a toddler, books and … tears?


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


Filed under books, mom, parent, Uncategorized

18 responses to “a toddler, books and … tears?

  1. Tanya B.

    Well, it’s been a long long long long long time since I read children’s books, but a favorite of mine when I was a wee one was “Mog the Forgetful Cat.” Here’s a funny “review” of it. http://www.vintagechildrensbooksmykidloves.com/2011/09/mog-forgetful-cat.html

  2. Tanya B.

    Oh! Oh! And the What-a-mess books.

  3. Maria G.

    You named a lot of N’s faves already. All of the If You Give A (Pig A Pancake, Mouse A Cookie, etc) books are faves here. N. loves Corduroy as of this week. Also all the Curious George books. Little Blue Truck is sweet. Rainbow Fish and Three Billy Goats Gruff. At C’s age, Big Red Barn was a big hit, Guess How Much I Love You, Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb. And Madeleine remains a fave — I know it by heart. It’s my “one more, please, mommy” book that I read to N in the dark after lights out. Miss you!

  4. Hi E!!!!

    I’ve recently rediscovered your blog. I LOVE IT!!! Thank you for sharing snip-its into you, your life and your beautiful family.

    I just read your post and immediately scattered through the house to all of our bookcases. I now sit in a pile of those with the most tattered corners, as those are the most loved.

    We All Went on Safari: A Counting Journey through Tanzania. (In my cart waiting to be sent to you).

    Meet Me at the Moon by Gianna Marino (also in my cart…L.’s favorite right now).

    The quiet book by Deborah Underwood – in good shape, but it made me think about your quiet place right now in the desert.

    Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin – my kiddos dance to this one all the time and laugh their heads off.

    Chester the Brave by Audrey Penn – I bought this for D before his brave surgery a few weeks ago. Sweet. I think it was possibly more for me to be brave before his minor procedure.

    Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin by Lloyd Moss – One of A.’s favorites.

    Never Tease a Weasel by Jean Conder Soule – A and D picked this out to be read at school last month.

    Zoozical by Judy Sierra – for my music boys.

    Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? by Nancy White Carlstrom – a good sing-a-long book and can also help motivate for when you want C to start getting dressed by himself (or with your help).

    I Love You Through and Through (I think this is by Caroline Church or Marion Dane Bauer

    How do I Love You by Marion Dane Bauer

    Happy reading to you Happy Living Girl! Sending hugs!!!!

  5. Have you thought about a book swap? I am sure there must be other families in your town going through the same dearth of reading material. Perhaps post at a local coffee shop or ask at the library if you could do it there and get everyone to bring 10 books to exchange.

    Our favourite here was Ten Little Ladybugs by Melanie Gerth. The ladybugs are stuck to the pages (can’t come off though) so they can feel them and count them once they know numbers.

  6. Heidi G.

    I LOVE YOU STINKY FACE!! One of Joey’s favorites!

    We can’t get enough of Mo Willems — any and all, esp the pigeon series. Here’s Joey reading one of them the other day! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9W3PisTvpjA

    We also love I Stink and I’m Mighty, both part of a very boy series by Kate McMullan. And Dig Ivan Dig from a series called Naughty Naughty Pets.

    I’m a sucker for the Story of Ferdinand because it’s such a great lesson and sums up my teenage years. 😉

  7. Joe

    Hi there E. Your list is very good. It was like looking at our kids’ bookcases when I was reading it.
    Try these out, too.
    “Giraffes Can’t Dance” (It turns out that they can. Damn, I just spoiled the ending)
    “Harry the Dirty Dog” (this is one of Emily’s favorites right now)
    Also check out the “Goodnight” series that is modeled after Goodnight Moon. They have one for many of the major cities in the United States, and it’s a cool way to teach the kids about the country.
    Good luck!

  8. Betsy Mosmiller

    this is one of the first one’s that comes to mind: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/276937.Underwear_?auto_login_attempted=true (I do a mean Bismark voice!)
    all the Boynton books are fun. Taxi Dog -the whole book rhymes, The Bernstein Bears and Little Critters were some of the girls’ favorites. Lots of good lessons, although def some bad behavior!

  9. Hello, Erin…we feel your pain!

    My name is Jordan, and I’m the Chief Mom for a new site, Zoobean (www.zoobean.com) that will help you find remarkable books for kids, handpicked by parents. We are in private beta until we launch for Children’s Book Week (May 13-18), and would love to invite you to test drive. If you sign up with your email at zoobean.com, we’ll be able to get in touch separately. Thanks!

    In the meantime, a few of our faves are:
    – All the World, Frazee
    – Baby Danced the Polka, Beaumont
    – Lola at the Library, Beardshaw
    – Anything by Todd Parr

  10. Pingback: toddler books, revisited | Happy Living

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