One of the wonderful things — and curses — of living in the desert is the quiet. So much quiet. The wind is fierce, the air is dry and the summers are hot. This week, the temperatures are pushing 100 degrees — a hint of what’s to come. Our swamp cooler kicks on at random times during the day and I have to park under trees and stretch a shade across the windshield.
There aren’t many toddler classes in town, the city is shutting down its only public pool for lack of resources and it’s getting too hot to go to the park.
That means that C. and I are spending most of our time at home or at the library. At home, we don’t watch TV — and so we read. A lot.
The tiny, shabby desert library is open Tuesday-Thursday and the kids’ section is meager. We’ve run across gems like Jim Aylesworth’s “Little Bitty Mousie” and Pamela Edwards’ “Warthogs Paint” about colors (C. still calls everything “bue”), but I feel like in a few weeks we’ll have picked over the stock.
As I skim through books, I notice that many of them have characters behaving badly, and I gently close them and return them to the shelves. A. and I have read that what you read to kids can influence them in ways you might not realize. Kids don’t have the staying power or ability to comprehend a resolution. They just pick up the bad behavior.
What we didn’t expect was for a book to make C. cry. This is new for our almost 17-month-old: His chin wobbles and he tears up when a book ends with a “goodbye.” He has no problem saying bye to A. in the morning, or bye to me if A. takes him to Home Depot. But a book about a mouse leaving a museum had him crying over the weekend. And a book about boats had him in hysterics yesterday evening.
The boat book is about ferry boats and row boats and passenger boats and cruise ships. And people load on the cruise ship and wave goodbye to others taking off. The next page, the boat is smaller as it sails away. And on the last page, the boat is tiny, and it says, simply, “Bon voyage.” C. wanted to read it three times, and each time he cried more loudly and held my neck tightly. I asked him if he was sad and he nodded — and kept crying. I finally had tell him that no one is getting on a boat and I’m not going to leave him. He seemed to calm down after that. It’s probably an emotional break-through for our little sensitive soul — and calling it “sweet” would be an understatement. Regardless, this book is going back to the library today.
And so, I’m desperate for age-appropriate books for this little guy. I know there’s a whole world out there that I’m missing. So I ask of you: What are you favorite toddler books? Please share. I’ll owe you. Big time.
Here are some of ours, so far:
- “Barnyard Dance” by Sandra Boynton
- “The Foot Book,” “Hop on Pop,” “Mr. Brown Can Moo!,” “Dr. Seuss’s ABC,” “Cat in the Hat,” by Dr. Seuss
- “Sheep Take a Hike” by Nancy Shaw
- “If You Give a Pig a Party” and “If You Give A Moose a Muffin” by Laura Numeroff
- “Caps for Sale,” by Esphyr Slobodkina
- “Goodnight Moon,” by Margaret Wise Brown
- “Little Green,” by Keith Baker
- “I Love You Stinky Face,” by Lisa Mccourt and Syd Moore
- “Hug,” by Jez Alborough
- “Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You,” by Nancy Tillman
- “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” by Eric Carle
- “Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons,” by James Dean and Eric Litwin