This is the season of youth and new beginnings--there's a reason people talk about spring chickens, right? Which is why we're thinking about books for our smallest customers, the ones just embarking on a lifetime of literacy. Here's a list of new titles for those new to reading, books that will bring joy and delight this spring, this summer, and beyond.
We always think of reading for the 0 to 2 set in two categories--books that entertain the parents while a cute baby goos and gahs (and learns to focus on pages and voices) and books that a little one can start to understand and relate to. For the first category, pick something from the older picture book age groups and you'll grow into it. Let's Find Momo! falls into the second category and we love it. For each spread the image on the right is an everyday setting (a bedroom, a library) and the image on the left side is four things to find in that scene. Momo--an adorable black and white Australian shepherd is always one of the four images. His cute face will drawn in the child reader and make the parents smile. Finding the various objects is a great way to get in early word acquisition and helps to teach attention to the page.
Normally we don't recommend books with sound (they can be pretty annoying), but this book does everything right--the sounds aren't too loud, there's an on/off switch, and they make you want to dance. I Love Music is a few simple pages of animals playing instruments. The reader presses a button on the instrument and a short tune plays. It's a fun introduction to instruments and sounds and it enforces the idea of engaging with the page. Also, like I said, it encourages a quick little dance! When I'm doing story time I appreciate a book that reminds me to jump up and move.
Plenty of chances for word acquisition, shiny foil to draw the eye of babies and toddlers, Karen Katz's sweet, bubbly illustrations, and FLAPS! make this an easy recommendation. It might not have the story to become a bedtime classic, but it certainly hits a lot of the key elements to keep tiny readers interested.
We wish every shape in the world could have a book as compelling and lyrical as Round. Sidman's book manages to be poetic, instructive, joyful, and magical all at the same time. I recommend it most for age 2 to 4 because there is a fantastic few pages at the back about roundness in nature. It can inspire conversations (and summer nature walks). It would make a sweet baby shower gift as well!
Danny's sister Frannie calls his bluff when he says he can drink the sea. What follows is a completely funny, wonderfully rhyming, trip around the world as Danny gobbles everything up. Until Frannie ... well, we don't want to give anything away, but, as Frannie says, little brother can be SO annoying!
It all starts when Pig finds Cow sleeping in his sty. Of course, he kicks him out and says, "Go sleep in your own bed!" But when Cow gets to his stall he finds Chicken! And on it goes. It's a tour of all the places animals sleep with a satisfying ending. This is also the age that many kids face the challenge of staying a night in their own bed so this book can do double duty.
Mr. Brown has a hat for anything that comes along from a rainy day to a parade, even pirates. When he finally (so many different hats!) arrives at his destination he finds a hat he'd completely forgotten about - his own birthday party hat. Repetition teaches kids foreshadowing. They learn to anticipate what's next and that's an important part of reading comprehension. But most importantly, a bear in different hats is hilarious.
This is one of our favorite picture books of the year. It's as strange as you'd imagine from Lemony Snicket (author of the Series of Unfortunate Events series and others). Goldfish Ghost rises up out of his bowl and floats around the town looking for someone interesting to talk to. He sees plenty of other people, animals, and ghosts, but doesn't find someone interesting until he is befriended by a ghost in a lighthouse. Yes, you might have to explain what a ghost is, but it will be worth to be able to share this book.
Another of our most favorite picture books of the year. Local author, Corinna Luyken, shows us that there are always mistakes in art (and, of course, in life), but if we're creative when they happen they might not be mistakes at all. The mistakes are funny, the lesson light-handed, and the final few pages turn this from great to award-worthy.