toddler book review
About a year ago, we did a couple of posts on Munchkin’s favorite baby books. There are a handful of those early board books that still hold his interest, but by and large he has moved on to more advanced toddler literature. S’s mom had saved the books from her childhood, and we have incorporated a few of the classics S loved as a kid into Munchkin’s book collection. We also stocked up on Russian-language books before leaving Chisinau, though these have been less popular with our young, avid reader.
Though he does not always sit still, Munchkin really does love books. We read to him as a matter of course throughout the day, and S makes sure to have story time before bedtime. Sometimes, we have a difficult time getting him into his crib because he just wants to keep reading. As soon as S finishes one book, Munchkin says, “the end,” and hops down to bring her another one. Of the various sleep-related challenges we have encountered, this one at least is a good problem to have.
Some things haven’t changed — Munchkin is still very particular about what stories he wants to hear and will sometimes insist on reading the same book over and over again. Now that he is older, however, story time has become a lot more participatory. He completes sentences, imitates the noises we make to accompany his stories, and not only laughs a lot, but also tells us when something in his books is funny. It’s kind of amazing that he understands humor at under two years of age.
We faced some difficult choices when we packed out from Chisinau, bringing only a fraction of our baby book collection while shipping the rest directly to Kigali. Of the books that made it to Washington, Munchkin’s current favorites are:
Good Families Don’t (Robert Munsch) — This is a quirky story about a prim and proper Canadian family terrorized by a fart. “Good Canadians don’t have farts; what would the Americans say?” Munsch was S’s favorite author growing up, but her favorite book of his — Something Good — is still a tad too long for Munchkin.
Underwear (Mary Elise Monsell) — This book is written for ages 3-7. Even though it is quite long, Munchkin sits through the whole story, which features Bismark the grumpy buffalo and his pals Zachary Zebra and Orfo the Orangutan. While Bismark mopes, the other animals put on colorful underwear and goof off. Eventually, the zebra dares Bismark to say the word ‘underwear’ ten times and hilarity ensues, helping end the buffalo’s doldrums. Munchkin cracks up every single time.
Cars And Trucks And Things That Go (Richard Scarry) — We have two iterations of this book: the full-size edition, based on the original that was first published in the 1950s, and another, condensed version. The full-size edition is fantastic, especially for a little man like Munchkin who is obsessed with all things that go. Not only is the book chock-full of illustrations of different kinds of cars, trucks, and buses, but it also features all sorts of made-up vehicles, including a broom-o-cycle, a five-seater pencil car, an auto-plane, and an alligator mobile, to name just a few.
The Snowy Day (Ezra Jack Keats) — Another well-loved classic from S’s childhood library. Her favorite part is watching Munchkin smack his head and say, “Plop!” when the snow falls on the protagonist’s head.
A Color Of His Own (Leo Lionni) — One of two colorful books in our collection that feature a chameleon. The other is The Mixed-Up Chameleon by Eric Carle. Both are great because we’ve just started trying to teach Munchkin the names for the various colors. The Lionni book is simple, but colorful, and has a nice moral too.
Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus (Mo Williams) — The Cat The Cat book Munchkin had as a baby was so inane that it forever soured D on Mo Williams. This one is only slightly better, but clearly Williams is more concerned with appealing to his young readers than their parents. His books are insanely popular, and Munchkin can’t seem to get enough of this one, chiming in with “Please!” “No?!” and “C’mon!” whenever S reads it to him.
The Wheels On The Bus — Adapted and beautifully illustrated by Paul Zelinsky, this edition has movable parts to go along with the popular and well-known children’s song. Munchkin will spend hours reading it to himself, chanting all the refrains — “wa-di-wa” (“for round-and-round”), “swish, swish,” “open-shut,” and our personal favorite, “moo-ga-baa, moo-ga-baa” (for “move on back.”)
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site (Sherri Duskey Rinker) — This book has replaced the Sandra Boynton books as Munchkin’s going-to-bed book. It is a board book with sound effects, chronicling the long, hard day of a bunch of construction vehicles, who are getting ready to tuck in for the night. If you’ve ever wondered what a tired, yawning cement mixer sounds like, this book has the answer.
Planes, Cars, Trucks, and Trains — This is a FisherPrice LittlePeople lift-the-flap book whose subject matter should be fairly obvious from the title. Given how keen Munchkin is on all things that go, its appeal should be fairly obvious as well. This book has expanded Munchkin’s vocabulary in an unexpected direction. Among the words he picked up from it are “boppy” (for “bi-plane”) and “ha-ka-pish” (for “helicopter”).