12 TODDLER BOOKS WE CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT

One of my first loves was for children’s books. As a kid, I vividly remember looking forward to bedtime every night because I’d get to listen to my parents narrate my favorite stories (in all the voices!). In doing so, they helped to instill in me a lifelong love for reading, writing and learning. Naturally, I’ve been trying to inspire Naiya and Sadie in a similar way.  Every night, Phil and I read the girls bedtime stories.  Since our collection has grown immensely over the past couple of years, I’m narrowing down some of our favorite books today that Naiya and Sadie can’t get enough of. If you’re building up you child’s library with books that will never get old, hopefully this list will help you.

Our Favorite Children’s Books

1) Coco Chanel by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara: Loving this book from the Little People, Big Dreams series. The illustrations are so beautiful and the stories are so empowering. They tell the stories of young women who defied the odds to make it in an easy-to-digest manner for little kids.

2) The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister: This has been one of Naiya’s favorite books since she was about a year old. She loves the colorful, sparkly illustrations and I love the message this book shares with kids. It’s all about sharing and embracing your differences.

3) Love You Forever by Robert Munsch: This book made me cry as a kid because of its sweet message and it makes me cry even more now–but in a beautiful way. It’s all about the love a mother has for her baby throughout his life. In the end, it showcases that our lives come full circle: we start of being cared for by our mothers and then we have to care for our mothers, I’m convinced it’s one of the most beautiful children’s books ever and I hope my girls read it to their babies someday too.

4) Goodnight, Moon by Margaret Wise Brown: Another classic my parents read to me as a kid that I absolutely love reading to my babies now. Naiya finds it so relaxing and she loves the simple pictures.  It oftentimes makes her sleepy and ready for bed which is always a plus.

5) Llama Llama series by Anna Dewdney: Naiya and Sadie love this series! The illustrations are so cute and they love that baby Llama does all the things they do. “Llama Llama Wakey Wakey” and “Llama Llama Red Pajamas” are their absolute faves. Naiya has a Llama Llama stuffed animal she holds while we read these books.

6) Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin: My parents used to read me this book and somewhere along the way, I memorized the whole thing. Naiya is almost there too! I love that it rhymes and it’s so fun to read out loud. It’s the story of the alphabet so Naiya has learned a lot about letters from this book too.

7) Time For Bed, Elmo by Sarah Albee: Naiya’s all-time favorite book right now. She has completely memorized this one and it’s always the last book in our bedtime routine. Elmo teaches kids how he gets ready for bed and it’s been a bit help to Naiya. Elmo helped her fall in love with brushing her teeth by herself and he helped her learn how to wind down after a long day.

8) Night In The Country by Cynthia Rylant: This book is just like its namesake–it’s about night in the country. It’s such a simple, relaxing book to read to your kids at the end of a long night. Since we live in a big city, I love that this book gives Naiya a slice of a different life to get her imagination going.

9) Little Rabbit Foo Foo by Michael Rosen: Naiya has memorized this book and loves singing along with me as I read it. It’s basically a longer version of the “Little Rabbit Foo Foo” song we all sang as kids. Naiya thinks the book is absolutely hilarious and it always makes her laugh.

10) Little Feminist series by Mudpuppy: Loving all of these books that come in a little travel set. I’m all for teaching my girls that they can do anything from a young age and each of these books help me to do so.

11) I Am A Big Sister by Caroline Jayne Church: My sister bought this book for Adena right before she became a big sister and it changed everything! It truly prepared Naiya for what was to come because it opened up a dialogue at bedtime. She memorized the book from start to finish and by the time Sadie came into the picture, she seemed to have some sort of understanding about what a sister was.

12) Hello In There by Joe Witek: We read this book throughout my pregnancy with Sadie and Naiya absolutely loved it. The book is all about how special it is to be a big sister-to-be–when your mom is pregnant and your sibling is growing. Every page represents a different month of pregnancy and you can watch the baby grow throughout. Each page contains a little paper “door” that you can open to see the baby growing. Naiya loves this part of the book especially because she is able to participate while we read. Photography: Forrest Leo