Great (Baby) Reads

My friend Kelly, aka The Accidental Pharmacist, is asking for people to recommend their top 5 baby and toddler books. I decided to jump in. While I have no particular background in children’s literature, I’ve read a lot of it in the past 5 1/2 years. Sometimes over and over and over again. I can recite many of my kids’ books by heart – Goodnight Moon, But Not the Hippopotamus, Where is Baby’s Belly Button, Tikki Tikki Tembo. I’ve formulated my own ideas about what makes a good kids story.

Such a good story!
Baby Hannah checking out a soft book

I think that for babies and young toddlers, the best stories are short and sweet. The books are sturdy with bright, colourful pictures. And as a bonus, I like a little something for myself. If I’m going to read the same story 257 times in a single day, I had better at least enjoy it. And so, in no particular order, here are some of my favourite books for my own wee ones:

Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara Joosee and Barbara Lavallee: This book is about a little girl asking her mother how much she loves her. She poses a lot of different scenarios: What if I poured water on our lamp? What if I turned into a polar bear? Sometimes, her mother tells her that she would be angry or surprised or scared. But always she says that she would love her. It reinforces that even though parents may get mad at their kids sometimes, nothing can change their love for them. The book is set in the far north, and contains pictures and words that reflect traditional Inuit life. My 5-year-old Hannah has loved this book for a long time, and she frequently asks me to say the closing line for her: I will love you forever and for always, because you are my dear one.

Eco Babies Wear Green by Michelle Sinclair Colman and Nathalie Dion: This book is part of a series – in fact, we read Urban Babies Wear Black first. I enjoy Urban Babies, but not as much as Eco Babies. Probably because in my own life I aspire to be a not-so-urban eco mama. The book is short and simple, explaining that eco babies compost, recycle and so on. The illustrations show that the babies aren’t really composting, though – they’re throwing cereal on the floor, for example. My 5-year-old thinks this is hilarious. This series is light-hearted and fun, and makes us laugh at ourselves a little, which is a good thing.

Big Dog and Little Dog Making a Mistake by Dav Pilkey: Dav Pilkey is the author of the popular and funny Captain Underpants series, for school-aged kids. My daughter Hannah is just now getting into those. But we were first introduced to this hilarious children’s author via Big Dog and Little Dog. We have 4 of these books, and they continue to make me laugh. In this book, Big Dog and Little Dog chase a skunk, thinking it’s a cat. Predictably, they are sprayed. The text reads: “Big Dog smells bad. Little Dog smells bad, too.” For some reason this cracks me up Every. Time. Which is good, because I read it a lot.

The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton: Sandra Boynton is a perennial hit, and with good reason. Her stories and illustrations are simple and easy to follow, she employs rhythm and rhyming, and she’s funny. We enjoy a lot of her stories, but this is our current favourite. I’ve made up actions to go along with the words, and my almost-2-year-old Jacob loves to play along. He laughs out loud when he gets the action in before I do, he really throws his whole self into it. Plus, I enjoy any children’s book that encourages sleep. I’m just saying.

Baby Beluga by Raffi and Ashley Wolff: I was a child of the 1980s, and Raffi and his music loomed large in my home. I remember listening to Baby Beluga on vinyl, and I sang along at top volume. So when Hannah was a baby, I bought the board book, and it has been the longstanding favourite of both of my children. Our copy is battered and taped, and still I sing the story more than any other. My own daughter now sings along with me at top volume, it’s very full-circle and I love it.

So, tell me. What are your favourite baby and toddler books? And what do you think makes for a good story for the under-3 crowd?

PS – Go visit Kelly’s blog because there is a giveaway of some kids books going on.

Disclosure: The books are affiliate links to If you were to click on one and buy it, I might get $0.27. Eventually.

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  1. I was selling Usb0rne this past few years, so some of my book picks are biased. I really like the Talkabout Series – this series is beautifully illustrated by Stephen Cartwright and generally each double page spread has a sentence or two like ” how many chicks do you see?” but then it’s all wide open for interpretation. We read these for a long time and I like that we can just noodle about for 5 or 20 minutes on one page. Funny that this series is priced really cheaply – unlike some of their books it doesn’t have touchy feely bits or a sound chip. It’s a simple, 10 page board books with little side tabs and lots of pictures. There are three in the series: seaside, farm, and zoo. Seaside and farm are the best. We also just received “For Just One Day” by Laura Leuck and we love it. I love the illustrations. The Going to Bed Book is our favorite Boynton book too – it’s the only one that I find the sing-song actually works the whole way through. I don’t know if it’s just me but I find the other ones all have at least one part where the rhythm is off.
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  2. I love reading to my daughter who is now 3. Her favorite books were “Thats not my Teddy” by Fiona Watt (She has a whole line of touch and feel books with simple text for baby age) and she loved a lot of the Eric Carle books (The very hungry catepillar, Brown Bear Brown Bear what do you see, etc). Now her favorites are all over the place…Lorax by Dr Suess, Room on the broom by Julia Donaldson..) I would encourage people to look into USED bookstores. These have afforded us to have 2 bookcases dedicated to our young reader. On a limited budget due to me staying at home, the used book stores allow us to encourage her reading and not go broke!

  3. Our house is bursting at the seams with kids books (partially thanks to Value Village and the Chapters Bargain Books section!) All children’s books are definitely not created equal (we’ve come across some real stinkers) but we’ve also discovered some real gems, like “When Vegetables Go Bad” by Don Gillmor (it cracks me up every time), “Superdog : The Heart of a Hero” (Dad’s favorite) and Margaret Atwood’s “Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes” & “Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda.” I’ve found anything by Priddy Books or Karen Katz to be great as well.

  4. I don’t actually know those books, but after 13 years of reading baby books, I’m glad to be moving on to older kids reads:)
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  5. I happen to love Eric Carle’s “Have you Seen My Cat?” It’s simple but great! I also love love love Richard Scarry books. My son loves “Cars and Trucks and Things That Go.”
    Old School/New School Mom’s last post … Internet Mom DatingMy Profile

  6. I love kids’ books! A few board book favourites of mine are “Haiku Baby” by Betsy Snyder (sweet haikus about the natural world accompanied by bright illustrations), “Everywhere Babies” by Susan Meyers (everyday scenes of babies eating, sleeping and being loved), and “I Know a Rhino” by Charles Fuge (a little girl plays with a variety of animals who turn out to be her stuffed animals). I could go on!
    Holly’s last post … Ringle and Kerr have a new book coming this fallMy Profile

  7. lol! I like your disclosure 😉 I do hope you get that .27 sooner rather than later! My favorite toddler books are my magazines. I think they are interesting, and I don’t get too upset when they get completely torn apart. OK, j/k! I really like books with shapes, colors, and numbers for young toddlers and The Napping House.

  8. My favorite books for the kids:

    Goodnight Moon – at one point I had it memorized.
    Pajama Time – Sandra Boyton
    Just go to Bed – Mercer Mayer
    Just going to the Dentist – Mercer Mayer (this book did an amazing job of preparing Madelyn for her first dentist visit)
    We also like the Jillian Jiggs series.

    Our favorite books usually rhyme and/or have a life lesson for the kids. I bought a whole series on Why I need my Sleep, Why I need to eat, Why I need to brush my teeth – to explain to the girls why I ask so much of them. One I still want to get that comes highly recommended is called “What’s Heaven?” by Maria Shriver.
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  9. So cute!
    BABY BEN’S BOW WOW BOOK by Harriet Ziefert was a favourite with my boys…. they LOVE the animal noises and the illustrations are lovely and simple.


    The Runaway Bunny [Board book] by Margaret Wise Brown was a sweet book for mommy cuddles
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  10. We like some of those too, but some are new to me, thanks! My favorite is The Big Red Barn (Margaret Wise Brown) because it is so gentle and relaxing. Mostly I love the illustrations, especially as it becomes evening.
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  11. We adore the going to bed book… I can just about recite it from memory after 6 years of reading it! It’s also one of the books my big girls, who are beginning readers, can read to their brother.. partly from memory, and partly because of the simple language and lovely intuitive rhymes. Great book!

  12. We’ve got the Going to Bed Book as well as Baby Beluga too. My favourite young kid books are actually the ones with tiny little bugs or something similar hidden in the picture. (For example in Good Night Moon we always look for the mouse). Right now, Em, is loving the Gossie and Gertie series of books by Olivier Dunrau. The pictures seem basic but they almost always have a bug in the corner. Em loves pointing them out to me. Her joy is contagious.
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  13. Baby Beluga is very popular in our house. It is the song that calmed both my children whenever they were screaming their heads off. Last month, when Jack had to have allergy testing, the song still worked!

    I am going to check out those Dav Pilkey books. Thanks
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  14. We are Seuss fan’s. ‘A little bug went Ka-choo’ is a huge hit at my house. Great repetition and rhyming. I love the lyrical quality of his books. Baby Beluga sits on our shelf as well 🙂
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  15. Just getting caught up here . . .

    I love, love, love the Boynton books. Especially Snuggle Puppy!
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  16. Dad To The Bone says:

    Thanks for some new book suggestions. I’m always looking for new books to introduce my kids, even though they have their favorites and I have the pleasure of reading them over, and over, and over again. 🙂

  17. Sandra Boynton’s books are cute: Belly Button Book, Let’s Dance Little Pookie, and The Barnyard Dance!
    I Am A Bunny by Richard Scarry 🙂 My personal favorite
    Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What do you see? (Polar Bear, and Brown Bear) by Bill Martin Jr. (We recently developed a love for these three books…
    Daddy Hugs by Karen Katz (was a MUST read 20 times a day for the first year)

    I have other books that I blogged about that also might be of interest:
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  18. I agree with Holly that Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers is fantastic. It’s especially good for getting toddlers/preschoolers excited and interested if you happen to have another baby on the way.

    I also like Where is Baby’s Bellybutton by Karen Katz, which is a fun lift-the-flap book.

    Another fun one for very young children is Amazing Baby Boo by Beth Harwood. It has lots of pictures of baby faces and ends with a mirrored bage where baby can see his or her own face. My son absolutely loved that book
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