Toddler Library: January


By Suzanne Taylor

One of the most overlooked aspects of becoming a parent is the creation of a library of good books. When I go to baby showers, as much as I love the cuteness of baby onesies, I much prefer giving a mother-to-be books to start her toddler library. I find I am usually the only one at the shower who thinks of that, and so the gift never gets returned and also garners a lot of “oohs and aahs” from the other moms—especially when it is something as fresh and classy as BabyLit®, but that will be for another post.

What should be in a your library? Every month, I’m going to pull from my list of favorites and add them to this column. I encourage you to comment with your own, so, by the end of the year, we’ll have a great little list of favorites to choose from.


In the spirit of Red Barn, Sandra Boynton’s rollicking Barnyard Dance is one of the most entertaining books to read to your baby. “With a BAA and a MOO and a COCKADOODLEDOO,” your child will LOVE the rhythm of the text and the illustrations of twirling pigs, fiddle-playing cows, and other farm animals. It’s a lively barnyard square dance that your baby will love listening to and might even get your baby dancing and prancing like the other animals. Even city babies will want to come to this square dance!


Another book high on my list of books has to be Goodnight Moon because I can still hear my now 17-year-old son Ryan’s little boy voice filling in my sentences as I would read, “and a little old lady whispering, hush” as he put his finger to his lips. This IS a classic, written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd more than 65 years ago. Its soothing text and pictures are a great way to end the day with your little one.


When I asked my boys what books they remember, the first one that came out of their mouths was the picture book classic, Blueberries for Sal. Why? Probably because I fell in love with Robert McCloskey’s art and stories when I was reading Make Way for Ducklings as a child and didn’t waste any time introducing them to this Caldecott Honor book. It is a fun story of a summer’s day in Maine (which to the parent sounds incredibly romantic) when a little girl and a bear cub wander away from their blueberry-picking mothers and each mistake the other’s mother for their own. McCloskey’s vintage black-and-white line art is so simple and powerful that it allows for a quiet backdrop for a tender story. Besides, it’s so fun to say the words, “kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk,” in describing the sound the blueberries make when they hit the inside of Sal’s tin pail. With clever-sounding text like this, it’s never too early to start reading longer texts to your toddlers.


  1. I totally agree. The one time I gave board books as a gift, everyone went nuts for them. I do have to add my favorite story to read to my nieces and nephews, “There’s a Monster at the End of this Book.” Probably not a great baby book, but the three to five-year-olds can’t read it enough.

    • Suzanne Taylor :

      Spoiler alert!! Yes, you beat me to this one because it is on my A-list. This is one I remember being read to me when I was young, so there is the enduring power of a great book. When I read it to my boys, I always used my best Grover voice! Viva La Grover!

  2. Ferdnand the Bull- I still love this book and I buy a copy whenever I see them and then gift them later.

    • Suzanne Taylor :

      Thanks for the reminder of this one, DeLaina. Who doesn’t love Robert Lawson’s illustrations–and red and black are two of my favorite book-cover colors. Not to mention a great story. Great gift idea!

  3. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Go Dog Go were two of the favorites at our house when we had little ones. They are fun to read aloud.

    • Suzanne Taylor :

      Favorite Go Dog Go line: “Do you like my hat? I do not like your hat. Now do you like my hat? I do, I do!!! And Chicka Chicka, you can’t go wrong with that one. Talk about doing a little dance with your kids as part of story time.

      • Michelle Branson :

        The dog party at the end of the book is the best. That is where you can find dogs of all colors and sizes – and have fun pointing them out. There is even a purple one!

  4. Thanks for the ideas, Suzanne! My favorite book when I was a child was Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb. I’ve wasted no time introducing my son to this one, and it is one of his favorites, too.

  5. My favorite is Barnyard Dance (for obvious reasons), but I also really enjoyed Smudge, the Little Lost Lamb. I also read Goodnight Moon to my kids all the time.

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