(Sweet without being insipid, that is)
When we find a sweet little book, we tend to read it several times (or nightly for several months), as it doesn’t “count” in the 3 books-per-bedtime rule if it is short. These are some great books to have laying around when someone small wants a book read, and you only have a few minutes.
A few board books we’ve really liked lately, which have even amused the older children:
Your Personal Penguin, by Sandra Boynton. OK, I have to admit that we are suckers for all the Sandra Boynton books, and the part where this one comes with the URL to download a song? Who could pass it up? We have worn out copies of Barnyard Dance! and a myriad of other Sandra Boynton stories, and this book follows in their footsteps. Your Personal Penguin is a sweet book about a penguin wanting to be friends with a hippo, with adorable Boynton illustrations and sweet rhymes. It’s a simple, quick story that is completely suitable for a baby/toddler, and the Boynton rhymes seem to enthrall the older kiddos here in addition to the younger intended audience.
The sheep books by Nancy Shaw are all short, sweet, and sheepy. Our particular favorite is Sheep in a Shop. In this rhyming story, the sheep go to a shop to buy a present. Some minor chaos ensues, but they set things straight and decide what to purchase. “They dump their bank. Pennies clank. There’s not enough to buy this stuff.” Whatever will the sheep do? “What can they swap to pay the shop?” Of course, the sheep are shorn and pay the bill, then walk off in the spring sunshine to have the birthday picnic for their friend. The rhymes, cute illustrations, and gentle theme make this a book that is fun to read, and the older siblings or friends are fine listening to it as well. Sheep in a Shop can also be a great early-reader book, with the older brother/sister reading to the younger one, as the rhymes and pictures help the new reader know what happens next.
Good Night, Gorilla, by Peggy Rathmann is another sturdy, brightly colored board book. This is one of those classic toddler/preschooler books that everyone should own. It has very few words (so it is also great to hand to kids so they will have a book to “read” as they lay in bed), and follows the story of a gorilla who swipes the keys from the zookeeper’s belt and unlocks each animal from their enclosure. The animals follow the zookeeper back to his home, and (here’s the best part!) when his wife says goodnight, ALL the animals chime in with their goodnights. This is a sweet, simple book that you can add your own story to as well as see what your kids will pick up on – the colored keys? the stuffed animals? how would the animals fit in the house?
What do you do When a Monster says Boo? is slightly longer, but still much shorter than most picture books. What do you do When a Monster says Boo? is written by Hope Vestergaard, illustrated by Maggie Smith. This is a sweet book about a “monster” little sister, who pesters her older brother. Any boy or girl with a brother or sister will like this, as it acknowledges the frustrated feelings of the older sibling, while showing the perspective of the younger sibling. We loved the brightly-colored illustrations and the fun rhymes, as well as the question-answer scheme of the book. Here’s an example that resonated in our house:
What do you do when a monster pulls hair?
Show it your teeth and pretend that you’ll bite?
Forget all your manners and start a big fight?
No, no, NO!
The best thing to do when
a monster pulls hair
Is find its soft tummy
and tickle it there.
This was a fun, short book to read, and the words are set off in blocks away from the illustrations. The movement of the words on the page is another part of the book that was appealing to the reading parent, just as the ideas of the naughty things you could do to the “monster” were really appealing to the kids!