As if preparing for Thanksgiving weren’t stressful enough, I know some of you are hatching elaborate shopping plans for Black Friday – a few with the intention of getting all your Christmas gifts purchased in one day. The mere thought of joining the hordes on Friday morning gives me anxiety-induced chest pain, so I will limit my participation to Cyber Monday, which is sure to include a large cart full of books at Amazon.com. I admittedly went a little overboard last year.
For those of you shopping for children, I put together my lists of Best Board Books for Babies and Best Picture Books for Toddlers. The lists were inspired by a request from a high school friend who recently welcomed her first child and is building the foundations of her baby’s library. She wanted my recommendations for classics old and new.
The titles on my list are selected from our home library and include books that have universal appeal. They are either books I loved as a child or ones to which my daughters’ have been especially attracted. As requested, these are what I consider to be some of the best building blocks for a home library. As a result, the picture book list in particular does not include many of the quirkier finds I’ve written about in the past and will write about much more in the future.
Having compiled these lists, I’ll be the first to admit how imperfect they are. The selections were based solely on my own reactions as a child and the experiences I’ve had with my children (whose tastes may vary significantly from other children’s). But the process of developing the lists did make me incredibly curious about what the rest of you think are the most essential children’s library classics. I’d love to hear what additions you’d make!
Best Board Books for Babies
“Each Peach Pear Plum” by Allan and Janet Ahlberg
“Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” by Bill Martin and Eric Carle
“Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown
“Dear Zoo” by Rod Campbell
“Moo Baa La La La” by Sandra Boynton. Also try “Barnyard Dance” and the rest of the Boynton collection.
“Madeline Loves Animals” by John Bemelmans Marciano
“Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” by Jeanette Winter
“I Love You Through and Through” and “How Do I Love You” by Bernadette Rossetti Shustak and Caroline Jay Church
Bright Baby Books: “First Words” and “Colors”
Leslie Patricelli’s Books: “Big Little,” “Quiet Loud,” “No No Yes Yes,” “Yummy Yucky” and others.
Mini Masters Collection by Julie Merberg and Suzanna Bober: Stories, told in rhyming text, are based on the art of Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, Matisse, Renoir, Cassatt, Seurat, Degas, Gauguin and Rousseau.
Best Picture Books for Toddlers
The Eric Carle Collection: “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” in particular.
“Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak
The Madeline Series by Ludwig Bemelmans
“Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw
“Miss Rumphius” by Barbara Cooney (My all-time favorite)
“The Jolly Postman” by Alan and Janet Ahlberg
“Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst and Ray Cruz (The newest edition has Alexander depicted in color)
“Angelina Ballerina” by Katharine Holabird and Helen Craig
“The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein.
The Olivia Series by Ian Falconer
“How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight” and other dinosaur books by Jane Yolen and Mary Teague
“Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” and “Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3” by Bill Martin Jr., John Archambault and Lois Ehlert
“Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” and other books by Mo Willems
Mary Englebreit’s Mother Goose, Nursery Tales and Fairy Tales
“Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type” and other books by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin
“The Tub People” by Pam Conrad and Richard Egielski