Russell's Book Basket

Great baby-tested (and tasted!) recommendations for ages birth through three years old!

Print up this list and bring it to the bookstore to find great baby shower gifts, or take it to the library to locate read-alouds for your own babies or toddlers! Russell has been read aloud to since he was two weeks old, and looks forward to being a "puppet story man" when he grows up. These are some of his favorites.

No, David! by David Shannon
Inspired by a book he wrote when the only words he could write were "no" and "David," Shannon celebrates breathtaking naughtiness and subsequent unconditional love in its finest rendering since Sendak'sWhere the Wild Things Are (another great book).

Goodnight, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
Gorilla releases all the animals from the zoo to join Papa Zookeeper for an unexpected slumber party. Notice how Gorilla matches the color key to the lock. Look at the "Ernie" doll in Armadillo's pen! Can you find the balloon in almost every picture? This is a book that can be looked at again and again; new delights await every visit to the night-time zoo.

Come Along, Daisy by Jane Simmons
Daisy is a formidable explorer, but when adventures get out of hand, Mama duck is closer than Daisy thinks.

Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle
When Monica wants the moon to play with her, Papa gets right on scheduling a playdate. Creative paper engineering makes this book extra exciting. Of course, check out the classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar by this same author.

Feely Bugs by David Carter
Russell loves all of David Carter's books, but this trip into the world of texture was Russell's original favorite.

Curious George's Are You Curious? illustrated by H.A. Rey
Do you ever feel happy? Are you sometimes silly? Have you ever been naughty, so you need a time out? Don't worry, George has, too, in this comforting book about moods.

Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang
A little girl counts backwards to sleep taking cues from the cozy things in her room. This was one of Russell's earliest favorites. I still remember when his toes were the same size as the toes on the illustration!

Sam's Cookie by Barbro Lindgren
Havoc ensues as a hungry dog confiscates Sam's beloved bakery treat! Mommy comes to the rescue. Eva Eriksson's illustrations really capture the emotions of a small child. Check out all the books in Lindgren's Sam series, they are all wonderful.

Hush! A Thai Lullaby by Minfong Ho
In this repetitious bedtime rhyme, a mother implores the neighborhood animals, from mosquito to elephant, to quiet down so her baby can sleep. Russell loves to join in the telling, and your child will, too!

Other Favorites from Russell's Book Basket

Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs! by Sandra Boynton (Check out all her board books!)
Noah's Ark by Lucy Cousins (Also check out her nursery rhyme board books!)
A, You're Adorable by Buddy Kaye, Fred Wyse and Sidney Lippman
Peek-A-Who by Nina Laden
Here's A Little Poem by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters, illustrated by Polly Dunbar
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
Stella and Roy by Ashley Wolff
Whistle for Willie and The Snowy Day, both by Ezra Jack Keats
Owl Babies and We're Going On a Bear Hunt by Martin Waddell
Max's Dragon Shirt and the whole Max series by Rosemary Wells
I Love You, Sun, I Love You, Moon by Karen Pandell, illustrated by Tomie DePaola
Is That Josie? by Keiko Narahashi
Elmer by David McKee
Here Comes Mother Goose and My Very First Mother Gooseby Iona Opie, illustrated by Rosemary Wells
A Lot of Otters by Barbara Helen Berger
The Nutshell Library by Maurice Sendak
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See, both by Bill Martin Jr.
The Mr. Men and Little Miss series by Roger Hargreaves (extremely imaginative and economically priced books! They are fun to read and fun to collect. Mommy is not partial to the "Little Miss" series, but Russell likes them.)
The Wee Little Woman by Byron Barton (Check out all his books! Bold illustrations.)
Changes, Changes by Pat Hutchins
Benny's Had Enough! by Barbro Lindgren
Don't Make Me Laugh! by James Stevenson
If You Give A Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
The Spot series by Eric Hill
Freight Train by Donald Crews (Check out all his books!)
Take Me For a Ride by Michel Gay (A hard-to-find author, but worth the hunt. His book Night Ride is also wonderful.)
Brown Cow, Green Grass ,Yellow, Mellow Sun by Ellen Jackson
Good Dog, Carl by Alexandra Day (All the Carl books are delightful!)
Richard Scarry's Pig Will and Pig Won't: A Book of Manners by Richard Scarry (Russell is a big Richard Scarry fan!)
Also, try baby board books by Neil Ricklen (such as Baby's Big and Little)and Tom Arma (Animal Time! and Tykeosaurs)! Babies looove pictures of other babies!

What Next? The first read-aloud chapter books Russell ever enjoyed were the "Russell" series by Joanna Hurwitz, such as Russell Sprouts , Rip-Roaring Russell and Russell Rides Again (can you guess why?). Both of us enjoyed the funny, realistic stories of children living in an apartment building, written in the Beverly Cleary tradition of heart and humor, but aimed at younger listeners. He then moved on to the "Elisa" series and the "Nora" series by the same author. Russell gives Johanna Hurwitz his full endorsement for first fiction, and I do, too!

WHERE IS GOODNIGHT MOON? Russell doesn't like it! He never did! He prefers Sun Is Falling, Night Is Calling by Laura Leuck.

Share "Baby Books" in Your Community!

A teacher told me about a program she initiated at her school. Using grant money, she bought multiple copies of "baby books." She called a monthly meeting for parents and provided child care in the next room. Then she demonstrated to parents how to read aloud to their little ones: putting a child on a lap or right beside, showing pictures as the story is read, discussing details on each page. Afterward, all the children were brought in and parents practiced reading the book to them. Each family took home a copy of the book to keep at the end of the meeting! This teacher said she bought some copies of the book in Spanish for Spanish-speaking parents, and had a translator there to help communicate her read-aloud hints. I think this is a great idea, and it can be adapted to be run by play groups.

Another great way to share "baby books" is to "adopt" a teenage mother and treat her to a basket of books that will encourage a love of reading for her and her baby. How about throwing in a lullaby cassette and an application for a public library card? You can get the name of a deserving teenage mommy by calling your local high school counseling department, public aid, the Department of Children and Family Services or your pediatrician or clinic.

Beyond Baby...
Series Books for Emergent Literacy!

For all of you parents out there who have been asking for recommendations for young children in the midst of "emergent literacy," these ones are for you! The Brand New Readers series was designed especially as books for children who are exactly that: learning to read for the very first time, usually some time between preschool and the end of first grade. Each inexpensive pack contains four paperback books that are actual pre-school page turners! The brevity of the eight-page books offer new readers a sense of accomplishment and success, plus the back page of each book offers helpful hints to parents helping their children along. I find this series consistently cheerful and frankly funny. "Monkey Trouble" is a favorite. Another outstanding series for emergent readers is the All Aboard Reading: Picture Readers, published by Grosset & Dunlap, which Russell really enjoyed as an emergent reader, and he continues to enjoy! "Picture Readers" are the easiest level of the All Aboard Reading series, and combine picture cues throughout the text, helping children to develop a sight vocabulary. Plus, there are fun flash-cards of the pictures in the book that can be used for reading games. In this series, Russell especially enjoyed Space Kid, Benny's Big Bubble, Pig Out!, Silly Willy and Don't Wake the Baby. Use either series to give your newest reader a leg up on reading skills. Of course, I grew up on the I Can Read series, published by Harper & Row, where I met Little Bear (Else Holmelund Minarik), Frog and Toad ( Arnold Lobel) and my favorite, Frances from A Bargain for Frances (Russell Hoban), and the Beginner Books published by Random House, such as Go, Dog, Go! (P.D. Eastman), The Big Honey Hunt (Stan and Jan Berenstain), Bennet Cerf's Book of Riddles, and, of course, Dr. Seuss' Cat in the Hat. Now these are considered "classics." (Hmmm, how'd I get so old?) While these books still have the limited vocabulary with repetitions that characterize books for new readers, the more contemporary series offer shorter stories that seem geared toward a slightly younger audience.

Read fast...they grow up quickly!

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