adapted from a Chinese Buddhist legend dating from the Han Dynasty.