In a world of smart phones and flat screens, it often seems impossible that a child will really learn to love books more than the latest Apple product. As frequent users of screens ourselves (and with two blogs to maintain between us), Elliott and I feel the pull between paper and iPad very keenly.
Here at home we combat it by reading books to Lena and reading our own books in front of her, and then when she is awake our phones are generally out of sight and our laptops are closed. Therefore, in Lena’s almost-two years of life, we have read a lot of books to her. We read several stories to her before both her naps and another several stories before bedtime; we keep books mixed in with all her toys; her great-grandmother gave her some bath books; and we keep books in our bag for her to read on the go (car seat, stroller, during church, etc.). Books books books… !
Today I polled Elliott and we came up with a list of our 10 favorite board books. These are the ones that Lena asked for over and over again, and these are also the books that we didn’t mind reading over and over ourselves. There are a few classics and a few obscure ones. Here’s our list:
Peek-A Who?— A gift from my friend Heather, this is a great first book for a baby. It’s small enough for little hands and only has about 10 pages. There’s a cute, rhyming story and lots of bright colors and animals. See Lena enjoying it at the end of this post.
Where’s Spot?— Lena has loved any lift-the-flap book since she was about 12 months old and could manipulate the flaps with her little fingers. Spot is a special favorite, but I also recommend Karen Katz’s booksand Dear Zoo.
Goodnight Moon— The lulling rhythm of this children’s classic puts Lena and her parents to sleep!
Rocky Mountain Babies!— Lena’s Aunt Eden bought this for her in Rocky Mountain National Park when we were vacationing there with Elliott’s family in July 2011 (right before I started this blog!). We’ve read this book to her hundreds of times by now and love the photos of baby animals from the American West.
The Big Red Barn— An unlikely classic, I thought, when I first read the book and looked at the pictures. It isn’t as instantly aesthetically appealing as many children’s books. Yet over time this book has become our family’s very favorite. Perhaps it’s because there is so much to see and discuss on each page. Perhaps it’s because of all the animal sounds we can make together. Perhaps it’s because the musical rhythm helps us all nod off by the end of the book. We love it.
Note: We received it as a boxed setwith Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny, and I highly recommend this set as a gift.
Freight Train— Lena got this Caldecott Medal-winning board book as a party favor because the hostess knew we didn’t want Lena to have candy. Umm… best party favor ever, I think?! This conceptual classic, with its bright colors and simple story, quickly became Lena’s new favorite book.
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?— We love anything by Eric Carlein this house, but Lena seems to prefer this one most of all. We love roaring like a lion and yelping like a peacock as we read the rollicking story aloud.
Hop on Pop— I find myself quoting this silly book all the time and somehow never tire of reading it. “Three fish in a tree? How can that be?” I also recommend another short board book by Dr. Seuss called Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?, and in fact Lena has loved any book we own in the Bright and Early Board Books series.
A Swim Through the Sea— This beautiful book was given to us by our friends in California, who first fell in love with it when they discovered it at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Written and gorgeously illustrated by a 16-year-old, it’s a little-known classic and an unusually beautiful ABC book.
Blue Hat, Green Hat — Lena literally laughs out loud when we read this book to her. Somehow Sandra Boynton nabs toddler humor with her upbeat rhymes and hilarious animal illustrations. You can’t go wrong with anything by Boynton, but this one is by far our favorite.
And now it’s your turn! Did you see any of your favorites on this list? And which books do remember most fondly from your childhood? We’re always looking for good suggestions for our home library!