Category Archives: books

What we’ve read so far, 22.5 months

Once we hit 21 months, I started to say “She’ll be two in October” instead of the number of months. Plus, it helps me get used to the idea that I have an almost-two-year-old. Her new favorite activities are hopping, walking backward, spinning till she’s dizzy, singing, climbing the second- or third-most advanced thing on any given playground, and having someone lay a blanket perfectly flat on the floor, her crib, or on one of the outdoor chair cushions and then flinging herself onto it. And reading!

Book spines

Some recent favorites are The Pigeon Needs A Bath and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems, Wow! Said the Owl by Tim Hopgood, Some Bugs and Some Pets by Brendan Wenzel and Angela DiTerlizzi, Blue Chameleon and The Odd Egg by Emily Gravett, Rufus Goes to School and Rufus Goes to Sea by Kim Griswell and Valeri Gorbachev. Also pictured above: Mr. Wuffles (which we like more than she does, so far) and What Do People Do All Day? by Richard Scarry (we have fun with the inflection of the title: What do people DO all day? The toddler just wants to see the red car and the purple car).

Other favorites (not pictured) include Goodnight Everyone by Chris Haughton (of Oh No, George! fame), One Woolly Wombat by Rod Trinca and Kerry Arnett, Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke, A Greyhound, A Groundhog by Emily Jenkins and Chris Appelhans (illustrator of Sparky!), Dot the Fire Dog by Lisa Desimini, The Good for Nothing Button (part of the “Elephant & Piggie Like Reading series but not actually by Mo Willems), If You Give A Pig A Pancake by Laura Numeroff, and many more.

Toddler in pink helmet on scooter

Edited 9/3/17 to add: She’s also been loving these board books (and the Madeline and Olivia board books); I found Mommy Hugs at the Boston MFA gift shop and Mommy Snuggles and Daddy Dreams (not pictured because she is sleeping with it in her crib right now) at Longfellow Books in Portland, Maine. The art is wonderful, and she has learned some new animals (and she thinks it’s hilarious that horses sleep standing up):

Mommy Snuggles and Mommy Hugs

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What we’ve read so far, 20 months

Last weekend, for the first time, Lyra picked up a book, brought it to me, and sat in my lap…and then changed her mind, got up, took the book, sat in her little chair, and read it herself. The book was Hug by Jez Alborough, so there are only three words (hug, Mommy, and Bobo), but she turned the pages herself and said the right words at the right pages. Of course she is not actually reading, but it’s a definite pre-literacy step and very exciting!

Hug by Jez Alborough

She also participates in reading now by saying the parts she knows along with us: my favorite example of this is Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton. We say, “What will George do?” and she says, “Oh no George!” And she knows what’s under each of the flaps in the Spot lift-the-flap books, which was a little surprising the first time.

Oh No George by Chris Haughton

We’ve also started reading to her during mealtimes. Some (most?) people would say reading at the table is poor manners, but I think it is perfectly civilized.

Some of her recent favorites are:Some Bugs

  • Some Bugs, words by Angela DiTerlizzi, bugs by Brendan Wenzel
  • If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond
  • Little Pea by Amy Krause Rosenthal
  • Be A Baby by Sarah Withrow, illustrated by Manuel Monroy
  • Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke
  • Carl’s Birthday by Alexandra Day
  • The Duckling Gets A Cookie?! by Mo Willems
  • A Greyhound, A Groundhog by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Chris Appelhans (the illustrator of Sparky! by Jenny Offill)
  • The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
  • Please, Mr. Panda and I’ll Wait, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony

She’s been into music more lately as well; she especially loves listening to the Beatles’ version of “Twist and Shout” on the record player (vinyl only; iTunes need not apply), though she calls it “ABCs” (??). She will dance around with her two shaker eggs, and her parents are each assigned their respective instruments as well. She has tried to get the dog to dance and play and instrument too, but the dog is, unsurprisingly, not interested.

She has started to sing along to songs she knows; she’s been doing the “EIEIO” part of “Old MacDonald” and the animal sounds for a while, but she’s started to sing “Old Shoes, New Shoes” and “Tap Tap” (songs she brought home from daycare). One of her first sentences was “Yaya purple shoes” – it’s lacking a verb, but you get the point.

In the car she will look through board books or draw on her mini-Magna-Doodle, and she asks for “baby music,” which is what I call the CDs I’ve made her (mostly Caspar Babypants, but some Sesame Street, Raffi, and They Might Be Giants songs). I’m trying to get her to come around to the Beauty & the Beast soundtrack, but so far she still prefers CPB.

The most recent exciting development is not reading related – she has started to jump! Mostly she likes to jump off things, like our stepstool, but two feet definitely left the ground at once at the playground yesterday.

“What does a bunny do?”
“Hop hop!”

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What we’ve read so far, 17.5 months

Our little toddler still loves books, which is gratifying (and a huge relief to her librarian mama). She will look at board books on her own, and we read those and regular picture books together; she’s getting very good at turning the picture book pages carefully, if the adult reader separates one from the next.

Recent favorites are:

  • The Mitten by Jan Brett
  • Chu’s Day, Chu’s Day at the Beach, and Chu’s First Day of School by Neil Gaiman and Adam Rex
  • I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen and Mac Barnett
  • Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
  • Oliver and His Alligator by Paul Schmid
  • Foodie Babies Wear Bibs by Michelle Sinclair Colman and Nathalie Dion
  • The Spot books by Eric Hill (Spot’s First Walk, Where’s Spot?, Spot Goes to the Farm, Spot Goes to School, etc.)

As we were reading I Want My Hat Back for the fourth time this afternoon, the summary on the title page caught my eye: “A bear almost gives up his search for his missing hat until he remembers something important.” (For the real cataloging nerds: The Library of Congress Subject Headings for the book are: 1. Bears — Fiction. 2. Hats — Fiction. 3. Lost and found possessions — Fiction. There is nothing about revenge or eating your enemies…though I am certain there are LCSH for those too.)

Here are some other picture book summaries:

  • “A young elephant sees his dad is in a bad mood and tries to cheer him up, not realizing his own mischief caused the bad mood in the first place.” –How to Cheer Up Dad by Fred Koehler
  • “On the first day of school, a young panda learns about the the special things his animal classmates can do.” –Chu’s First Day of School
  • “A monster tries to chomp any reader who wants to go past the first page of the book in order to keep his cakes safe.” –I Will Chomp You by Jory John and Bob Shea

The kid isn’t interested in the summaries, of course – she’s interested in giant fake sneezes. AHHH….AHHHHH…AHHHHCHOOOOOOO!

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Reading Oliver and His Alligator

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Reading a board book version of the song “Ten in the Bed”

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Feeling the kitten’s soft fur

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The Book of Dust

Compass in hand, pointing north

Earlier this month – the week of my birthday, in fact – I learned that Philip Pullman is writing a new trilogy, The Book of Dust. The first of the three books will be published on October 19 – my Lyra’s birthday. Naturally I am over-the-moon excited about this.

A few friends and fellow librarians asked if I was going to write to the author (or his publicist), and I thought sure, why not, and then I remembered he was on Twitter. And then this happened:

Twitter screenshot of Philip Pullman's announcement of The Book of Dust and our exchange that followed

“Give my pre-emptive birthday greetings to Lyra!” This is definitely going in the scrapbook.

(Also, I cannot believe it didn’t occur to me to look up who else shared her birthday until she was already over a year old.)

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What we’ve read so far, 16 months

This post is long overdue! We have been reading, of course, I just haven’t documented it here (the last post was around 13 months). Now, if we ask if she wants to read a book, she’ll choose one, bring it over, turn around, and plop herself onto one of our laps, ready for storytime. It is the best.

I was very excited for Chris Haughton’s new book, Goodnight Everyone, but while I liked it very much, Lyra wasn’t nearly as interested as she was in his three previous books (Oh No, George!, Little Owl Lost, and Shh! We Have A Plan). It’s only in hardcover now, so perhaps when/if if comes out as a board book, she’ll like it more.

Cover image of Jamberry by Bruce DegenJamberry must be read at top speed; we pause only on one particular page so she can point to the bear’s hat filled with berries.

Lots of kids’ books feature animals:

Dinosaurs! We like I Dreamt I Was A Dinosaur and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?

Wombats! We’ve read my childhood copy of One Woolly Wombat so many times I have it memorized. She likes to point at the kangaroo’s necklace because Grandma has one like that.

Chickies! Our cousins sent us a copy of Bedtime for Chickies by Janee Trasler and Lyra loves it. This is another one she wants to race through, like Jamberry.

Wolves! We found a book that is exactly halfway between I Am the Wolf…And Here I Come! and Herve Tullet’s Press Here: it’s called Help! The Wolf is Coming! I read both wolf books to Lyra’s daycare class and all the kids loved them (there were many encore readings).

Dogs! Not all dogs, just Spot, from Where’s Spot? fame – she likes lifting the flaps. Although we actually have a real live dog in the house, Lyra still hasn’t said “dog”; her first animal word was “owl.”

Owls! We’ve given Wow! Said the Owl a little break, but are enjoying illustrator Tim Hopgood’s version of What A Wonderful World. We tried Olivia Loves Owl, which I think is cute but Lyra doesn’t care for (at least right now. Tastes change quickly…).

Blue Horse I, 1911, Franz Marc

Blue Horse I, Franz Marc

In the past week, she has developed an intense attachment to Eric Carle’s The Artist Who Painted A Blue Horse, and will listen to it over (and over, and over) again. Baby’s first book about degenerate art!

Maurice Sendak is not a classic for nothing: she loves In the Night Kitchen and has started to ask for Where the Wild Things Are, and she still enjoys the Nutshell Library, though most of the appeal is being able to take the tiny book jackets off.

We also still like some Sandra Boynton board books, particularly the Belly Button Book and Tickle Time. Sometimes we’ll reach the end of these and she’ll immediately sign for “more” to read it again.

In addition to books, we’ve been listening to (and dancing to, and playing) lots of music: Sesame Street Platinum All-Time Favorites, some Raffi, They Might Be Giants’ Here Comes Science, and Caspar Babypants (Hot Dog!, Away We Go!, Beatles Baby and Baby Beatles!, I Found You!, etc.). Lyra will sign “please” and “more” and point to the music setup when she wants music, or will nod enthusiastically when I ask her. (It’s one big dramatic, emphatic nod: chin waaaaaay up so all you can see is cheeks…wait…wait…wait…down!) She’s also started saying “Yeah!”

What are your favorite books and music for toddlers?

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Welcome to the Club

If you’re a new(ish) parent and you’re unfamiliar with the blog The Ugly Volvo, start here, where she takes apart Goodnight Moon. Then get yourself a copy of her book Welcome to the Club, which is full of the hilarious, the disgusting, the tender, and the poignant (see below).

Photo of a page of Welcome to the Club

Photo of the illustration accompanying “#59: First Time You Drop Off Your Child At Day Care and Second-Guess Everything About Your Life.” 

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What we’ve read so far, thirteen months

Spines of picture books and board books topped with ladybug music toy

As has become tradition around these parts, this is a post I started writing nearly a month ago; now we are closer to fourteen months! However, the Little Mother Goose by Tomie dePaola is still a big favorite, and she likes the “Baby Touch and Feel” books too.

The Cheerios Play Book (get it?) lives on the kitchen floor, and I scatter cheerios on its pages for Lyra to arrange, rearrange, and eat as I bake or cook. That one was a gift from Nana, as was Whose Mommy Is This?, which has a unique structure: the pages slide apart and extend. She has just figured out how to pull them back and push them in by herself.

Cover image of First 100 WordsFirst Hundred Words was a gift from a high school friend of Ben’s, and she loves it. For about a month solid, we kept it in the car, and she would spend every car ride turning pages and examining the pictures.

Not pictured, but we’ve also been reading another version of Mother Goose, and Jamberry has been in heavy rotation as well. She also adores the Nutshell Library (a little box of miniature copies of four Maurice Sendak books: One Was Johnny, Alligators All Around, Chicken Soup With Rice, and Pierre).

Mama and Dad are going to take a smidgen of credit for her love of books, but the librarians deserve more than a hat tip: they are always so happy to see her come in, and the library is such a welcoming place. It even has little rocking chairs for little readers:

Toddler in small rocking chair in children's library

So thank you to Pam, Lauren, Kathy, Stephanie, and Emily. We’ll see you again soon!

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