Friday, July 1, 2022

Top Books to Read (AGAIN) to Your Toddler this Summer


(aka a tribute to the genius of Sandra Boynton)

Compiled by Kristin, as rated by Wendy

Summer reading is in full swing, and we have some excellent recommendations for the toddler in your life. My two-year-old granddaughter Wendy is at the stage where if she likes a book, she will allow you to finish the last page and immediately flip it over, saying, “AGAIN.” With this in mind, I would like to share some of our favorites, rated by how many repetitions Wendy usually requests. Really, anything over 2 AGAINs is worth mentioning.

 How big is Zagnodd?

How Big is Zagnodd? by Sandra Boynton is a dramatic masterpiece. How big is Zagnodd? SO big. Baby Zagnodd is also SO big. If you have ever wondered about Zagnodd’s size, or how fuzzy Fleeb, Fleeeb, and Fleeeeb are, this is definitely the book for you. Boynton is well known for her silliness in books she has been writing for decades. This is a bedtime favorite, and Wendy usually gives it at least 5 AGAINs.

 But not the hippopotamus

While we’re on Boynton, we’ve been reading But Not the Hippopotamus (1982) to various kids since the mid-1990s. All of the animals are having so much fun, but not the hippopotamus. She just doesn’t seem to get invited to all the cool kid parties, or to go jogging, or to have juice. Spoiler alert, once the hippopotamus is included, then the armadillo is not. Sigh. Boynton does remedy this decades later in But Not the Armadillo (2018) when we learn that the armadillo is perfectly happy on his own. Rating? It depends on the day, but 3 or 4 AGAINs.

Ten little ladybugs

Ten Little Ladybugs by Melanie Gerth has also been a favorite since my youngest daughter’s preschool teacher gave it to her about twenty years ago. Wendy is a huge fan of the multi-colored and multi-dotted ladybugs which diminish in number page by page as they each wander off with an animal friend. Never fear, the ending is happy, and you have a chance to count all the ladybugs once again. If you are reading it with a toddler, possibly AGAIN times 10.

 Red truck, yellow truck

Wendy loves any big trucks, so Red Truck Yellow Truck by Michelle Robinson is a huge hit. Jez Tuya’s illustrations are simple and colorful, as the drivers travel through the city, forest, and farmland. So many trucks! Definitely worth 7 AGAINs.



Jamberry by Bruce Degen – “One berry, two berry, pick me a blueberry. Hatberry shoeberry, in my canoeberry. Under the bridge and over the dam, looking for berries, berries for JAAAAAAAMMMMM.” Okay, I might know this entire book by heart. Sometimes we just recite it at bedtime, repeating the last page quietly until her eyes close and she is asleep. (“Mountains and fountains rain down on me, buried in berries, what a Jam Jamboree”) Jamberry rates at least 10 AGAINs.

Snuggle Puppy : a little love song

Snuggle Puppy by….want to guess who? Sandra Boynton. Really, she’s the genius of toddler books. She should have a crown with a big heart on it just for Snuggle Puppy. This one is a little love song from parent to child. It’s wonderful to read, and wonderful to settle down for a cuddle or a nap. Rating? 5 AGAINs.

 Pajama time!

Oh, and speaking of Boynton, Pajama Time is another favorite. The hippo, pig, chicken, cat, bear, and more all have to get ready for bed. Chaos ensues. Our favorite type of getting ready for bed book. Wendy rates this 7 AGAINs.

Wendy also brought me a chapter book from our bookshelves, the first in the Trixie Belden series, The Secret of the Mansion. This series started in 1948 and I loved them all during the 1980s. In 2003, Random House began republishing the series with updated artwork and covers, and in some cases updated the language too. I read about two paragraphs to Wendy, as Trixie moaned to her Moms that she would just die if she didn’t have a horse this summer….Wendy slammed the book shut. This was not an AGAIN. We’ll wait until she’s a little older for the Trixies.