Grandparents: Top 10 books for 2-3 year old

Book Monster is sharing our toddler tested & favorite books. Just click on the title or author to pick up your copy at Amazon.

1. Goodnight Gorilla, by Peggy Rathmann

2. First the Egg, by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

3. Dear Zoo, by Rod Campbell

4. What do you do with a tail like this? by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

5. Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd

6. The Belly Button Book, and The Going to Bed Book, by Sandra Boynton

7. Colors board books set, by Metropolitan Museum of Art

8.  Olivia, by Ian Falconer

9.   Mrs. Wishy Washy’s Farm,

10.   Giles Andreae &David Wojtowycz

Rumble in the Jungle

Giraffes Can’t Dance


Why picture books are so important

In the New York Times I recently read this articlePicture Books No Longer a Staple for Children. This article is scary and sad because the power of the picture books is being lost.  To me a picture book is what mac and cheese is to my grandschildren, comfort food. Every time you read a picture book it is fun, exciting, and it provides an opportunity to snuggle close or plop in a lap to share an adventure. The power of sharing the illustrations, making predictions, connecting it to your child’s life are all skills that good readers exhibit. While snuggled or cuddled on a lap you have the opportunity to model and provide a foundation for these skills in an fun and exciting manner.  This is how young children learn language and expand their vocabulary.  Have you noticed how little children will use phrases from their favorites stories? One of my grandson did just the last week, with a twinkle in his eye, he repeated phrases from a book we had recently read together. Not only was he transferring the language, but we had a special connection that came from the book, and lots of laughter.  I have also found that engaging the children with the story is allows them to begin to have an understanding with the connection between what is said with the print on the page. As you reread your child’s favorite stories–stop and just wait a second—you will be amazed because your child will just automatically say the next words for you. You will find that the books they help you read will be the ones they select more and more.

Just because children move into chapter books, please don’t stop reading picture books with them.This is extremely important because of the structure of the sentences, the vocabulary, and the descriptive words that are found in the picture books. In the chapter books you have a lower level vocabulary, and a simple sentence structure which the reader requires at that reading level.  In our research we are trying to improve the vocabulary of our students and find this very difficult. I believe that just by providing the younger students more opportunities to engage with picture books, in a manner that is fun, and take away 3 new words would make a lot of difference.

Read and enjoy a picture book with your child, grandchild, niece or nephew tonight.



Ottoline and the Yellow Cat is a top book selection

Ottoline and the Yellow Cat, by Chris Riddell is a book I gave  to a second grader that normally didn’t enjoy reading independently. She and I started reading the book together and the next day she read and read until she finished the  WHOLE book by herself. She was so proud of herself  and the next week took it to school to show her teacher . She was very excited when some of her friends also read and enjoyed this book.

is a little fantasy, a little bit of an adventure, and a big mystery story that will draw in the the  young reader moving into chapter books.  The black and white illustrations with a touch of red      are intriguing and filled with an incredible amount of details. The fantasy is wrapped around a little girl living alone is a big city with a very strange character, Mr. Munford,while her parents  are traveling, all the eccentric things that are in her apartment, the strange people that come in daily to help take care of them. Finally, there is a bear that lives in the basement.The adventure is about the a young girl exploring the big city, being with her friend the bear, or just taking time to jump into the puddles. The mystery is very cleverly written about a string of high profile crimes in the area, and if that isn’t enough dogs are missing. Ottoline and Mr. Munford set out to solve the missing dog mystery and discover these two are connected. The plan they develop to catch the thieves is both clever and complicated. One of my favorite illustrations is the map of the apartment how it shows the plan to catch the thief. Their plan draws together all the information we have learned throughout the book. This is the part that the readers like to read over and over. Each time they reread this part, I always hear them say,”Oh my look what I missed!”Mystery stories is about finding clues and gathering information. I think this is the perfect book to help the young or reluctant reader practice these skills.



Top book series for young readers that like sports

The Backyard Sports series is perfect for the young reader, in grades 1-3, that love sports. The Backyard  Sports kids love to play games after school and usually take the games very seriously. However, with each book the friends always face some type of problem. These problems and situations are ones that the reader can relate to in their life, whether it is on the soccer field, basketball court, football field, or while skate boarding. Each book follows the same pattern, and I like the way that these issues are always solved. Making friends and learning how to be a team player is a big part of what students in grades 1-3 are learning to do on a daily basis. I like the way the stories approach and solve these problems. I also think that they provide a springboard for a conversation with an adult about these issues. Backyard Sports tie together sports and how to be a team member very nicely. These are the titles that I have enjoyed.

Together We Read series a top gift selection!

“Shared Reading” is when the child and adult take turns reading the story, and then the magic happens because you are reading “with” your child.  The series, We Both Read Books, is designed

around this process.  Every book in this series is designed so that the parent is invited to read the higher level text on the left side of the book, and the child can read the text at their reading level on the right

the hand side. The series includes books at 6 different reading levels, including books appropriate for emergent and beginning readers, as well as books for more advanced readers, who may still be struggling to read fluently. With its shared reading format, the We Both Read books provide content that generates significantly higher interest for a given reading level, making .    You can’t go wrong with any of these books.

Check out these We Both Read books. They also have a Spanish series.

These Robot adventures make this a terrific selection

Wendel’s Workshop, by Chris Ridell, is perfect  for any child ages 3-8 that enjoys robots. The illustrations are wonderful and each page reminds me of an “I Spy” page.  Wendell, a mouse,  is an excellent inventor, that recycles anything he can find to create his robots, and sometimes his designs just don’t work correctly. When this happens  he  throws them down into the scrap heap outside of the workshop.  However, he still can’t keep things “tidy. Wendell decides to build a robot that can “tidy up” for him, and  the adventure begins. First, he builds Clunk, that tries very hard, but does everything wrong. The children will laugh at Clunk, but when Clunk is dropped into the scrap heap they may be a little concerned. Next, Wendell designs and builds a magnificent and huge Wendelbot that cleans and cleans and never stops.  Finally, he decides to “tidy” up Wendel and drops him down the chute and out to the scrap heap.  As Wendel sits on top of  the scrap heap, you can feel his sadness and loneliness. Clunk reappears to help Wendel regain his workshop and defeat the Wendelbot by using all the scrap pieces to make an army of robots.  The last page is another ” I spy” type page. You discover that Wendel never again drops anything out on to the scrap heap. In fact, on the last page you will discover how Wendel even reuses the Wendelbot.



Take time to do a picture walk beginning with the front and back cover. The back cover is important because it shows the chute from the workshop to the scrap heap. The scrap heap will be important in the story. Next, spent time  on the  inside cover . It is filled with blueprint designs for robots, and sets the stage for the the mouse inventor.  Finally, do a picture walk, go through each page enjoying the illustrations (no reading). Talk about what the illustrations make you wonder and then make predictions about what you think will happen.


Stop and talk about the predictions that you made and if they were correct.

Select two or three words that you can use to  expand your child’s vocabulary  You might consider these words:

scrap heap=junk pile=items not needed=left overs

tidy= clean=pick up=put your toys away

inventor=builder of things=you are an inventor when you build with blocks and legos


Go back in the story and use the illustrations to talk about how Wendel and Clunk are “feeling” during different times in the story.

Together with your child do a quick retell of the story.  Developing the ability to retell a story is a foundational piece for early literacy.

You might want to take pieces from your recycling bin and together make a robot with your child.  Your robot can be part of the “robot war” that occurred that morning. Make up another part to the story to describe how your robot helped to win back the workshop.

Bad Kitty Gets A Bath is a Top Chapter Book for ages 5-8

Bad Kitty Gets A Bath,by Nick Bruel is a high interest, how to, chapter book that will grab the interest of all the young readers. This comical story of how to give your cat a bath is filled with science facts and details that are quite impressive. I like the way the author plays with different fonts and sizes to help the reader understand the emotions of the kitty. My favorite pages are when the kitty is running up the stairs to escape her bath, and then after her bath when she is dry!!! It doesn’t matter how many times you read this book, or whether you have a cat, you will find yourself laughing out loud.

I highly recommend this book for any reader in grades 1-3. This is a book that the students will read over and over and always end up with lots of laughter. Plus you can expand this by learning about your tongue and have a tasting with sweet, sour, and salty foods. Oh what fun!

The picture book, Bad Kitty, by Nick Bruel, is a laugh out loud funny book that takes you  through the alphabet three times with Bad Kitty. In the beginning Kitty was a sweet kitty sleeping peacefully on the rug until she hears that there is no cat food, and she was going to have to eat some healthy and delicious food. Kitty’s ears immediately perk up and from that moment on the hilarious adventure begins.

DON’T do a picture walk with this book because it would spoil the last page. It is the BEST!!  . This story is one that I am asked to read over and over!! It would make a wonderful gift for any child ages 3-8.