Our little girl is two! It feels like it should be a lot older than that because 1) she certainly makes her presence known, and 2) we can’t imagine a life without her.
A year ago I listed her top ten books and I’m thrilled that her obsession with books has continued. She’s an active little thing, and reading seems to be the only way we can keep her still. When I sit on the lounge she snuggles in so closely, and hangs off every word.
1. Peppa Goes Ice Skating by Ladybird
Ahhhh, Peppa Pig. Where do I start?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s no wonder it’s a popular TV show. Easy storylines. Short, 5-minute episodes. But since the introduction of brilliant, modern shows like Bluey, I’m starting to get sick of the whole ‘Daddy Pig is hopeless’ and ‘girls-do-this-and-boys-do-that’ attitudes that seem to plague every Pig episode.
My daughter, of course, thinks Peppa is amazing. And you don’t argue with a 2-year old.
Peppa Goes Ice Skating is one of her favourite books and it’s actually quite enjoyable to read. My daughter likes to check that Miss Rabbit is handing out the right skates for Daddy, Mummy, Peppa and George, and enjoys running her fingers over the loopy trail Peppa has left in the in the ice.
2. Handstand by Lisa Stickley
Now that her big brother has started school, I take my daughter to gymnastics on Thursdays. She’s always had brilliant balance and strength and a complete disregard for safety, so ‘nastics’ has been the perfect outlet. Although she’s yet to master a handstand, she’s fully aware that she and the girl in this book have a lot in common.
Handstand is about a girl who attempts to handstand for one second longer than the previous day, over seven days. Sometimes she uses the fence, sometimes her dad helps and other times she talks about the creatures she meets along the way. It’s a sweet book that, in addition to being a great way to learn counting, shows a little bit of persistence is all you need to achieve truly great things.
3. Who’s in the Loo by Jeanne Willis and Adrian Reynolds
This book is simply so funny. We’ve got this one from the library twice now and I won’t be disappointed if it comes back through another rotation. It’s (quite literally) toilet humour, using lots of words you wouldn’t usually see in a kids book… like poo, widdle, stink and wee, and ends with a cute message about washing your hands. The illustrations are bright and exaggerated; I don’t think I’ll ever get the image out of my head of that poor rhino that’s had a hot curry.
We enjoyed this one because it’s entertaining to not just the 2-year old and the 5-year old, but the 37-year olds too.
4. Draw Me a Star by Eric Carle
This is a story about dreams, creativity and the connections between grandparents and their grandchildren. Carle’s repetition and rhythm makes it more like a poem than a storybook, and it seems to have a calming effect on my daughter. The instructions on how to draw a 7-pointed star by following the nonsense poem (‘Kri-kra toad’s foot, geese walk bare-foot’) is often repeated when we’re playing at the park or driving in the car.
We’d originally discovered this one at the library, and my Nan since bought it for my daughter for Christmas so it’s ours to keep. I’m glad, because although I love reading the story I have a sense that there’s a much deeper meaning that I haven’t quite got. I’m expecting that one day the lightbulb will go off and I’ll fully understand the genius that is Eric Carle.
5. Chip by Kylie Howarth
A seagull called Chip is banned from his local eatery because he becomes too aggressive towards the customers, then finds a way to win back the shopkeeper’s love and respect. It’s quite a simple story, with super cute illustrations and a topic that’s very relateable to the 2-year-old (“My love chippees thiiiiiis much, Mummy!”, as she holds her arms as wide as they will go.)
Chip was a library book that stayed at our house for only a couple of weeks, but was read every single night, usually after showers but before dinner, snuggled under a blanket with my favourite little boy on one side, and my favourite little girl on the other.
6. Everybunny Dance by Ellie Sandall
Our 2-year-old loves rabbits and loves dancing, so Everybunny Dance appeals to both these interests. This sweet story is about caring for the misunderstood under-dog (or ‘under-fox’ in this case) and celebrating a talented dancer no matter where they are in the forest food-chain.
Our daughter’s love of rabbits hasn’t changed in over a year, and just like last year she’s asked for a rabbit-shaped cake for her third birthday. She’s also asked for an actual pet rabbit. Let’s hope she’s not too disappointed when all she gets is the cake…
7. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
These books are from at least a generation ago, if not two, and have somehow ended up on our bookshelves here. We have almost the entire set of the Peter Rabbit series, from ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ to ‘The Tale of Mrs Tiddy-Winkle’ and ‘The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck’.
The combination of their size (they’re about half the size of other children’s books) and the fact they have pictures of rabbits in them, have made them the perfect play books for our daughter. She doesn’t ask us to read them to her. Instead, she gets a couple from the bookshelf, loads them onto her little blue car, and takes them to her ‘babies’ to read. I’ll often find her sitting in another room, a Peter Rabbit book open and a teddy bear on her lap as she streams sentences of random words together. She’ll then snap the book shut, exclaim ‘Time to go to work!’ and drive her teddy to daycare for the day.
8. Aussie Jingle Bells by Colin Buchanan and Nick Bland
Our daughter got this book off the shelf at Christmas and, 5 months later, it’s yet to go back. It’s about a real Aussie bush Christmas, and has lots of things we can relate to as well. The main thing it gets right for us that so many other books don’t (Peppa’s Christmas, anyone?) is that it’s a scorching summer’s day. There’s no snow. No chimneys. No scarves and beanies. Just backyard cricket, a panting dog, and Uncle Bruce leaping into the pool still fully-clothed.
I have to admit, it’s a tough one to read because it relies on singing ability (of which I have very little). But I belt out the tune to Jingle Bells in the semi-darkness while curled on the edge of a cot mattress, and although I’m hardly hitting any of the notes, our 2-year-old doesn’t seem to mind one bit.
9. Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey and Tom Lichtenheld
I loved this book when it was a favourite of the first child, and now the second child loves it too. It’s a soothing, calming book about construction, that gives the vehicles sweet child-like personalities such as wanting to sleep with a teddy or under a blanket. It talks about how rough and tough they are, but balances this out with the softer sides of each.
This is one book (of many) where I change the hes to shes and the hims to hers as I read aloud. When I see the book as a bunch of strong, tough, independent female vehicles, I love it even more. And when we get to the page where the bulldozer lets out her roar, we roar together so loudly it shakes the house.
10. Ask Me by Antje Damm
My daughter loves a conversation. If you’re not actively talking to her, she’ll start chatting to herself, or her Barbie (‘Bar-bar’), or ‘Shaun’ (her pet emu hand puppet). Or she’ll pick up my phone and randomly call people (often before 6am).
So Ask Me is a perfect book for her. It was a favourite of her brother’s last year and he’ll often join us for the conversation. I usually promise her 5 pages per night, and we take turns asking the questions (such as ‘What have you brought home from holiday?’, ‘Do you ever see animals in the clouds?’) She’s creative, quirky and down-right hilarious with her answers.
And when she asks me the question, ‘What do you wish for?’ I look down at her perfect little face and wish there was some way to keep her just like this, in this moment, forever.
That’s it for her favourite books this year. I wonder if any will stick around to double-up on next year’s list?Follow @jessieansons
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