Saturday, May 05, 2007

Six favorite toddler books

(Un)relaxeddad shared his fav bedtime stories, and tagged me. Here goes:

1)The Princess in the Forest by Sibylle von Olfers. I just got this recently in an attempt to liven up the bedtime routine, but by enliven I mean "get a new book that I actually like and that is short and soothing." This beautifully illustrated story from the early 1900's is very simple and calming, and ends with a wonderfully comforting image of the princess asleep in her castle with a star child keeping watch over her.

2) Little Bear, by Else Holmelund Minarik. First, this book (and the 4 others about Little Bear by Minarik) are illustrated by Maurice Sendak, who is one of my favorite artists. Second, these are short little stories with simple words (they are sold as early readers). Third, they are sweet and funny. Little Bear has great powers of imagination, has good friends, gets into mischief, and has a very kind mother. The last story actually ends with Little Bear going to sleep!

3) Grandfather Twilight, by Barbara Helen Berger. This book is all about going to sleep! The illustrations are very soft and beautiful, and since my kids are enamored of all things grandfatherish, they really like this story. The book is actually rather hypnotic, and has a wonderful image of the moon as a pearl.

4) Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak. This one is almost too classic to mention, but we do like it. Plus it helps us feel better after a particularly fierce or mischievous day -- the dinner was still hot after all.

5) Frog and Toad stories, by Arnold Lobel. Many of these stories are a bit too silly for bedtime, but a few of them work well for us. Frog is a loyal friend, and Toad is a melancholic grump who nevertheless tries to be a good friend to Frog. My kids seem to relate to these characters, who get into trouble, get frustrated, do silly things, cannot control their cookie-eating habit, etc.

6) In the Land of Fairies and In the Land of Elves, by Daniela Drescher. OK, two for one. These books are really lovely and imaginative. The translations are nice, though Elves is the better for reading out loud. My kids have these memorized and love the illustrations.

After writing this list, I see several common threads: short, soothing, and hopefully directly involving characters sleeping. Methinks the idea is to get the kids halfway to dreamland even before the light goes out! Also I seem to stick with two camps: classics (Sendak and Lobel) and Waldorfy (von Olfers and Drescher).

Now, if I were to give a list of favorite books in general, not bedtime, then maybe we'd see some variety. Maybe.

4 comments:

Greg said...

I used to love Where the Wild Things Are. (Not at bedtime though -- the monsters were a little scary and I already thought the toys and chairs in the room, coupled with creaks from my parents walking upstairs, were a little scarier with the lights out.)
I also loved Jack and the Beanstalk. The idea of climbing vines up to the sky (and of proving the adults wrong, of course) was exciting.
Oh, and anything by Dr. Seuss. One of my faves was the one where an entire little world is on a speck of dust (I forgot the name).

(un)relaxeddad said...

Do you know, we don't actually have "Where the wild things are". OK, that's gone straight on my shopping list. The little bear books sound like a good bet for dudelet as well.

Jennifer said...

Interesting - my common thread involved (well done) rhyming books (which I was surprised by), but I think it's because that's what I enjoy reading aloud.

I've never read any of your (except Where the Wild Things Are, which neither of my boys enjoyed much, to my surprise) but I'll have to look out for them.

Henitsirk said...

Greg: I just read Jack and the Beanstalk to my son the other day, but I think he didn't get it! (He's only 4 1/2.) But they do like fairy tales.

URD: I love Wild Things because it's such a child fantasy -- your mom gets mad at you for your bad attitude, and yet you get to party with a bunch of monsters who elect you king, and when you return you still get a hot dinner.

Jennifer: We like rhyming books too (A.A. Milne's poems are great for that) but I feel that at bedtime strong rhyming isn't soothing for my kids. They're so verbal (and seem to memorize things at the drop of a hat) that they would probably get too excited by the language!