Thursday, January 12, 2012

Kid's Picks

I've mentioned before what an avid reader I am. My husband is much the same way. There isn't a room in our house that doesn't have a few books tucked away somewhere (whether they are supposed to be there or not). One of our biggest fears when deciding to start a family was that our daughter might not take to reading. So far, that fear seems to be wildly unfounded. She loves books, and they are as much her toys as the ponies and stuffed things and building blocks.

Once she started sleeping through the night, in her own room, I began the nightly ritual of reading to her before bed. While she was still super little, it was just to get her used to that as part of the nighttime routine, and for her to get used to me reading to her. So I would read children's books without pictures, classic books maybe a little above her age range, and she would usually drift off (or bounce around in her crib) while I did so. We have finally hit the point where she has started wanting to actively be part of this routine. She now wants to pick from her (large) selection of picture books at bedtime, bringing me several stories to read to her as she sits next to me and engages in the story.

So I thought for today's post I'd share with you her top five favorite bedtime books.

This book is just cool. It features a small mouse trying to find his dragon. He looks at a different dragon on each page, pointing out why it can't be his dragon. One's ears are too tufty, another's tongue is too fuzzy, and so on. The really nifty thing about this book is that for each dragon, you can actually feel the thing the mouse is pointing out. There's a little bit of fluff for the tufty ears and what feels like a piece of velcro for the fuzzy tongue. It's wholly wonderful. Of course, at the end the mouse finds his dragon, so there's even a happy ending. In addition to touching the different textures, we also like to have her find the mouse for us on each page to make it a little more interactive. Baby Girl has actually memorized this one. The other night, she "read" it to me. That was awesome. I also learned, thanks to some friends, that the publisher actually has made several of these books, with different animals and such (and in many cases different textures to explore as well). We just got That's Not My Dinosaur and I can't wait to see how she responds to it!

This one is pretty cute too. It features several different African animals and starts out with a silly question about that animal, with an illustration showing them acting it out. The illustration is on a flap, behind which we get another of the animal doing something it actually does. For example, the page with the title question shows the zebra flapping it's arms for all it's worth, trying to take off. The flap reveals, however, that while a zebra can't actually fly, it can use its stripes to help hide. I like that this book has an educational element about the animals depicted. For extra fun, we like to count the animals on each page.

This one is pretty straightforward. On each pair of pages it features an item with the word written next to it. The fun bit is that there is a flap on each set of pages behind which the two items are combined. So for example the page with frog and ball then show a frog sitting on a ball. Some of them are really silly, like the green beans in the sock or the egg wearing a scarf, but it is lots of fun. Baby Girl has most of the words down pretty well, and she has even started being able to put the combinations together (she really has "mouse rides in the wagon" down). She very much enjoys opening up the flap I think.

My husband and I are also both huge fans of Sandra Boynton, so of course we have a multitude of her books in Baby Girl's library. This one is by far her favorite though, I think. Basically it is just hippos singing the praises of their belly buttons (and balloons), which kids of course find endlessly amusing.

Another Boynton classic. This one has lots of fun illustrations and easily lends itself to serve as a lesson in counting. Plus, it is a fascinating treatise on the party habits of hippos (and one non-hippo guest).

Of course, she has many, many more books, but these are the five that see the heaviest rotation, both at bedtime and when she feels like "reading" to herself. I think our worries that she might not enjoy reading were all for naught. She does truly seem to take pleasure in looking at and touching and arranging books. She can spend hours going through our books as well as her own (our poor bookshelves will never be properly arranged again, I fear). I'm sure it doesn't hurt that she often sees me and my husband curled up reading. She understands that it is something we enjoy doing and therefore must be fun.

It also leads to super cute moments like these:

Reading time!
This was our family reunion in 2010. My husband was taking a break and catching up on his reading and Baby Girl wanted to join him. She very much wants to be like her daddy. As evidenced in this one:

Checking out Daddy's book.

This was earlier last year. She stumbled across her father's book and climbed up on the couch with it. No one else was around, I just happened to wander in and find her like this. It was an awesome moment in parenting.

How about you? What books do your young readers enjoy the most?

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