TODDLER | Books We Love 3yo – Q1

This quarter we have a LOT of books. Partly because we started going to the library more (and actually utilizing the library for the first time in the children’s section – I have taken out a lot of books for me in the past but never children’s books), and partly because she grabbed some old ones off her shelf and refused to go to sleep without reading them. Some may be repeats from previous quarters, but here’s the massive list.

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Strictly No Elephants is a story I found on Amazon while perusing the children’s books, so it was a hit or miss since I hadn’t seen the inside or read the story. Turns out I liked this book a lot. It’s about a little boy with an “odd” pet who is ousted by his neighborhood pals. He finds a girl with another odd pet and they start a club for everyone. It’s sweet and easy to understand story by Lisa Mantchev, with nice illustrations by Taeeun Yoo.

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It’s no secret I’m a fan of Jon Klassen. His stories and artwork are both simple and beautiful, and with each re-read I find details I missed the previous time. I Want My Hat Back is another in the “hat trilogy” and it captured my daughter’s attention. We read this at lunch times, nap times, and bed times over and over again, so it’s on the Christmas list.

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I picked up “It’s Great Being a Dad” simply because I can’t say I’ve seen many books that focus on dads. In addition, this dad and majority of the characters aren’t white (which is something that’s really been on my radar lately with all that’s been going on.) Turns out this book is fun, well-written, and the stories are very cute. My daughter loved this one!

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Mister Seahorse was another book about all male sea creatures that take care of their babies’ eggs after the female partner lays them. It was very interesting and pretty eye-opening, plus the book is filled with the creative illustrations of Eric Carle (and had some plastic layovers which were fun for my daughter to lift and see what was underneath).

Walk With Me and Two White Rabbits are by a duo I had never heard of but had the pleasure of discovering at the library. Jairo Buitrago and Rafael Yockteng wrote and illustrated these book in Spanish, but we read the translated versions. The stories have few words, yet those words and pictures tell a rich story. These books touch on topics I haven’t seen in childrens’ books before but found to be very heart-wrenching – especially Walk With Me. It is about a daughter who goes to school in a rough area who must walk home alone, get food, and take care of herself and her younger brother until her mother gets home, late in the day, from work. We don’t know where the father is, though he makes an appearance in a photograph at the end. Two White Rabbits is about a girl and her father travelling to make it to another country (presumably America). We both preferred Walk With Me, but I was interested in Two White Rabbits as it is a simple way to introduce immigration to children.

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Another Jon Klassen illustrated book – written by Mac Barnett – so it’s not a surprise we liked it. In fact, we liked it so much that I bought it. These two boys (brothers?) dig a very interesting hole in search of something spectacular, and although they seem to miss things at every turn, they get a surprise ending. It’s interesting to read these stories as an adult because I’m looking at it from a perspective of “What does this really mean? What could the author be saying here?” whereas my daughter likes it simply because it’s an interesting story with beautiful colors. So, we’re both getting something out of it.

Golden books, how we love thee. At $5 a pop, they’re economical, and since they’re licensed you know the stories and illustrations are going to be correct, so I say it’s a win win. Trolls has become a recent favorite movie in this house, in addition to the old standbys of Frozen and Rudolph (all year round), and all four of these have been in the rotation this time around.

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This all stemmed from Ada Twist – Scientist. There is an illustration of an octopus on one of the pages, so I started teaching my daughter about octopuses (octopi? I can’t figure out which one is correct). That let to some videos on a really neat octopus in the Maldives, and then, naturally, to The Beatles “Octopus’s Garden.” Turns out Ringo Starr has a children’s book (illustrated by the talented Ben Cort) with the lyrics to the song (and a 1.5 minute video teaser which is how we found the book). This, and the video, were favorites for a long time.

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This book came from a friend as it’s one of her son’s favorites, and I can see why. The illustrations are realistic and beautiful, and the story is well-written. I find it fun to use different voices for the different animals and they always take my daughter by surprise.

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Full disclosure, I’ve never read this book. It may be a best seller, but apparently in this house I’m not allowed to read it aloud. Every time I tried, my daughter would cry. I think she was afraid of the dragons. My husband, however, just read through the crying and has been allowed to read this one at story time for a while. Apparently it’s good – everyone tell me so. One of these days I’ll take it and read it to myself.

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Highlights Magazine is one of my favorite memories from when I was a child, so when my grandmother offered to get my daughter a subscription to the infant books and then continue into the 2-5yo magazines, I said “Absolutely.” We’ve been getting these for close to a year and she finally decided she wanted me to read them at story time. Sometimes she’ll peruse one at dinner if we’re doing a quiet mealtime, but it wasn’t until recently that she really wanted to look at them. The magazine has a few short stories, some puzzles, cartoons, poems, picture seeks, and a recipe at the end (plus more I’m sure I’m forgetting). Worth the $30+ a year I’d say!

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