Every morning, our 1 year old gets into bed with us and together we read five books that we’ve borrowed from the library. He likes new books, but there’s a few that are clear standouts. ‘More!’ he shouts over and over and I find myself reading the book from cover to cover ten times… and all of this before 7am.
I’ve listed below his top ten favourite books and what he loves about them. Before I know it this list will change completely, so I better write it down before we forget.
1. Junkyard Dig!: Building from A to Z by Annie Auerbach
These trucks who live in Trucktown decide to build a fort from various things they find at the dump. My son loves the rocket (we countdown 3-2-1 then blast off) and the umbrella (that pops open then floats down into his lap) and the yak (because it looks like he has a banana on his head). He also squeals with delight when he sees the teddy bear on the front grill of Gabriella the Garbage Truck.
This was the first book where he really started to point things out and interact. Because of that, it’ll always be a favourite of mine.
2. Trucks by Anne Rockwell
You know what they say about a boy and his trucks? Well, I’m all for exposing kids to a range of topics, and try to stay away from those gender-specific toys and games. But here I am, with a 1 year old who love trucks. This book goes through all different types of trucks and all the characters are cartoon cats dressed as humans (weird). My son gets excited about the snowman with a carrot for a nose (while the snow plow passes), flips out about the broken power lines (thank goodness for that utility truck coming to fix the lines) and has just started to weeee-waaaaw at the ‘firetrucks, red and clanging, racing to put out a fire’.
It’s a sweet little book and never boring to read. Friday mornings are particularly special when we’re in bed and the actual garbage truck comes down our street. My son flings himself off the bed and scurries to the window, eyes wide with interest as he points at the flashing orange lights.
3. Clean It by Georgie Birkett
My son has turned out to be a clean, neat boy who likes things in their place (disclaimer: he didn’t get that from me!). Therefore, Clean It is his dream come true. He found this one himself at the library and pointed out the vacuum cleaner on the front with an excited squeal.
It goes through all the things in the house that you can clean, and the illustrations are fabulous. There’s lots of interesting things to point out – socks, teddy-bears, a tooth-brush, the dog drinking from the mop bucket – and my son loves pretending to tickle the child in the story with the feather duster.
4. What makes a rainbow? by Betty Schwartz
I personally love the design of this book (it’s one of those ingenious ideas that you just wish you’d come up with yourself, it’s so clever). Every turn of a page reveals a different coloured ribbon, eventually making a rainbow. And the very last page is a pop-up of the sun and rainbow in the sky.
My son can’t get enough of the pop-up page at the end, and he races through each page, crying for me to turn the page and move on so he can get to the last. Finally I say ‘ta-da’ and open the last page… and it makes his day.
5. Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton
Sandra Boynton’s books are ridiculous. They make no sense. And this is what makes them so hilarious. Barnyard Dance is about a bunch of animals dancing with each other in a barn. The text in the book is all in rhyme and I can’t help but sing it in my (worst) southern American accent while tapping my foot. My husband slaps his thigh and sings along, and eventually the song gets stuck in our heads for the rest of the day.
My son enjoys the fast paced singing and the involvement from the whole family, and watches me turn the pages with a smile on his face.
6. Peekaboo, who are you? by Georgie Birkett
Yes, another Georgie Birkett (see Clean It above). We just can’t get enough of her bright, colourful illustrations. The Peekaboo books are such a delight to read: simple language, simple rhymes, with lots of lady birds and flowers and t-shirts and socks to point out on each page.
But what makes these books so good for 1 year olds are the felt flaps on each page. Yes, felt. Every little child loves seeing what’s hiding behind the flaps… but the paper versions inevitably get torn by enthusiastic little fingers (sticky-tape, anyone?). The felt can be gripped in little fists and crumpled up, revealing that ladybird hiding behind it, and my son can enjoy the book over and over without me having to write an apology note to the local library.
7. Our cat Flossie by Ruth Brown
We are dog people. We have a dog, our family has dogs, our friends have dogs. We point out dogs in the street. And of course, my son falls in love with a book about a cat called Flossie.
The illustrations are life-like and the story is about a cat, living in London, doing actual cat things. Unlike Trucks (see above) this cat in this book doesn’t spend her days loading pumpkins into her pick-up truck; she sleeps, climbs, hides and chases butterflies. My son giggles when she hides under the sheets in the bed and he calls out ‘uh-oh’ when she breaks a Christmas ornament.
8. Dear zoo by Rod Campbell
A dear friend from work gave us this book, as it was a favourite of her daughter’s when she was growing up in the 1980s. And my son loves it too. It’s about someone asking the zoo for a pet, and them sending a variety of animals, all hiding behind their own lift-the-flaps, and each with their own follies (grumpy, scary, jumpy, naughty). We make all the animal noises, point out the giraffe’s tongue (we all have to stick our own tongues out), and get excited when we see the monkey eating a banana.
When finally the zoo sends a dog, my son shouts ‘Bobba!’, which is his way of saying Boston, who is our beloved black labrador. No, we won’t be sending Bobba back to the zoo.
9. Spot’s fun week by Eric Hill
Spot books are the lift-the-flap stories from my own childhood and I love sharing this one with my son. It contains two stories – Spot bakes a cake and Spot goes to a party – that are basic and easy to follow. The illustrations are delightful, and many a roll of sticky tape has been used to repair the flaps.
The story starts with a shopping trip for ingredients for Spot’s dad’s birthday cake. Spot’s little mouse friend suggests they need some cheese (my son shouts ‘ga-ga’, his word for cheese) and my son chuckles when Spot spills chocolate all over the kitchen. The second story is about Helen’s fancy dress party; my son is super impressed at Spot’s costume (the cowboy suit) and at the final appearance of Tom, the crocodile (followed by a ‘snap-snap’ of my son’s little hand). Spot reminds me of my childhood and it warms me to know he’ll be a part of my son’s too.
10. The very hungry caterpillar by Eric Carle
My son loves turning the pages of this one and revealing more and more food with holes that the caterpillar has eaten. He puts his little fingers through the holes and wants me to do the same (I try, but not even my pinky goes through).
His favourite page is the one where the caterpillar eats a truck-load of food on the Saturday – cake, pickle, cheese, salami, lolly-pop… you name it. He gets excited, of course, over the cheese (‘ga-ga!’) and the watermelon (something he can recognise) and he squeals with delight on the last page when the beautiful butterfly is revealed.
So that’s my son’s top-ten books. What were yours?