Jenny's Library

Booklist: Literary Gifts for Little Ones

Posted on: October 30, 2013

Giftmas is almost here!

Well, ok, it’s still a few months away.  But I thought now would be a good time to start posting suggestions for books to buy for the kids in your life this Giftmas.  Or any other gift giving celebration throughout the year.

This week – gifts for toddlers!  (and sometimes babies too)

I know I know, what toddler wants a book for Giftmas instead of a toy?  But remember that for very young children, everything is a toy.  Also, regular sized board books cost as much or less than mass market paperbacks, so they can also be a good extra gift to give in addition to the toy you already picked out.

Books You Will Probably Need to Order

If you are doing your shopping early enough, I suggest ordering one of the books below. You’re less likely to duplicate someone else’s gift and more likely to impress the parents.   Also, they’re awesome books.

cover image for Moo Cowcover image for Puppy Bookcover image for Piggy Book

inside page for Moo Cowinside page of Puppy Bookinside page for Piggy Book

Moo Cow Book, My Piggy Book, My Puppy Book by Sandra Boynton

These are more expensive than most books for babies (about $15 rather than $4-$8) but that’s because they’re cloth, which makes them perfect for the littlest ones on your list.  They’re also adorable and full of all kinds of textures, which babies love.

cover image for Gossiecover image for Gossie and Gertie

Gossie, Gossie and Gertie by Olivier Dunrea

Some of my favorite stories for toddlers ever, in board book form.

cover image for Hide and Seekcover image for Wigglecover image for Peekaboo!

Hide and Seek, Wiggle, Peekaboo! by Tarō Gomi

Yes, the author of Everyone Poops has a new(-ish) set of board books out.  So cute!

cover image for You Are My CupcakeWe Belong Together

You Are My Cupcake, We Belong Together by Joyce Wan

Joyce Wan has only two board books out (and a couple of other picture books for older kids), but she’s already one of my favorite authors for toddlers.  Her books are clever, sweet, and bright – without resorting to primary colors.

cover image for Everyone Eatsinside pages for Everyone Eats

Everyone Eats by Julia Kuo

With this single title Julia Kuo has joined my list of “female children’s book authors/illustrators to watch/who deserve more attention.”  It’s superbly done – readable, endearing, and the ending will make you smile.

Books That Should Be In Stock

I can’t promise that these books will be in stock at your local bookstore, but I can tell you that they usually were in stock around Giftmas time at the bookstore I worked at for several years.

cover image for Tailsinside pages for Tails

Tails by Matthew Van Fleet

One of the more expensive books on this list, but it’s also one of the few pop up books that are sturdy enough for toddlers.  If it’s too pricey, Van Fleet has a few smaller ones that should be cheaper, but they may not be in stock in most brick and mortar stores.

cover image for Gallop!cover image for Waddlecover image for Star Wars

Gallop, Waddle, Star Wars Scanimation Books by Rufus Butler Seder

Another gimmick book (the images move as you turn the pages) and also more expensive than the normal book for kids this age, but any of these will delight and intrigue toddlers.  And their parents.

cover image for Dear Zooinsider pages for Dear Zoo

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

This is such a wonderful book for toddlers.  It has everything that’s best for toddlers: readable pictures, flaps, animals, pattern sentences, great vocabulary building language, and plenty of humor.

cover image for The Very Hungry Caterpillarinside pages for The Very Hungry Caterpillar

cover image for The Very Busy Spiderinside pages for The Very Busy Spider

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle

Yes, I know everyone knows about Eric Carle – but these stories are especially good as board books for toddlers because they are so tactile.  The Very Hungry Caterpillar has the little holes and different sized pages, of course, while the webs in The Very Busy Spider are slightly raised and will delight little fingers.

cover image for ABC Zooborns

ABC Zooborns! by Andrew Bleiman

Yes, there is a ZooBorns board book. You’re welcome for bringing this to your attention.

anything by Sandra Boynton

If all else fails, grab the first Sandra Boynton book (or box set) that catch(es) your eye, and make sure to include a gift receipt. :p

Going Above and Beyond: Flannel Stories

If you really want to give a toddler a present that is both memorable and educational, buy or make them a flannel story.

(You will, of course, need to be careful of the size and sturdiness of the pieces, depending on the age of the child the story is for.)

You can buy them from stores like Lakeshore Learning (The Napping House is good choice for toddlers) for about $30 or so, or on etsy for the same price or cheaper – I found several flannel stories for The Very Hungry Caterpillar on sale on easy quickly and easily.  (Keep in mind you may also want to buy the book, and the flannel stories usually don’t come with a copy.)

The Napping House felt storyThe Very Hunger Caterpillar felt story

(The Very Hungry Caterpillar felt story above was designed and made by Cake In the Morn)

If that sounds expensive, remember that you can always make one yourself! Michael’s sells letter sized sheets of craft flannel for less than a dollar each.  Depending on the story, you may only need a few sheets.

Stories about counting, colors, or other basic concepts often make good flannel stories.  And especially for counting stories (such as nursery rhymes like Five Little Monkeys), you can usually get away with making just one pattern and cutting out several copies of that same pattern.  Stories that have bright graphics and/or are about things that go (such as Freight Train) are also easy-ish to copy.

Five Kites felt storyFreight Train felt story

(The Five Little Kites felt story above and left was designed and made by Fun Felt Stories)

(The Freight Train felt story above and right was designed and made by Felt Resources)

If you’re feeling more ambitious, cumulative tales (There Was An Old Lady, The House That Jack Built, Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain) and pattern books (Are You My Mother? Brown Bear Brown Bear, Dear Zoo) usually make good stories for children to retell on their own with flannel pieces.

You can buy the toddler a flannel board or not; they should be able to play with the pieces on a blanket.  If you do decide to make/buy a flannel board to go with the story you bought/made, I suggest one that rolls up like these I found on etsy.  The stands you see in school supply stores are usually meant for librarians and teachers and can be heavy and sharp.

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