A year ago today I posted this blog post about the books my one-year-old loved. I thought it’s good timing to take you through the books he now loves today.
1. Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey and Tom Lichtenheld
This is by far the favourite. The construction site machinery have done their work for the day and all go to bed one by one. They all have different bedtime routines (the cement mixer ‘takes a bath, gets shiny bright’, the bulldozer ‘curls into his soft dirt bed, and dreams of busy days ahead’). For the child who can’t get enough of diggers and dump trucks, this is the book for them.
And it’s great for parents too. My son adored stories about big machines, but I found so many books just weren’t appropriate for the bedtime read. They were all about crashes and bangs and moving big, heavy things as loudly as possible – not the kind of story you want to be telling your 2-year-old with the hope of getting them to sleep. But this book is the perfect mix.
2. Schnitzel von Krumm: Forget-Me-Not by Lynley Dodd
The Lynley Dodd rhymes are simply magical and the books from the Hairy Maclary series all have a gentle softness about them that seems to have a calming effect on my son. Forget-me-not is a sad story (with a happy ending), about a dachshund called Schnitzel von Krumm who accidentally gets left behind when the family leaves on a camping trip.
Little Schnitzel is my son’s favourite dog in the series and this book brings out all the emotions: concern (when Schnitzel might be forgotten), sadness (when he is left behind), hope (when Miss Plum finds him) and joy (when he is reunited with the family). Not only does this give me a chance to talk about all these human emotions with my son, but the illustrations expertly show dogs’ emotions too, and I find it’s also a lesson on how to read a dog’s body language. As you turn the pages my son will gladly tell you that ‘he’s scared because his eyes are sideways’ and ‘he’s happy because his tail’s wagging’.
3. The Giant Postman by Sally Grindley
My mum and step-dad look after my son every Monday while we go to work. They have quite a collection of books at their house, but my son has very much latched onto this one. It’s a long story, and not all that interesting as a adult reader, although the colourful pictures of the large (and quite misunderstood) postman are kind of sweet.
I feel sorry for my mum when every nap-time my son demands that this is the book that must be read… and of course, being the wonderful grandma she is, she never says no.
4. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
The only book that has survived a whole year on the top-ten list, The Very Hungry Caterpillar is still a favourite. As you can imagine, I’ve read this so many times that I know it word-for-word and can recite it in the dark, at 3am, while I’m sitting on the edge of a single bed patting my son back to sleep.
He can recite it too, and he often whispers the words along with me, correcting me on Saturday if I say ‘ice cream cone’ instead of ‘pickle’. In the shadows I can just make out his little smile when we say together ‘and he was a beautiful butterfly’, before I sneak back to my own bed.
5. Help Mr. Giraffe and Friends Learn the Colours of the Rainbow by Aunty Cassie
You won’t find this book in any bookshops – it’s a hand-made Christmas present from my husband’s 15 year old sister Cassie. I was delighted when my son unwrapped these last Christmas and I’m so proud of Cassie every time he asks to be read ‘the rainbow book’. She’s done a brilliant job of showing all the colours of the rainbow through pictures of things my son loves – blueberries, a dinosaur, flowers – with each page expertly laminated (comes in handy when my son insists on licking each of the cupcakes).
The first time we read this my son surprised us all by pointing out a Minion character and saying ‘Minion’. We have never watched the movie together or talked about them, so I was blown away when he said it so matter-of-factly. It was a big realisation for me that my son’s world is now so much larger than what we offer at home.
6. The ABC Book of Rockets, Planets and Outer Space by Helen Martin, Judith Simpson and Cheryl Orsini
Given to us by a close friend who also has a two-year-old, this book quickly became a read-every-night kind of favourite. It covers many aspects of space and space travel, aimed at the toddler audience, and I have to admit I learnt a thing or two myself.
Two-year-old minds are little sponges, and it didn’t take long for my son to know how to recite all the planets, in order, from the sun out to Neptune. He learnt how to point out ‘our house’ on the map of Australia and describe how astronauts land in the ocean on return to Earth. A year ago in my last top ten books post he was calling cheese ‘ga-ga’ and recognising not much more than a slice of watermelon in The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It’s incredible how quickly they change.
7.The Bump by Mij Kelly
As my belly grows bigger and bigger with baby number 2, I’ve started looking for books that explain to our son about pregnancy, and what it might be like to be a big brother. I got The Bump from the library and found it was an instant hit. What I love about this book is that it explains pregnancy from the mother’s point of view, telling her child what it was like when they were inside. It gave us practical things to talk discuss – like how an ultrasound works – so our son had a better idea of what to expect.
It says how ‘her love, like the bump, grew and it grew’ and the last page makes me tear up every time.
8. Fun with Peter Rabbit: A lift-the-flap book by Peter Rabbit Seedlings
The last four months have been a whirlwind of hospital visits as we’ve learnt how to recognise and treat our son’s asthma attacks. He’s getting used to the trips to emergency and at times I think he sees them as a bit of an adventure.
The children’s section of emergency is just lovely. The nurses are wonderful (singing along to the ‘Wheels on the bus’ as I give my son his puffer and sneaking me an extra cheese sandwich whenever they can) and the bookshelves are surprisingly well-stocked. Fun with Peter Rabbit is my son’s favourite hospital book. It has four different stories and lots of flaps to lift, just the entertainment we need when he’s strapped up to the monitors and not allowed to leave his bed.
9. Cars: Crash Course by Disney Little Library
I have to admit, I’m not a fan of Disney. The whole commercialisation and entertainment-over-learning focus has never sat right with me, even before I had kids. But it was bound to happen eventually, whether I liked it or not.
‘Cars’ the movie has become my son’s favourite movie and he must have watched it 50 times (and counting). When we were given a free bag of goodies from daycare and he found this Cars book inside, he was thrilled. I read it to him whenever he asks, but I won’t be disappointed if this one is pushed off the top ten list by the time he’s three.
10. A Perfect Fathers Day by Eve Bunting
Now this is a delightful book! I bought this for my husband as a Father’s Day present in 2013 when our son was just 4 weeks old. It’s a beautiful story of a young girl, Susie, who takes her father out for the day to all his favourite places (which, coincidentally, turn out to be all of Susie’s favourite places). Eve Bunting captures both the exuberance of a three-year-old and the patience of a father as they visit each place.
Our son gets drawn into the story and has a comment to make on every page. He pretends to eat the icecream and drink the milkshake, laughs at the dog barking at the squirrel on the statue and is very concerned that the rubbish is falling out of the bin at the park. The book is just the right length to keep both of our interests throughout, and to calm him down before bedtime.
That’s it for this year. Do you recognise any of the books above from your child’s top ten?