Reading Toddler L’s Favourite Children’s Books

It’s widely accepted that reading to your kid is pretty bloody awesome. Not only does it allow you to spend quality time together, but it can help with things like their vocabulary, literacy, concentration, understanding and imagination. This, in turn, can increase their chances of success in the future.

Out of interest – and also procrastination – I had a quick Google to see what evidence there was about the benefits of reading to kids. There’s loads of studies and I’m not going to bore you with the details, but I thought I’d mention a couple that jumped out at me:

  • Research by The Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research showed that reading to children six to seven days a week puts them almost a year ahead of those who are not being read to.
  • Results from the Institute of Education showed that those who read for pleasure regularly at age 10 scored higher in vocabulary tests than those who didn’t.
  • study by the American Academy of Pediatrics which used MRI scans found that early reading impacts the parts of the brain that are fundamental for developing literacy early on.
  • Findings from Harvard University showed that it’s actually better for children’s language development if dads, not mums, read stories because of the tendency of dads to create imaginative discussions through their questions.

All positive stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Books have always been part of my life. I remember regular library visits with my mum when I was at primary school, always having a book on the go as a teenager and reading as I commuted to work. Unfortunately, life has kind of got in the way over the last few years so I rarely read these days – well, apart from children’s books.

As the missus and I used to read quite a lot when we were kids, we’ve always been keen to pass the enjoyment of reading on to Toddler L. From the start, we’ve tried to read to her as part of a ‘bath, book, bed’ routine, but she usually preferred to cry rather than look at the pretty pictures, so we soon gave up on this. Similarly, when we tried to read to her during the day, sometimes she’d be happy, other times she wouldn’t. Still, we managed to amass quite a decent collection of books through things like the Routes To Reading Baby Bookshop which I’d reviewed previously.

But, the last six months or so have seen Toddler L actively wanting to read. Pretty much every day, she’ll open up the boxes which store her books, bring one over to me and sit on my knee as I read to her. Once the book is finished, she’ll climb down, get another book and come over again. Her record – or should that be mine – is nine different books in a row before I’ve called a premature end to her fun. I know, bad dad.

So, with her new found love for books growing by the day – as I write this, I’m having two books thrust into my face – I thought I’d share seven of Toddler L’s favourite books at 22.5 months old. These are the ones which she tends to pick on a daily basis for us to read:

My Mum & My Dad by Anthony Browne

A warm, funny tribute to Mum (and to mums everywhere) by the brilliant author/illustrator Anthony Browne.

A warm, hilarious, witty and very personal tribute to Dad (and to dads everywhere) by the ever-brilliant and inventive Anthony Browne.

Reading with a toddler my dad my mum

My Mum and My Dad are two separate books, but are part of the same series from Anthony Browne. The missus bought me the dad version for Father’s Day last year, then I did similar for Mother’s Day this year – original, I know! Toddler L really loves these books and I have a proper soft spot for them too – they are cute, heart-warming, funny and celebrate mums and dads through the eyes of their kids.

I’ve found that most mum or dad books conform to stereotypes about what a mum or dad should be, but this book doesn’t do that. Through bold, colourful illustrations and minimal text, the books show things like mum being a film star and the big boss or dad being as soft as a teddy and a brilliant singer. The best thing about the books is that they end with a hug, which means I always get one from Toddler L – bonus! Really, really great books and two I’d definitely recommend.


Spot’s First Easter by Eric Hill

Spot goes on an exciting Easter hunt in this seasonal lift-the-flap tale by Eric Hill. The classic Spot story re-originated with special cover finishes and rescanned artwork.

Reading with a toddler spots first easter

Although technically an Easter book, we’re rule breakers in The DADventurer household so we read this book whenever. I know, bad boy for life. Toddler L’s Nana bought this for her last Easter and it has remained a favourite since.

The board book follows Spot and Helen as they try to find all of the chocolate eggs that the Easter Bunny has hidden around the garden and house. It also includes lift up flaps which reveal whether they’ve managed to find the goodies that they’ve been searching for. Actually, let me clarify – the book *should* contain flaps that are lifted up, however the sprog has decided to rip out the majority of these over time! A fun little book which would make a nice alternative to chocolate at Easter.

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

Rod Campbell’s classic lift-the-flap book Dear Zoo has been a firm favourite with toddlers and parents alike ever since it was first published in 1982. Young children will love lifting the flaps to discover the animals the zoo has sent – a monkey, a lion and even an elephant! But will they ever manage to send the perfect pet? With bright, bold artwork, a catchy refrain and a whole host of favourite animals, Dear Zoo is a must for every child’s bookshelf – and the thick card pages, chunky cased cover and sturdy flaps make it perfect for small hands.

Reading with a toddler dear zoo

Despite being around since the early 1980’s, I hadn’t read this book before. The missus remembers having it – and enjoying it – when she was a kid though, so Toddler L’s Nana bought it for her as a present – that’s a present for Toddler L, not Hayley.

As the sprog is a huge fan of animals, this book was always going to go down well. The story is pretty simple – a kid has written to the zoo for a pet and they send back various animals hidden beneath lift up flaps. I’m not going to get into the practicalities or legalities around zoos sending people endangered animals, but if you can look passed this major plot hole, then it’s a nice, interactive book that any toddler is going to love.

Play And Learn ABC by Roger Priddy

A highly interactive board book introducing letters which provides stimulating early learning fun for little ones. With tabs to the page edges and a different interactive novelty on each spread, there’s so much to explore – sliding doors, touch-and-feel textures, flaps to lift, stencils and holographic foil! This is an ideal first book for encouraging the development of first letter skills in a fun play environment.

Reading with a toddler play and learn ABC

This board book was a present for Toddler L at Christmas and has become a firm favourite since then. It contains loads of different things to help with your child’s development. It is based around the alphabet, with different objects / animals / actions used for every letter. Furthermore, it includes additional sensory stuff like touch and feel, lift up flaps and sliding doors making it a really interactive book.

Since reading the book, I’ve noticed Toddler L’s vocab and understanding getting better. Obviously it’s not just down to this book, but the fact that she now recognises and reacts – a noise, action or actual word – to most of the things in the book demonstrates how good it is.

Hot Dog Cold Dog by Frann Preston-Gannon

Simple rhyming text and boldly graphic, funny illustrations show off the comically lovable proportions of the dachshund, with its short legs and long body, spirited nature and cheerful temperament. Author Frann Preston Gannon reveals a surprising variety of ‘hot dog’ looks and shows kids all the fun these little dogs have as they visit the beach, cavort in the snow, dig in the garden, jump to the ceiling and even ride a skateboard – all the while giving a lesson in opposites.

Reading with a toddler hot dog cold dog

As a sausage dog owner, you find that there’s a lot of hype and love for the weird looking beasts. You also find that you’re bought a lot of sausage dog related stuff. One of the best Dachshund things Toddler L has received is the Hot Dog Cold Dog book, which my bro got her for Christmas.

This features loads of different sausage dogs doing varied activities like playing hide and seek or riding a unicycle – I’m pretty sure it’s not an accurate representation of Dax’s life. There is minimal text, but it follows a catchy rhythm, with each page rhyming. It also has quirky, colourful illustrations which help to bring the book to life. A must buy book for the sausage dog owner or enthusiast (and their kids).

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

A much-loved classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar has won over millions of readers with its vivid and colourful collage illustrations and its deceptively simply, hopeful story. With its die-cut pages and finger-sized holes to explore, this is a richly satisfying book for children.

Reading with a toddler the very hungry caterpillar

It’s no surprise to see this book on the reading list. Much like crawling, walking and talking, reading the story about a plucky little caterpillar who gets fat and then miraculously transforms his body – probably through cosmetic surgery – is a rite of passage for any kid.

Featuring colourful illustrations and simple sentences, the book cleverly incorporates pages of different sizes and holes where the caterpillar has chomped his way through the various foods. A must-read and must-own book, the very hungry caterpillar will be a favourite for years.

So those are the books that Toddler L enjoys reading at the moment. A few classics in there, but hopefully a couple of other books that you might not of heard about before. Do you read with your children? What are their favourite books? Any recommendations of other books for toddlers we should look at getting? Let me know below?

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