Take a look, it’s in a book


The backs of cereal boxes, my mom’s beat-up copy of Betty Crocker’s cookbook, even the satellite TV guide; you name it, I’ll read it. I’ve always been an avid reader, and I know that having two English professors as parents played a key part in that. A love of books wasn’t a hobby I picked up; it was a simple part of life that was always present. Even as adults, my siblings and I have lots of inside jokes about our favorite kids books, dog-eared and read so many times our parents can still recite them with ease. (The words, “Captain Mac,” still strike an equal amount of fear and nostalgia in my dad.) My parents even wrote and had printed a children’s book as a baby gift – I know, they’re awesome J.

I knew way before I had my son that I wanted my kids to love reading, to get excited about learning, to enjoy spending time thinking and discussing. Too often growing up reading was seen as an “uncool” thing to do, that kids who spent time with their noses in books were antisocial, lonely, and weird. (For the record? All those Accelerated Reader points I racked up in middle school earned me a boatload of prizes, including a new TV, and translated into full rides to both college and grad school. So to my seventh-grade self, I say rock on.)

One way to take the stigma out of something? Make it so much a part of everyday life that it’s just one of several activities to choose from. We’ve read to our son since the day he was born, not just children’s books, but articles we are reading or recipe directions or road signs. As soon as he was old enough to have a distinct bedtime routine, the last piece has always been reading two books. We do the same thing at nap time. And we chose a daycare that emphasized the importance of literacy and early learning.

I was lucky to inherit a lot of my own children’s books from my mom, and one of the sweetest gifts I received while pregnant was a storybook-themed baby shower where guests were asked to write a note inside a children’s book, rather than a greeting card. Not only did it grow his library, but it’s so special to pull those books off the shelf and think of the gift-giver each time, and share their note with Owen. And, forget what you’ve been told about “reading levels” and what you think your child will understand – they’re learning regardless, and oftentimes, they’ll surprise you with what they’re capable of.


So here’s a list of what are, to me, 50 of the best children’s books for infants and toddlers. There are some oldies but goodies on here – “Captain Mac” included.

  1. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst.
  2. Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman.
  3. Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban
  4. Brown Bear Brown Bear by Eric Carle
  5. But No Elephants by Jerry Smath
  6. Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
  7. Corduroy by Don Freeman
  8. First 100 Words by Roger Priddy
  9. Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss
  10. Go Dog Go by P.D. Eastman
  11. Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
  12. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
  13. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
  14. Gregory the Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat
  15. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
  16. Henry’s Awful Mistake by Robert Quackenbush
  17. If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff
  18. Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg
  19. Little Critter’s Hansel and Gretel by Mercer Mayer
  20. Little Critter’s Just Go to Bed by Mercer Mayer
  21. Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney
  22. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
  23. Max’s Bath by Rosemary Wells
  24. My First Book Block – First Words (no author)
  25. No Roses for Harry by Gene Zion
  26. Noisy Nora by Rosemary Wells
  27. On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman
  28. One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
  29. Owen by Kevin Henkes
  30. Pajama Time by Sandra Boynton
  31. Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt
  32. Piggies by Don & Audrey Wood
  33. Robert the Rose Horse by Joan Heilbroner
  34. Rockabye Farm by Diane Johnston Hamm
  35. Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown
  36. That’s Not My Monkey by Fiona Watt
  37. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
  38. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
  39. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
  40. The Little Engine That Could by Waddy Piper
  41. The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone
  42. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  43. The Story About Ping by Kurt Wiese
  44. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
  45. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  46. The Wishing Well by Selma Coughlan & Mabel O’Donnell
  47. Time for Bed, Sleepyheads by Normand & Sandra Charter
  48. Too Many Monsters by Susan Meddaugh
  49. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
  50. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Happy reading! 🙂


3 thoughts on “Take a look, it’s in a book

  1. Pingback: 12 days (and counting) of Christmas books | The Sensible Home

  2. Pingback: Throwback Thursday: A Craftsman-inspired sage-and-chocolate nursery | The Sensible Home

  3. Pingback: Baby love (an ultimate registry) | The Sensible Home

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