Hayes loves a good book. His mama loves a good book. His daddy loves a good outdoors or handyman magazine. So, I wanted to document and remember some of the books that are Hayes’ current favorites—a couple of newer ones, but mostly some old faithfuls that he goes back to time after time.
First things first, my students during the 2010-2011 school year and their families gifted us with an insanely gorgeous bookshelf as we awaited Hayes’ arrival, painted blue and decorated with clouds to mirror the cover of my favorite children’s picture book by Sarah L. Thomson, Imagine a Day. Check it and its companion books out here. In addition, my students lovingly filled his bookshelf with their favorite books from toddlerhood. I will never forget their kindness and generosity, and the emotion I felt when receiving the gift. It was so very special.
Hayes’ bookshelf is now filled to capacity with tons and tons of books. Board books, hardback picture books, anthologies, paperback picture books, collections, etc. He definitely enjoys pulling all of his books off the shelf, but we’ve recently started working on putting the books back up on the shelf. Hopefully he’ll inherit his mommy’s appreciation for all things orderly. For the most part, we have to stay away from the hardback and paperback books because he doesn’t quite understand the idea of being careful with the pages, but when the timing is right, we do enjoy our Curious George hardback anthology or our nice copy of Love You Forever (when we can get through it without crying!)
Right now we mostly read board books, and we have a lot of them. Here is what I think are 10 of his favorites:
10. Baby Faces, from DK Publishers, the same publishers who make those awesome hardback nonfiction books that teach about everything from Vikings to Jewelry. We love this book because of its simplicity; each page shows a baby’s face portraying an emotion or illustrating a characteristic (happy, crying, tired, dirty). We’ve read this one so many times that when we say, “Hayes, can you show me surprised?” he puts his hand over his wide-open mouth as though he’s in shock. So cute. I learned early on that babies love to look at others’ faces*, and this is most certainly true.
*sidenote: we hung a picture board above H’s changing table so he could study faces when he was very little. The photos we hung were of our sweet friends and family who came to visit during the first few weeks of H’s life. Now, the picture board is a great conversation piece during diaper changes or the bedtime routine.
9. Pajama Time by Sandra Boynton. Love her. We love the “pajammy to the left, pajammy to the right” dance. It is the perfect naptime or bedtime book, we promise! Hayes now likes to talk about what his pajamas look like, mimicking what they do in the book…”some are red and some are blue, some are old and some are new.”
8. Goal! My Soccer Book by David Diehl. This was a gift from a friend who knows all about daddy’s distinguished soccer career. There is one soccer-related term per page (cleat, throw-in, header) and the story told through the pictures leads up to one player scoring a goal. We make sound effects and motions on the pages like “trap” and “bicycle kick,” and on the last page, we chant together, “Goal!” with our arms raised in the air. Since the players in the book have numbers on their jerseys, we’ve also been able to point out what numbers look like while talking about soccer. It’s a win-win, especially in daddy’s eyes. P.S. We are watching the Italy-Spain EuroCup final as I write. P.P.S. Spain ends up winning, 4-0. Olé!
7. On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman. This one was a gift from a sweet friend on the evening of our book club baby shower (thanks, Cheryl!). We love the rhythm and cadence in this book, and we’re teaching Hayes to whisper his name at just the right time. The illustrations are lovely, and it’s just a gem. Wish I had it in hardback.
6. Mrs. Mustard’s Baby Faces by Jane Wattenberg. Yep, baby faces again. This accordion book folds out, and half the pictures are photos of babies laughing and smiling while the other half show babies who are sad and crying (one particularly distraught baby even has a bubble coming from his nostril!). We love to make up a unique laugh and cry for each of the babies. It’s actually kind of hard to do, but Hayes has fun!
5. My New Friends, A Funny Finger book by Karin Blume and Brigitte Pokornik. There is text in this book, but the fun part is taking your fingers and making a dog’s wagging tail, a bird’s wing, a little boy’s legs pumping on a swing, etc. We all enjoy the interactive nature of this book.
4. The Very First Christmas by Suzanne Berry (a Hallmark recordable storybook); Hayes’ Papa and Mia recorded themselves reading this Christmas story before he was born, and it became a big hit (once Hayes figured out it was not his grandparents actually reading in that moment, but rather their voices coming from the speaker). He likes to turn the pages, hear his Papa and Mia’s voices and squeal, “Pa-pa!” “Ma-Meen!” These books are such a cool way to connect people when they can’t actually be together.
3. I Love You Through and Through by Bernadette Rossetti Shustak; this book is just a wonderfully sweet way to tell your children just how much they mean to you. We love to point to Hayes’ head, feet, fingers, and toes when we read, and even though he’s just a little guy, it helps us show him that we love him unconditionally–even when he’s angry, when he makes a mess, etc. As parents, we ready do love everything about our babies, don’t we?
2. The Belly Button Book by Sandra Boynton. Obviously, we love Ms. Boynton’s silly rhyming books. This one is no exception; it’s fun to say “BE BO!” for belly button, and Hayes loves to point out the page with the balloon (see video). This book has peaked Hayes’ interest in his and others’ belly buttons; it makes for an interesting situation when Hayes searches to find our “be-bo’s” when we’re out in public.
1. I Touch by Rachel Isadora; thank you, Mrs. Irvin for this wonderful book that teaches babies how to describe what they are feeling with their hands! I really think Hayes learned the word, “hot” by listening to us read this book (“I do not touch the cup; it’s hot.”), and he is now able to tell us when his food is too hot, that the oven is hot, and that the temperature outside is hot—which is really REALLY is right now! This book talks about how leaves are crunchy, lollipops are sticky, newspaper crinkles, etc. So powerful for learning.
And just for fun, books that don’t quite make the bedtime routine every night, but are a close 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, and 15th:
Moo, Baa, La La La by Sandra Boynton (thanks Jenny and Mairn!)
Halloween Has Boo! by Harriet Ziefert
My First ABC Board Book, DK Publishers
That’s Not My Monster (a feel-and-learn book) by Fiona Watt
Waddle (a scanimation picture book) by Rufus Butler Seder
Happy reading and toddler snuggling!