If you love alphabet books, CREATURE ABC is one of our favorites for toddlers, and it’s definitely worth tracking down from your bookseller or the library!Read More
This is one of the very best board books right here. We are in love, and The Watermelon Seed has been on heavy rotation in our house for years! Check it out and see why we think its a best book for one year old and best book for two year old kids!Read More
Monkey and Me is one of the best board books, and it was on repeat read in our house for years! This is one of the best books for two year old kids, namely because of its short, repetitive verses. Check it out!
There is nothing more exciting for a mom who loves to read than watching her child fall in love with books-- and then attempt to read them him or herself. Not all books are perfect for these emerging readers. Some are too lengthy, too wordy, or, simply put, too challenging. But then you come across a gem like Emily Gravett's Monkey and Me, and your heart overflows with joy as you watch your little one open a new world with the simple turn of a page. It is, hands down, one of the best board books out there! This is my pick for the newest Instagram bookclub, @kidlitpicks, which is highlighting favorite repeat reads this month.
The story is simple: a little girl and her stuffed monkey get downright silly as they imitate some much loved animals. They hop like kangaroos, hang upside down like bats, and swing about like monkeys. As the child's actions are depicted prior to the spreads illustrating the animals she mimics, a fun guessing game ensues as little ones attempt to figure out what animal will be featured on the next page.
Monkey and Me is one of the best board books that I find just brilliant in its simplicity. While Pickle is too young to actually "read" this book, the unadorned story and repetitive versus are perfect for boosting his confidence as an emerging reader. Sure, he essentially has the pages memorized, but that is what I love about it. That is where the magic happens. There is something so special about watching him pull this story out of a stack of books, climb onto his bed, and ask me to sit next to him so he can read to me. The fact that he truly believes he can read it makes him radiate joy and fall in love with the book. Repetition in story is so important for this reason - it instills such confidence in children! But perhaps more importantly, in addition to boosting confidence, repetition also provides the practice kids need to enhance new reading skills by strengthening connections in the brain that help children learn.
Monkey and Me is a treasure in our house for both Pickle and Bo alike. You can never go wrong with a book by Emily Gravett. She's a gift to the world of children's literature.
Want the book? Get it here! Monkey and Me, by Emily Gravett.
Interested in checking out our other favorite Emily Gravett book? Click HERE to read our blog post on Orange Pear Apple Bear.
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For the sole reason that this book elicited so many giggles from my boys, this will forever rank is one of the best board books in our house. We have no doubt your kids will love it too, and its a great concept book to add to your collection!Read More
Gossie is one of the very best board books, and it was a family favorite for years. There’s no doubt about it, this is one of the best books for one year old and best books for two year old kids! Check it out!Read More
When asked about the best board books, Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes is forever at the forefront of my mind. It is also a favorite when it comes to diverse books for toddlers. Why? Check it out!Read More
If you have a toddler and you don't yet have any Pete the Cat books, it's time you remedy this now. Our absolute favorite of this entertaining series is I Love My White Shoes. We must have read this story a hundred times a week when Pickle was learning his colors.
In this engaging read, Pete the Cat goes walking down the street in his brand new white shoes. As he prances around, singing to the world how much he loves his kicks, he steps into various messes, each of which dirty his sneakers. The shoes turn from white to red to blue to brown- and all the while Pete maintains a great attitude, keeps on grooving, and continues to sing his great song.
I mean, nothing can beat making up a melody and getting goofy and musical with a story book. Even better? Getting goofy, getting musical, and learning as we read. Early on, I fully thought Pickle was color blind like his dad, but thanks to Pete the Cat, Pickle learned his colors quickly and with no issue! To top it off, this story, with its vibrant illustrations and it's witty text, teaches kids to take accidents in stride and never let them get you down. After all, as Pete the Cat teaches, things may not always go according to plan, but not to worry: it's all good. This is a fun story guaranteed to delight your little ones, and one that they will be begging you to read over and over again. And take note- I can all but guarantee that everyone you hear read this book aloud will sing the song with a very different tune-- which makes it even better. We love Pete!
Inside: Looking for a phenomenal story to help kids cope with separation anxiety? THE KISSING HAND is the book for you. Check it out!
*This post contains affiliate links.
Separation anxiety is tough for any parent.
Whether it’s dropping a child off at school, leaving a kiddo with a babysitter, or trying to peel your kid off your leg when you’re saying goodbye at a playdate, it is not easy for them to let go.
Enter THE KISSING HAND, an oh-so-fabulous book, and one of my favorites to help kids cope with goodbyes — not to mention a mother's unwavering love for her child.
In THE KISSING HAND, one small raccoon is nervous to start school. Why? He doesn’t want to leave his mom, of course. Sound familiar?
Chester also only wants to do those things with which he is already comfortable— play with his old friends, read his own books and swing on his own swing. How will he get over his nerves?
Leave it to Mom, of course. Mrs. Raccoon has a long-held secret up her sleeve, and she teaches a frightened Chester about the “Kissing Hand.” She spreads Chester’s fingers into a fan, kisses the middle of his palm, and has him touch that same palm to his face as he recites some simple words:
“Mommy loves you.”
With his kissing hand as his side, Chester calms down. He now knows that he has nothing to fear!
School may be scary at first, and it may not be easy to leave his mom, but whenever he feels himself getting anxious, he can always touch his paw to his face and remember that mom is always with him, even if she isn’t sitting right beside him in his classroom.
The result? One little raccoon heads off to school with confidence and courage — and even gives mom a present of her own.
OK — so let me be honest for a moment.
I first read THE KISSING HAND long before I had kids, and it didn't really resonate with me. It was an undeniably sweet story, but it just wasn't one of the books that thrilled me during my writing studies.
But now, post kids?
THE KISSING HAND has made several of our “best of” children’s book lists!
Fast forward several years, and now I'm a mom of two boys. And if there is one thing I've learned about children's literature after becoming a parent, it's that the types of books I love are constantly evolving — because sometimes, I fall in love with a book after I see the effect it has on my own kids.
This is exactly what happened with THE KISSING HAND.
Not only do my kids also love it, but THE KISSING HAND has ended up on so many of Happily Ever Elephants children’s book lists, including books for kids with anxiety, children’s books about divorce, children’s books about courage, first day of school books, and children’s books about moms.
THE KISSING HAND instills comfort in both parents and children alike
As a parent-reader, I found myself in Mrs. Raccoon's actions (I know that sounds kind of funny, but its totally true!!)
I was struck by the notion of doing anything in your power — making up any game, trick or story — to instill a sense of confidence in your child and to ensure your little one knows you are always with him, even when you are not physically present. It was comforting to me to find my own desire to protect and help my children reflected back to me, and I loved learning a new a tool to help my kids through troubling situations.
As a child reader — well, let’s just say that my boys thinks THE KISSING HAND is the best book ever. We have used our kissing hands so many times —particularly at school drop off — and it instills such comfort and reassurance in both of my kiddos.
THE KISSING HAND is a beautiful, gentle story, with a timeless message that will no doubt be incorporated into your daily lives. We hope you love it as much as we do.
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This is one of the best board books about the concept of paying it forward - that when we take care of our friends, that joy will come back to us tenfold. We love Hooray for Hat, and due to its repeating verses, we think this is one of the best books for two year olds.Read More
Is there anyone with a baby who doesn't have Sandra Boynton's Moo Ba La La La in the nursery? Is there any parent who has this book that cannot recite it by memory alone? We love this book, as you may be able to tell from its totally chewed up status in the picture. It has been treasured in our house for three years now, as first Pickle and then Bo have been infatuated with its vibrant colors, infectious rhymes, and goofy illustrations.
You can use this book to enhance speech and language development in so many ways. First, animal sounds! As I said in an earlier post, getting kids to mimic animal noises is a great way to enhance language development in very young children. Animal sounds (moo, baa, neigh) simply combine one consonant with one vowel, making them easy to say and repeat. Second, predictability! Kids love when they are able to fill in words and sounds as they read. This story provides the perfect opportunity to allow kids to fill in the animal sounds after you cue them with the first few words on the page. Third- phonological awareness! This book is terrific for helping little ones understand that language is made up of various different sound units. Fourth- a parting question! I love how this ends by asking children "what do you say?" This is such a fun way to engage your tiny readers. If your child is not yet verbal, you can give him prompts- do we say moo? Do we say baa? Do we say night night? If your little one is verbal, let him answer however he sees fit- and make sure to write down his sweet responses because I can all but guarantee you will want to remember them later.
Moo Ba La La La is downright fun, and I give it so much credit for helping my boys fall in love with reading at a young age. Any book that gets dragged across the room by a crawling baby and handed to you like a glorious gift, only to be followed up by said baby's uncanny ability to maneuver himself into your lap while you are undoubtedly attempting to do a million things at once-- well, that's what it's all about. That's what I love. And that, for us, was this book for so many years. Thank you, Sandra Boynton.
Want the book? Get it here! Moo, Ba, La, La, La!, by Sandra Boynton. *This is an affiliate link.
Emily Gravett's sweet board book is such a special one to have in your home. This book contains only five words- orange, pear, apple, bear and there - yet, despite the minimal text, Gravett manages to create a wholly endearing read about a humorous bear by brilliantly rearranging the words and the punctuation.
Gravett's combinations result in whimsical watercolor illustrations depicting the bear juggling, balancing and, eventually, eating all of the fruit. By manipulating both the placement of the words and the punctuation used, Gravett deftly demonstrates how the meaning of a word can be significantly altered based upon the context in which it is used. Even better, though the illustrations are simple and the text sparse, the book nonetheless manages to introduce children to the concepts of color, shape, rhyme and even language and writing.
We love this book in our house. Bo, at only 18 months, turns the pages and repeatedly says the words "orange bear," then looks at me with a grin. Pickle, at 3, loves to analyze the pictures and figure out which word combo is illustrated. We never go wrong when we pull this off the shelf (although, let's be honest, it's usually on the floor because Bo drags it all over the house!) and I just adore the way it helps my boys unlock their imagination. Perfect- a must have for your kids' bookshelves!
Want the book? Get it here! Orange Pear Apple Bear, by Emily Gravett. *This is an affiliate link.
My bike!! This is a new favorite board book that I love to read with Bo, and I'm already excited to get the other books in this great little series.
Perfect for infants and two year olds alike, My Bike, by Byron Barton, begins with an introduction to the different parts of the bicycle. The reader then follows Tom, the cyclist, as he bikes through town before coming to his place of employment: the circus. As he rides through the busy streets, we see not just buses and trucks and cars, but monkeys and lions and tigers as well. We then watch as Tom arrives at the circus, puts on his face paint and transforms into a clown, ready to entertain the crowd.
This new release is a total gem. The bright, full spread illustrations are lively and chock full of fun elements to discover, and the minimal text and simple sentences make this a perfect fit for toddlers beginning to find their voices. You can imitate the sounds made by all of the different animals and vehicles as you read, and it would even be a fun fit for little ones just beginning to read on their own. You definitely can't go wrong with My Bike, and I have a feeling it's going to be on heavy rotation in our house over the coming months. We love new board books for the little ones! What are your favorite books about vehicles? Let us know!
Want the book? Get it here! My Bike, by Byron Barton. *This is an affiliate link.
I assume you all know about this wonderful series of books by Laura Numeroff, and it's not hard to figure out why. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it: they are fantastic, complete with both humor and tools to stimulate problem solving in our kids. As you know, this story begins with a little boy who gives a mouse he finds outside of his house a cookie. This sets off a sequence of events, as once the mouse gets a cookie, he needs a glass of milk, and once he gets the milk, he needs a straw, and then a napkin and then a mirror and so on. The text is rhythmic and fun to read, and the story is circular, ending right where it first started.
This book is fantastic for teaching kids about cause and effect: how one action can create a chain reaction and set off a string of responsive events. Children wait with anticipation to see what the mouse will need next, and as they get more familiar with the story, they love to fill in the words as they are able to "predict" the mouse's every desire. The book is also fantastic for getting children to memorize large chunks of text. Finally, though the narrative is simple, the illustrations enhance the story and take the reader well beyond the text, creating adorable (and funny!) scenes where the mouse is depicted as the king of the story and an exhausted little boy struggles to keep up with his every demand.
The "Cookie Book," as Pickle calls it, is a worn and often read story in our house, and if you don't have any of these books in your own homes, get them soon. I can almost guarantee they will become your family favorites as well.
Want the book? Get it here! If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Numeroff. *This is an affiliate link.
Never underestimate the power of the words "I think I can, I think I can." We have the abridged version of The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper in our house, and let me tell you, both Pickle and Bo love it, and it's one of my favorite books to read to them. We all know the story- a little blue engine is asked by a broken-down train full of dolls and toys to help pull it over the mountain. The little blue engine doubts herself at first as she has never gone over the mountain, but she tells herself she can do it, and she succeeds.
This is such a simple story, but it imparts one of the most profound lessons we can teach our kids. Four words - "I think I can" can be a life changing mantra for even the youngest of children, and there is no better way to illustrate the concept of believing in yourself than with this book. If you don't have this on your shelf because it's old and maybe not as "exciting" as some new, more modern releases, get online and order it now. Though there are so many books that teach kids what it means to persevere, this timeless story just knocks them all out of the park. Every single time.
Want the book? Get it here! The Little Engine that Could, by Watty Piper. *This is an affiliate link.
We got Shhh! This Book is Sleeping by Cedric Ramadier in the mail today. It lived up to a friend's recommendation, and it was a perfect way to finish off our bedtime stories tonight.
What I loved most about this simple and quick read is that it gave my three year old power in a situation where I know he often feels powerless. It is a rare child that likes to be told to brush his teeth, go to the bathroom one last time, and get into bed. But this book allows the kids to be the "boss." It enables the reader to make sure the book has completed its bedtime routine, that it is warm enough, and that it gets a good hug and kiss before turning out the light. Pickle was so loving to the book, it was pretty hilarious. He totally delighted in watching the book get sleepier and sleepier, and he was grinning as he put the book down ever so gently on his bed so as not to wake it. He was a perfect age for this sweet little story, and I have a feeling he is going to want to tuck this book in next to him for quite a while. We loved it!
Want the book? Get it here! Shhh! This Book is Sleeping, by Cedric Ramadier. *This is an affiliate link.
Excavators, front loaders, motor graders, oh my! Calling all parents of kids who love trucks! Everyone's favorite childhood song, Old MacDonald had a Farm, gets a fresh twist in this hot-off-the-presses picture book, Old MacDonald Had a Truck, by Steve Goetz.
In this adorable, sing-sing book, the animals are driving construction equipment and working on a farm at the direction of Old MacDonald and his trusty sidekick. The illustrations are lively and the book will have you and your child singing some new lyrics - such as "E-I-E-I-HOE!" - for hours on end. This book has been on a steady rotation in our house since we got it last week, and Pickle delights at this new spin on one of his favorite tunes. If your little one is a fan of Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site, Where Do Diggers Sleep at Night and The Little Blue Truck, this is a must-add to your truck-loving child's collection.
Want the book? Get it here! Old MacDonald Had a Truck, by Steve Goetz. *This is an affiliate link.
If you have a rambunctious little one at home and you don't have No, David! by David Shannon on your book shelf, you've got to get it now! This was a Caldecott Honor book years back which is no surprise because this book is all about the vibrant and hilarious illustrations. Each picture features a mischievous David engaging in a different act which prompts his mom to scold him, but the story ends with mom enfolding David in a great big hug. The thing I love about this book is that the text is sparse and the illustrations are therefore highly narrative (not to mention hilarious). This means the reader can vocalize what is happening on each page and make the story his own. Because the book essentially requires oral responses from the reader, it helps children develop linguistic and storytelling skills, making this read a perfect pre-literacy activity. We love No, David! and it is a staple in our library!
Want the book? Get it here! No, David!, by David Shannon. *This is an affiliate link.
If you are looking for the best board book ever, you MUST take a look at CAPS FOR SALE, an old classic, that was on reread in our house for years. Check it out!
CAPS FOR SALE is hands down one of the very best board books for toddlers!
There are some books that simply stand the test of time and, sometimes, we read them and we wonder why? What is it about THIS book that has such long lasting appeal, more than so many others? Why is this one of the best board books, one that has become such a classic?
This is how I felt about CAPS FOR SALE, by Esphyr Slobodkina, until I first read it with my own child and it became the most sought after book in our house.
I'll admit that when Pickle first got this book as a gift, I wasn't inclined to pick it up.
Let's be honest- I totally judged the book by its cover. The illustration on the front did not excite me, it was old, and it wasn't by any of my favorite picture book authors - or one I had ever even heard of before!
But then Pickle pulled CAPS FOR SALE off the shelf one night at bedtime, when he was deciding which three books he wanted me to read to him. Together, we opened it up.
… and then I experienced first hand why CAPS FOR SALE is one of the best board books for little ones.
We read the first page, and then the next one and then the next one, until the story about a peddler selling caps in the countryside came to a close, and Pickle immediately put it back in my hands and said "again, mama!"
So we read CAPS FOR SALE again, and this time, Pickle laughed as I acted out the scenes from the pages -- when I looked left and right and behind the tree for the missing caps, and when I shook my finger and "tsz tsz tszed" at the monkeys that stole them. When Pickle asked me to read it yet again, he acted out the story with me.
It's been a good year since we read CAPS FOR SALE for the first time, and it remains the BEST board book to act out together at bedtime. Maybe that's why it has stood the test of time- because the story is simple yet complex in the lessons it imparts, and it is simply so much fun to get silly with the text. Whatever the reason may be, one thing is for certain: this classic, originally published in 1940, is a definite keeper.
If you haven’t yet experienced the magic of CAPS FOR SALE, do yourself a favor and grab it now!
HAPPY READING! Hope you give these books Two Trunks Up as well!
Did you like our guide to the best board books? We are so glad! Check out these fantastic posts - we think you will love them too!
Want the book? Get it here! Caps for Sale, by Esphyr Slobodkina. *This is an affiliate link.