The Very Hungry Caterpillar can eat a bag of salami. There’s a world of incredible picture books out there to discover with your tiny human. Here are three papery playlists for the Three Ages of Child that Laura and I have read through, so far. With no apologies for the antipodean bias, it’s time to dust off that library card…
Picture book playlist: Baby
Never underestimate a baby. They’re smarter than you think. Babies are learning language from the moment their inner ears develop, while they’re still doing time in utero. Once they’re out, babies learn language from their parents and carers, who naturally repeat words to them, tell them stories, sing songs, and respond to their giggles, smiles, hilarious farts and not-so-hilarious sharts.
New mums and dads – read to your baby from birth. They may not be able to follow the plot, but they are learning to connect reading with what they love most (time with you!).
Here’s my recommended reading list for babies. All gold:
01. Stick Man
Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler
03. Wolf Won’t Bite
04. All Through My Town
Jean Reidy & Leo Timmers
05. Magic Beach
06. Big Dog… Little Dog
07. Hairy Maclary
08. Rudie Nudie
09. Dear Zoo
10. The Snow Wombat
Picture book playlist: Toddler
18 months-3 years
By 18 months, your slightly larger tiny human is picking up early literacy and language skills that will help them learn to read in a couple of years time.
Give your toddler plenty of time to talk during book reading. Create opportunities, encourage them to say more, and show interest in what they say. This incidental baby banter is as valuable as the book-reading itself. Have fun, be noisy, be weird, make cinematic sound effects… go nuts! Make booktime a fun time, so that you and your child look forward to it, every day.
My pick of books to read with toddlers, the golden age for picture books:
01. I Want My Hat Back
(Probably the best picture book of all time)
02. The Very Cranky Bear
03. They All Saw a Cat
04. That Is Not a Good Idea!
05. It’s Only Stanley
06. Dave’s Cave
07. Pig the Pug
08. Little Red
09. This is My Rock
10. Shhh! We Have a Plan
Picture book playlist: Preschooler
Positive reading experiences encourage more reading. The more your not-so-tiny human reads with you, the more likely they are to read throughout their life. Keep up the dialogue during booktime. Embrace the pauses and inject ideas. Relate things in the story to their life. Ask questions, and pay attention to their answers!
At this age as much as any, when you are with your child, limit distractions – turn off the TV, hide the laptop, throw your phone in the fruitbowl. Focus. Be deliberate.
Here’s my list to read with 3-5 year olds. These are books are listed because they are incredible to read with kids – because they’re brilliant picture books – they are not recommendations for learner readers. Needless to say… all gold:
01. The Giving Tree
02. Du Iz Tak?
03. Sam & Dave Dig a Hole
Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen
04. The Incredible Book Eating Boy
By Richard Scarry
06. Please Open This Book
Adam Lehrhaupt & Matthew Forsythe
07. Mr Tiger Goes Wild
08. Grandad’s Island
09. Please Mr Panda
10. The Koala Who Could
Rachel Bright & Jim Field
There’s a rising tide of brilliant picture books out there, so head down to your nearest library or bookshop, and get amongst it!
The age brackets and a few of the developmental references in this post were borrowed from a brilliant little document from Harvard Graduate School of Education. Many thanks to Joe Blatt, Nonie Lesaux, and Catherine Snow for their work on ‘Encouraging Your Child to Read’ (2015).