My triplet toddlers love books. They can’t read yet (they’re only two and a half), but they flip through books constantly, fight over them and want to take them everywhere they go.
How did they get this way? My wife and I have been reading to our boys since they were born, and we’ve been careful to choose stories that both the kids and we enjoy. Here are some of our favorites:
“Baby Loves,” written by Michael Lawrence, illustrated by Adrian Reynolds (DK Publishing, Inc.). This medium-sized storybook is beautifully illustrated and has a simple and straightforward storyline. Each page ends with a cliffhanger (“except…”), and the story ends with an unexpected but pleasant twist. It’s fun for even the youngest listeners.
“Little Kippers: Splosh!” by Mick Inkpen (Red Wagon Books, Harcourt Brace & Company). Also appropriate for babies, this thin paperback is about a small dog, Kipper, and his encounters during a rainstorm. The story is full of onomatopoeia sound-words like “splash,” “boom!” and “drip” and can be made more interesting if you dramatize them a bit.
“The Blue’s Clues Nursery Rhyme Treasury” (Simon Spotlight/Nick Jr.). I’m rather old fashioned and don’t like the way traditional nursery rhymes were changed in this book (like substituting Blue Horner for Jack Horner, for example), but that’s only for the names of characters. So when I read them I change the names back.
But I like this book because the nursery rhymes they’ve chosen are most of my favorites. The illustrations are bright and eye-catching and you can sing most of the selections, if you want.
“Babar Loses His Crown,” by Laurent De Brunhoff (Beginner Books, Random House, Inc.). I started reading this to the boys when they turned one and it is by far their favorite. A rather long story, it is about the elephant king Babar and a trip he takes to Paris with his family.
On the way, they somehow misplace a red bag with his crown in it, and spend most of the book running all over Paris looking for it. To keep my kids interested in the story, I give each character a different voice and over-dramatize the cliff-hanger moments (when they almost get his red bag back). It is a truly delightful read.
The Mini Masters Series by Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober (Chronicle Books). I recommend this entire series of books because I have yet to read one I didn’t like. Published in a board book format, each title is about a famous painter and features full-color samples of their work.
But it’s the writing, not the visuals, that keeps kids listening. Each famous painting is accompanied by a lovely little poem. They’re simple, they rhyme and they match the paintings nicely. The titles I have are “A Picnic with Monet,” “Dancing with Degas,” “In the Garden with Van Gogh,” and “Painting with Picasso.”
My kids enjoy these books so much they ask for them by the painter’s name. I was stunned the first time I realized my toddler was saying, “I want Van Gogh, please.” Read these books to your kids and they’ll start sounding precocious, even if they aren’t.