By Kate Beles

We started reading, if you can call it that, just after Maxine was born, with picture books of baby faces, photos of animals, and lift-the-flap books. I rarely read the actual words of the book (until she was close to 1-year-old) and tried to keep everything interactive, or at least active. Some of our favorite first books were Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Where is Baby’s Belly Button?, Daddy and Me, and Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? I make lots of gestures, faces, and animal sounds, to the point of embarrassing myself in the Bookmans kids’ room and at the public library!


Now Max is becoming interested in one of my favorite things: narrative. Finally, a real story with a simple plot holds some allure! This is where books like In the Night Kitchen, Is Your Mama a Llama and Good Night Gorilla get fun, and we can read books about subjects like going to school, naptime, and potty training. Our time spent reading together has already been worth it: she will now sit quietly for 15 minutes or so at a time flipping through familiar books—I call that sweet respite!

Here is a short list of books we’ve read until they have almost fallen apart:

Boynton, Sandra (all) but we love Snuggle Puppy and Barnyard Dance best

Brown, Margaret Wise. Big Red Barn; Goodnight Moon; The Runaway Bunny.

Eastman, Philip D. Are You My Mother? and Go, Dog. Go!

Freeman, Don. Corduroy Hill, Eric. Where is Spot?

Keats, Ezra Jack. The Snowy Day.

Lansky, Bruce. The New Adventures of Mother Goose: Gentle Rhymes for Happy Times.

Martin, Bill Jr. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

McClure, Nikki. From Awake to Nap (illustrated with gorgeous woodcuts which I also used to decorate Maxine’s nursery!)

Ormerod, Jan. Sunshine (less known, but gorgeous)

Piper, Watty. The Little Engine That Could.

Rey, H. A. Curious George.

Scarry, Richard. Best Word Book; Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go.

Seuss, Dr. Hop on Pop, and Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? (although some Seuss is too wordy for young toddlers, the early readers are great)


We all know the reasons why we should read to our kids, but it is easy to forget how fun it can be! Also, it really pays off even in the short run, with a calmer, happier kiddo. There are lots of neat new books out there, but the classics are great too, since they often have some quality about them (amazing illustration, fabulous rhymes) that really hold interest in the long-haul.

Happy reading!