Monday, March 04, 2013

From the archives: Books for tots

First posted January 2011.

The Deputy Headmistress wants to know what your favourite toddler/preschooler books are.

We do have an (old) copy of Honey for a Child's Heart, but my go-to book when The Apprentice was small was Dorothy Butler's Babies Need Books. I also got ideas of what-to-read-when from Dorothy White's Books Before Five, a diary she kept about her own little girl's first book experiences, and Marguerite Kelly's Mother's Almanac. Now back in that Stone Age of finding used books (when Abebooks wasn't an option), we at least had a dial-in to the public library so that I could reserve books, and there was a weekly Bookmobile that brought them all, to be carried home in the stroller. So a lot of the Apprentice's early books were borrowed. And borrowed. And borrowed again.
But I did start looking at used bookshops, too, and thrift shops, and library sales. And we started building up a collection. We discovered Brian Wildsmith, John Burningham, and Dick Bruna, just from the first page of "Books to Use in the First Year." Should I keep going? Helen Oxenbury, Pat Hutchins, Marie Hall Ets, Eve Rice, Eric Carle, Peter Spier, Erik Blegvad, Aliki...The Tall Book of Mother Goose, several of the Beatrix Potter books (we started with Miss Moppet and Appley Dappley when The Apprentice was two), and poetry from a book called Sunflakes (that was one we didn't find in Butler's book).

We borrowed or dug up copies of But Where Is the Green Parrot?, Sam Who Never Forgets, Lois Lenski's Davy books, Drummer Hoff, The Circus Baby, The Chick and the Duckling, Paul Galdone's fairy tale books, Shirley Hughes' Alfie books, Harry the Dirty Dog, the Jeanne Marie books, The Tiger Who Came to Tea, May I Bring a Friend?, Carl-the-babysitting-dog wordless books, The Mitten, and Teddy Jam's Night Cars. (Most of those are listed in Butler's book, a few aren't.)

We also bought several issues of Ladybug Magazine (and a couple of Babybugs when it began, though Babybug was a bit pricey for us), read A Child's Garden of Verses, Pooh stories, The Little Engine That Could, Little Fur Family and bought one Bible story book (had to special-order that one, along with the Mother Goose). We read books about Babar and Frances the badger. We read Christmas picture books.
And we're only about up to age two-rising-three in Babies Need Books. BNB did us well until The Apprentice was about five or six, just about the time that Ponytails was coming along. Dorothy Butler wrote a sequel, Five to Eight, which, like the first, had the problem for us, even then, of being both slightly out of date and having a lot of British titles*--a lot of what you see is not going to be on the shelf at the chain bookstore. But that doesn't mean the books listed aren't keepers, just that you have to look for them a bit harder.
Some books got torn and worn over the years...some got taped back together, some were unsalvageable.  Every so often I see a copy of something we had only from the library, or something that was lost, and pick up another copy, even though our youngest is now in fourth sixth grade.
Because there will always be someone else to read them to.

*Both the Dorothys were from New Zealand.

1 comment:

Haley said...

Lists of favorite picture books are among my very favorite things, so this was great fun to read! You mentioned several titles I don't yet know, so I'm adding them to my library list. Thanks!

The beginnings of my own list of favorites is here:

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