Toddler Reads: Ready for School

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With the start of preschool just a few months away, books about school are a real hit in our house these days. Here are a few of our favorites.

B. Bear and Lolly Off to School. Written by A.A. Livingston, illustrated by Joey Chou (2014).

B. Bear and Lolly are best friends. They like the same porridge, the same bed, and the same comfy bed. They are also starting school at the same time. B. Bear is nervous, but Lolly is there is offer her friendly support. A fun reimagining of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

It’s Time for Preschool! Written by Esme Raji Codell, illustrated by Sue Rama (2012).

A great introduction to a preschool day – playtime, circle time, snack time, nap time, and ALWAYS, sharing time. Codell is an educator, and based on my tours of schools this year, she definitely got the preschool day down!

Keisha Ann Can! Written and illustrated by Daniel Kirk (2008).

Keisha Ann goes to kindergarten and can do SO much cool stuff (including making her own lunch. Can’t wait for that day!) An enjoyable rhyming tale.

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Little Lola. Written by Julie Saab, illustrated by David Gothard (2014).

Little Lola is a curious cat is search of a big adventure. What could be a bigger adventure than school?

Llama Llama Misses Mama. Written and illustrated by Anna Dewdney (2009).

Llama Llama has started preschool and he is missing Mama something awful. Luckily the other kids at preschool are happy to reach out and show him how much fun preschool can be.

Monsters Love School. Written and illustrated by Mike Austin (2014).

Monsters love big adventures – and what could be a better adventure than starting school? Blue is a little nervous but he soon learns the fun of art class, monster history, library book club, and recess!

Toddler Reads: Ready for School

Toddler Reads: Halloween

Halloween is sneaking up on us! Here are few suggestions of seasonally appropriate, non-scary reads for toddlers.

My First Halloween written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola (1992).
This was in heavy rotation last year, when I secretly thought of it as “My Second Halloween”. That’s because it does a great job of introducing the basic concepts of Halloween to a kid who is old enough to notice that something different is going on. Costumes, pumpkins, trick-or-treating, Tomie dePaola has got you covered.

A Very Brave Witch written by Alison McGhee and illustrated by Harry Bliss (2006).
Did you know that witches are scared of people? This is the tale of one very brave little witch who befriends a witch-costumed human girl on Halloween. Halloween fun and a lesson in not being scared of those who are different than you in one.

Bats at the Library written and illustrated by Brian Lies (2008).
Only Halloween themed, in the sense that bats are associated with Halloween, but still great fun. When a window at the library is left open one night, the bats enjoy a Night at the Library, complete with book chat, story times, photocopier shenanigans and all the fun that the library has to offer.

Room on the Broom written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler (2001).
A fun rhyming tale about a witch’s flight. She loses her hat, then her bow, then her wand, each found by a helpful animal who asks if there is room on her broom for them. When the overloaded broom breaks, with a dragon on the hunt, it looks like all hope is lost, but luckily her new animal friends come to the rescue.

One Halloween Night written and illustrated by Mark Teague (1999).
Three friends set off trick-or-treating, but everything goes wrong. Wendell’s scientist costume has been died pink, Mona has to dress up as a fairy princess, Floyd has to bring his little sister along. When a gaggle of witches start to tease the four trick-or-treaters, they find that they have special powers on this special night. Mark Teague’s great illustrations have made this a hit in our house since Frances’ first Halloween!

Toddler Reads are aimed at children 0-3. All of these books have been Frances-approved.

Toddler Reads: Halloween

Toddler Reads: Potty Training

Let me tell you: there are A LOT of really mediocre books about using the potty out there in the world. Here are a few that I didn’t HATE.


Diapers are Not Forever. Written by Elizabeth Verdick. Illustrated by Marieka Heinlen. (2008).
PREACH, Ms Verdick. Diapers ARE NOT forever. Cute and simple board book about growing up and learning to use the potty.

Everyone Poops. Written and Illustrated by Taro Gomi. (1977).
The classic, and rightfully so to my mind. Takes poop from the realm of YUCK to totally normal. Plus you get to say poop a lot, which always amusing to toddlers.

Go Girl, Go Potty! Written and Illustrated by Emily Bolam. (2006).
Potty training with flaps. (Flap books make everything more amusing!) A silly look at who uses the potty (Spoiler alert: giraffes do not, little girls do). There is also a boy version, if that is more appropriate in your house.


Oh no! Gotta go, Number 2! Written by Susan Middleton Elya. Illustrated by Lynne Avril. (2007).
This probably has the most “plot” of any of the potty training books. A little girl goes on a picnic with her parents. She pees before she leaves home and doesn’t drink anything while out, but soon remembers that “there’s more than one reason to sit on the pot.” Emergencia! Written in English, with scattered Spanish vocabulary. There is also an earlier book with the same girl about needing to pee, but I think this is the stronger of the two.

Potty. Written and illustrated by Leslie Patricelli. (2010).
Patricelli has written dozen of board books about popular toddler topics. Yummy Yucky is a favorite of ours, and Potty features the same mostly bald, gender ambiguous baby. Let’s call the kid Pat. Baby contemplates peeing in the diaper, but choose to go on the potty instead. GOOD CHOICE, baby!

Time to Pee! Written and illustrated by Mo Willems.
Willems, author of Knuffle Bunny and the popular Elephant and Piggie books puts his great talents toward the topic of potty time. Specifically what to do when you get that “funny feeling” that lets you know you need to pee. If you buy the book, you get a potty chart and stickers, but we just got it out of the library, and that suited us fine.

Toddler Reads: Potty Training

Frances’ Favorite Books: 21 Months

These are some of the books that have been big hits in our house in the past 3 months.

Ah Ha! by Jeff Mack. A mostly wordless books about a frog, who escapes capture by a kid, only to successively end up near a turtle, alligator, and flamingo, all who would like to eat him. Lots of action, bright fun illustrations, plenty of chances for a toddler to shout AH HA!

Bruno Munari’s Zoo. Really lovely, colorful illustrations and not too much text (a winning combo in our house) about the animals at the zoo.

Grumpy Goat by Brett Helquist. Helquist has written (and illustrated) a charming book about a disgruntled goat, transformed into friendly guy by his love of a beautiful dandelion. Really great illustrations (and any book where Frances can identify all the animals and the sounds they make is a hit these days!)

Jamberry by Bruce Degen. I’ve written about Jamberry before, but we just got it out of the library again, and it’s as big a hit as ever. Last night Frances wouldn’t let me read any other books before I read Jamberry. (Still a cute, rhyming book about a boy, a bear, berries and jam, of all things.)

Madlenka’s Dog by Peter Sis. This is a really beautifully illustrated book about a little girl who wants a dog – and the power of imagination. When Madlenka walks her imaginary dog around her city block the neighbors that she meets all imagine a different dog (shown under flaps) – one has spots, one is small and fluffy, one is big and woolly, and so on.

Pigsty by Mark Teague. The Mark Teague love remains strong. This is an older book by him about a boy who doesn’t want to clean him room (so the pigs move in).
Really cute.

Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang. This is a sweet and simple book that counts down to a little girls bedtime – from 10 toes “washed and warm” to “one big girl all ready for bed”.

This Little Piggy by Tim Harrington. You know all about the roast-beef-eating, wee-weeing piggies – but what about the toes on the other foot? Harrington comes up with some pretty fun activities that they do, which wear all the piggies out and make them ready for sleep. Another good bedtime story.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. This is a total classic, which probably doesn’t need any description, but it definitely holds up. Good for all Wild Thing kids!

Yummy Yucky by Leslie Patricelli. I feel like we are late to the party on this book, but it’s a charming, funny book about foods that are good to eat and… things that are not so good to eat (Example: “Sandwiches are yummy. Sand is yucky.”). A quick, fun read. Frances loves to say YUCK at the end.

Frances’ Favorite Books: 21 Months