Thursday, March 3, 2011

Reading Notes - This month's Top 20

The big girls are into all sorts of books, and so is the toddler. At 2, naturally, she loves repetition, so although her exposure to different texts is very broad over time, within any given month we might read the same 20 or 30 books over and over again, rather than reading 100 different books (as would be truer of the picture-book habits of the 5-year-old).

It's interesting to me to see where her tastes lie as time progresses, and as I am One of Those Evil People Who Writes About The Mundanity of Their Entirely Uninteresting Life, Thereby Clearly Forcing Others to Read It, As They Are Incapable of Simply Looking Away, I thought, what the heck, I'll do a monthly Top 20 for toddler, as a record for me and her.

And if you don't have a toddler and / or are uninterested in children's picture books, move on. Nothing to see here.

So, Toddler's Top 20 for the month of February 2011:

1. Hairy Maclary, Sit! (Lynley Dodd)

2. Hairy Maclary and Zachary Quack (Lynley Dodd)

3. Schnitzel von Krumm's Basketwork (Lynley Dodd)

4. Slinky Malinki's Catflaps (Lynley Dodd)

5. Hairy Maclary, Shoo! (Lynley Dodd)

The top 5 positions all belong to Lynley Dodd and her wonderful, toddler-pleasing Hairy Maclary books. We've got about 15 of these books in total, but these five in particular are very dear to my 2-year-old's heart. She loves the rhyme and rhythm of the stories, the vibrant artwork, and the antics of Hairy and his posse so much.

6. The Willy-Willy and the Ant (Retold by Cecelia Egan)

7. Tiddalik, Or the Frog Who Wouldn't Laugh (Retold by Cecelia Egan)

The toddler is also very enamored at the moment of these two retellings of Aboriginal dreamtime stories - one about the whirlwind (willy willy), one about Tiddalik, the giant frog who swallowed all the fresh water in the world.

8. Mr Pusskins (A Love Story) (Sam Lloyd)

This is a total charmer of a book, featuring a very catly cat (ungrateful, disdainful and offhand, at least at the beginning). I can never read it without being reminded of the old axiom that while dogs have masters, cats have staff ;-)

9. My Many-Coloured Days (Dr Seuss)

Some days as yellow, some days are blue ... On different days I'm different too. The toddler, like both her sisters before her, is enchanted with this gentle riff on moods.

10. Peek-a-Baby! (Karen Katz)

11. Where Is Baby's Mommy? (Karen Katz)

C likes a good old lift-the-flap book as much as any self-respecting toddler, and Karen Katz's simple and colourful illustrations make these ones particular favourites.

12. Charlie & Lola - I am Not Sleepy and I Will Not Go to Bed (Lauren Child)

13. Charlie & Lola - I Will Not Ever, Never Eat a Tomato (Lauren Child)

14. Charlie & Lola - This is Actually My Party (Lauren Child)

Now, Charlie and Lola are an interesting phenomenon to me. All three of my kids have adored them in turn, although C has developed her attachment the earliest (she really seems to keep pace with the stories too, amazingly), but none of them have been too bothered about the TV series, and the elder two now are quite disinterested in the books. It also hasn't translated into any taste for Lauren Child's older offerings - my 7 year old tried, and disliked, one of her Clarice Bean books (it is one of the few things she's ever taken back to the library half-read).

For me, I find these books just a little grating after repeated readings. Charlie is just a bit *too* patient and mature, Lola a bit *too* predictably inconsiderate and childish (as opposed to childlike, which is a different trait and one that I highly value in storybook characters). Still, I know many adults who rave about them, so to each their own.

15. Doggies! (Sandra Boynton)

Well, Sandra Boynton is a classic of the preschool set, after all.

16. Bertie and the Bear (Pamela Allen)

The variety of noises that accompany this story make it a great read for toddlers, and, I have discovered, a great engager for multi-age playgroup storytime as well.

17. We're Going on a Bear Hunt (Michael Rosen)

C likes to do the action to this classic story - "Froo the grass! Swishy-swashy, Swishy-swashy!" she calls excitedly. I love that this is a story that can be played as much as read.

18. How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? (Mark Teague / Jane Yolen)

We have several of the excellent How Do Dinosaurs series, but this one is C's favourite of them all. She kisses the dinosaurs on each page ;-)

19. Time for Bed (Mem Fox)

C has this as a bedtime story, firmly choosing it over the toddler-night-routine tales of the older girls (my 7 year old was a Goodnight Moon kid, while the 5 year old was all about Owl Babies and nursery rhymes as bedtime). Like most Mem Fox books, it is beautiful.

20. Olga the Brolga (Rod Clement)

Again I think rhyme is the key to the engagement of this story - that and the beautiful illustrations. It's a fun one to read aloud too - even repetitively!

If you have toddlers, what books do yours go for? Does it change much month to month?

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