Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers
Short sentences with rhythm and rhyme are essential for this age group. As children approach 3, this is an ideal time to introduce concepts such as numbers and colors.
As children develop around 3, they are ready for meatier stories. This is a great time to retell classics like “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” in your own words wherever you are- at night at bedtime, in the car, on line at the grocery store, or waiting for food to arrive at a restaurant. At this period of development children are very concerned with their families and every day life. Children may ask for books about babies, doctors, or pets. Indulge and follow through by selecting texts that reflect their interests and needs.
Repetition, repeated phrases, and predictable plot lines and language are a delight to this age group. Encourage children to join in with a chorus of “No more monkeys jumping on the bed!” Read and reread classics like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to encourage the mastery of a concept like the alphabet. And of course, read favorites over and over, asking the child to turn pages and retell the story to you as you go along.
Illustrations are integral to these stories and texts. Ask your child to point out details. Are there clues to what might happen next? How do the pictures help you understand the story better?
Books to consider adding to your home library or making part of your reading repertoire include nursery rhyme collections, Mother Goose books, alphabet and counting books.
Recommended Picture Books:
Big Fat Hen: Baker, K. (1997) Mama hen and her chicks act out the familiar nursery rhyme, “One, two, buckle my shoe.”
Ten, night, eight: Bang, M. (1983) An African-American father cuddles his daughter as they enjoy counting together.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar: Carle, E. (1987) The very hungry caterpillar eats his way through the week, then goes to sleep to awaken as a butterfly.
Bread and Jam for Frances, (1964), Hoban, L. Frances is a fussy eater. Unless mother can come up with a plan, Frances might eat bread and jam forever.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, (1967), Martin, B. Jr. Rhyming text and vivid collage by noted children’s book author and illustrator Eric Carle introduces children to animals and colors.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (1989), Martin, B. Jr. 26 rambunctious characters in a rhythmic, rhyming book about a lowercase alphabet with attitude.
Parade, (1987), Crews, D. Simple text and bright illustrations depict the anticipation, enjoyment, and letdown that are part of a parade.
Mama Cat Has Three Kittens, (1998), Fleming, D. Fluffy and Skinny have fun with Mama Cat while Boris naps. Boldly dyed torn paper illustrations.
Corduroy (1968), Freeman, D. A not-so-perfect teddy bear finds a home with a loving little girl.
My Dog Rosie (1994), Harper, I. While grandpa works nearby, a three-year-old girl reads to, plays with and feeds his big dog. Great illustrations.
Be Gentle!, (1985), Miller, V. Bartholomew, an enthusiastic young bear, discovers how to make friends with a small black kitten.
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. (1985), Numeroff, L. A circular tale of a mouse who has many requests.
Early Morning in the Barn, (1983), Tafuri, N. A group of adventurous chicks visit their friends.
Freight Train, (1978), Crews, D. Sparse text that features different parts of a freigt train with bright, colorful train cars.
Green Eggs and Ham, (1960), Seuss, Dr. A persistent Sam tries to convince his friend to try green eggs and ham.
Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book (2003), Morales, Y. Grandma Beetle thwarts the call of death in this funny trickster tale by preparing for her birthday party. She counts her chores one by one in both English and Spanish. Repetitive text is ideal for young readers/listeners.
A Sick Day for Amos McGee, (2010), Stead, P. Visually stunning illustrations accompany the story of a zookeeper whose animal friends take care of him when he stays home sick.
The Snowy Day, (1962), Keats, Ezra Jack. A classic story of a little boy playing in the snow.
The Story of Ferdinand, (1936), Leaf, M. Ferdinand loves to sniff and smell the flowers while the other bulls show off their brawn. When Ferdinand sits on a bee and is mistaken for a fierce bull, he is taken to the bullfights. But Ferdinand is not a fighter and his true nature comes out.
Another source for suggested titles: