Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Reading Notes - Toddler's Top 20 for March 2011

Following on from last month's stroll down picture-book lane, here are 20 titles that are capturing the imagination of my 25-month-old at the moment.

Of last month's list the only ones to drop out of regular reading are the toddler lift-the-flap books - C seems to feel herself a bit beyond them now, and enjoys listening to an actual narrative in her stories. All the rest are still in high rotation!

1. Owl Babies (Martin Waddell)

2. Can't You Sleep, Little Bear? (Martin Waddell)

3. Snow Bears (Martin Waddell)

All of my children have loved Martin Waddell's gentle, whimsical stories as toddlers. C, like her big sister E before her, is especially enchanted with Owl Babies, Waddell's endearing little tale about three baby owls waiting for their mother to come home from hunting. C always sighs at the end and, echoing the story, turns to me to say, "I love my Mummy!"

4. Where is the Green Sheep? (Mem Fox)

5. Koala Lou (Mem Fox)

I doubt there would be a single month in the past 7 years (since I first started reading picture books to my eldest child) that at least one Mem Fox book hasn't been in the 'favourites' pile.

C is currently close to obsessed with Where is Green Sheep - she likes to say all of the sheep activities herself, and is never content with less than three readings in a sitting of this book.

She is also very attached to Koala Lou, the story of a little koala who wants to be reassured of her mother's love, little knowing that her mother loves her all the time. (I would definitely list Koala Lou as among my own top 3 Mem Fox books, so reading it over and over is no chore to me ;-)

6. Down the Back of the Chair (Margaret Mahy)

This is an absolute hoot of a book. If you don't know this brilliant, classic children's poem, or haven't seen it with Polly Dunbar's terrific illustrations, I'd urge you to make its acquaintance.

This is one of the books on toddler's playlist, along with Fiona the Pig, the Little Miss books, and The Magic Beach, that inevitably draws the big kids in to listen, too - none of can resist its absurdity, powerful driving rhyme, and zest. (After all, we've all lost things in our time ... down the back of the chair!)

7. Little Miss Tiny (Roger Hargreaves)

8. Little Miss Sunshine (Roger Hargreaves)

9. Little Miss Bossy (Roger Hargreaves)

10. Little Miss Wise (Roger Hargreaves)

All three of my girls like the Mr Men and Little Miss books, although I'd say C has cottoned to them a bit younger than A and E did (probably a function of the fact that A, the 7.5 year old, enjoys these stories so she will happily read 3 or 4 of them in a row out to C!) I picked out these four titles fairly randomly, although Little Miss Tiny is undoubtedly her favourite ("MY Miss Tiny!" she exclaims, clutching it to her chest). In reality, she has enjoyed many more books in the series than this.

As an aside, while I think these books are mostly fun and visually appealing, I've never been able to set aside my faint crankiness that Hargreaves felt the need to call them LITTLE Miss books. Mr Men, so why LITTLE Miss? Why not just "Miss"? Why infantalise the female characters in the nomenclature, when they are not actually children any more than the male characters are? A minor quibble perhaps, but it does irritate me.

11. The Ravenous Beast (Niamh Sharkey)

Now THAT'S what I call hungry! Very amusing book.

12. Pumpkin Soup (Helen Cooper)

13. Delicious! (Helen Cooper)

We have long been fans of Helen Cooper in this household, and her wonderful Pumpkin Soup series are probably our favourites of all. C loves the gorgeous illustrations, and adores the Duck with a fervent, unshakeable devotion. I imagine she's going to enjoy helping when we road-test the soup recipe from this book soon!

14. Fiona the Pig (Leigh Hobbs)

15. Fiona the Pig's Big Day (Leigh Hobbs)

There are some pretty charming pigs in kids' fiction - Olivia and Wilbur (Charlotte's Web) spring immediately to mind, as does TV's rather oddly drawn Peppa Pig - but I think Fiona would have to one of the sweetest and funniest of all. C loves her blonde ringlets in particular!

16. Go, Dog, Go! (P D Eastman)

I have written before about our love of P D Eastman's works, and C has put the bright and cheery Go, Dog, Go! back on the frequent list this month.

17. Too Many Pears! (Jackie French)

I love this book to bits, partly for its artwork but mostly for its humour and ability to engage a toddler's brain.

C thinks Pamela the cow is just the funniest thing she ever saw, and she ooohs and ahhhhs every time at the amount of pears that Pamela eats. Often she exhorts her, "No, Pam'la! You will be SO SICK, Pam'la!"

18. The Magic Beach (Alison Lester)

My older kids still adore this wonderful book, and C is just in the last week coming to an appreciation of it. I think it is probably still a stretch for her but the lovely, evocative pictures help get her there.

19. Put Me in the Zoo (Robert Lopshire)

I remember having this book read to me as a child, and all of my girls have liked it. C enjoys pointing out the colour changes with the spots (having recently fully mastered her colours, she likes deploying her skills at every opportunity).

20. Sleepy Dog (Harriet Ziefert)

This one is much more linguistically simple that the narrative stories listed above, represented in short disconnected phrases ("Sleepy, sleepy, up to bed / Head on pillow. Nose under covers. Cat on bed") rather than full sentences or paragraphs. C likes it when she's feeling tired or when she's looking at books by herself, pointing at pictures and phrases and repeating them (from memory, one assumes - 2 is a little early for pre-reading!)

Anyone else have any thoughts on these books, or other toddler favourites?


  1. Ah, these bring back so many happy memories! We've pulled out lots of the old picture books the past few weeks doing the K-2 section of the Premier's Reading Challenge. So lovely hearing 'Koalu Lu' again after such a long gap in our house!

  2. Are there any Anthony Browne's on high rotation there at the moment? We are going through an Anthony Browne renaissance at the moment, with all the 'younger' ones as well as the older ones like Silly Billy, Hansel & Gretel, Piggy Book and King Kong.

  3. Oh, Anthony Browne! HOW my secondborn loved him!

    Toddler enjoys Silly Billy, but hasn't really cottoned to any of the others yet. Maybe in time?

    And yes, Koala Lou is such a dear story, isn't it. I luffs it greatly.